Boston condo owners or apartment renters can reduce anxiety and stress and even improve their sleep by letting more natural light into their homes, a study has found.
A peer-reviewed paper published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health explains that increasing the amount of daylight into a home can have positive impacts on the occupant’s circadian rhythm, and help improve their vitality and mental health, and allow them to sleep better at night.
“The study demonstrates the impact of daylight on the physiological, behavioral, and subjective measures of circadian health in a real-world environment,” said the paper’s senior author Mariana G. Figueiro. “The findings highlight the importance of ensuring people are exposed to circadian-effective electric light or daylight indoors as well as outside for human health and well-being.”
The paper explains that light-to-dark cycles are necessary for a healthy circadian rhythm, which is the internal process that controls sleep. Now, as people spend more time cooped up inside due to the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of a balanced circadian rhythm has increased, the researchers say.
Researchers at the Light and Health Research Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York say homeowners can increase the amount of daylight that comes into their homes through so-called “smart windows”. These are made of electrochromic glass that tiny dynamically based on the location of the sun, helping to filter light more efficiently than blinds and window shades can do.
During the study, the researchers tracked a pool of participants in homes with smart windows, and compared the results against a second group of subjects whose homes have standard windows and blinds. The participants all wore sleep-tracking devices and completed surveys on their health and well-being.
The researchers found that after one week, the production of melatonin was delayed by around 15 minutes among participants that used traditional blinds. Hence, they fell asleep by an average of 22 minutes later, and slept for16 minutes less per night than the participants whose homes were fitted with smart windows. Moreover, those whose homes have smart windows showed a 11% reduction in anxiety levels and a 9% decrease in stress levels.
There is of course one caveat – the study was sponsored by a company called View Inc., which is a manufacturer of smart windows. Nevertheless, View’s vice president of health strategy Piers MacNaughton said the results of the study speak for themselves.
“When it comes to choosing a place to live, access to daylight and quality views are key features for prospective tenants,” he said. “This study shows that daylight and views are not just desirable amenities but also have fundamental impact on our health and even our hormones.”