The circadian rhythm has a massive impact on human health. With the advent of wellness-influenced buildings, contributing to the health of the circadian rhythm may soon be shaping architecture as well.
There are many ways for modern people to stay healthy. We are encouraged to eat healthy diets, get plenty of exercise and sleep a full seven to eight hours. However, there are also ways that we can change our environments to allow better health. Science and medicine are shaping architecture to produce home and work environments that are good for the body and the mind.
Work Spaces That Create Good Health
Many people do not realize the effect that their surroundings have on their health. Many businesses are adding outdoor spaces and other ways of encouraging physical activity to their buildings. These changes can create a healthy employee base with less absenteeism. Lighting can also affect employee health in a variety of ways. Well-designed lighting can help employees feel more awake and alert while the wrong lighting can disrupt the circadian rhythms of employees, leading to poor health and more sick days. There is a strong link between good health and the spaces in which you spend much of your days.
How Getting Well Is Shaping Architecture
From homes to offices, designing buildings for optimal health is becoming more than just a trend. Interior designers and architects are encouraged to follow the WELL building standard, which focuses on environmental sustainability and positive impact on human health. Buildings that meet the criteria for certification from the WELL building standard use water and electricity efficiently and encourage good health of occupants by providing natural light, space to exercise, encouragement to eat healthy and design that otherwise enhances physical and psychological health.
Chronobiology and Architecture
While maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm is not the only goal of healthy architectural design, it is certainly an important component. Good lighting, especially natural light, allows your body to perceive that it is day and respond by releasing chemicals that keep your alert and functioning at a high level. Using natural materials makes most people feel more comfortable and thus more productive. Even having access to exercise and healthy food throughout the day allows people to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm because exercise and eating habits have been found to affect your internal clock.
While architecture focusing on human health is mostly aimed at workplaces, there is no reason that we should not also seek to make our homes as conducive to health and a regulated internal clock as possible. Many of the principles of WELL architecture can also be used in residential buildings.
Circadian Rhythm and Health
Employers are not designing WELL work facilities merely out of love for their employees, but also out of concern for their bottom line. Wellness programs have been found to contribute to a company’s success in valuable ways. Employees who are healthy cost employers less in health insurance costs and absenteeism. They also are more productive and creative, which ultimately leads to more profit. This is especially true in shaping architecture to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. Your innate biological clock affects your memory and cognitive function, but also your risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome and other serious illnesses. You simply cannot work as well when your internal clocks are out of sync.
Could you work better in a building designed to support your health? According to numerous studies, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Healthy people function better not just at work, but also in every domain of their lives.