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  • Writer's pictureArcht. Ilmi Dissanayake

How Architecture Can Heal You with Helping to Maintain a Healthy Circadian Cycle

Did you know that just the sight of sunlight helps regulate your circadian cycle?

Connection with the natural environment is often far more important than you may have known.

This is why it is so important that you don't get stuck in a building that cuts you off completely, from the natural environment.

While we put a lot of emphasis on things like food, exercise, and mental health, one vital component that is frequently neglected is our circadian cycle. Because of the deep connection that exists between our bodies and the natural environment, even the slightest interruption to the internal clock of our bodies can have a significant impact on the state of our health and fitness.

What is Circadian Cycle?

The name "circadian" comes from the Latin words "circa" (around) and "diem" (day), which refers to the roughly 24-hour cycle that controls our physiological functions. Our circadian cycle regulates our sleep-wake cycle, hormone synthesis, and core body temperature, among other physiological processes.

Daily and seasonal variation of light plays a crucial role in caring for our circadian cycle.

Why is it important?

Circadian cycle’s proper function is critical to our health and well-being.

The maintenance of a circadian cycle that is in good working order is essential to ensuring that our bodies remain in a state of optimal health and wellness generally. Research shows that a disruption in the circadian cycle can lead to bad health conditions such as:

· Extreme daytime sleepiness

· Decreased alertness

· Problems with memory and decision-making

· Major depressive disorder

· Anxiety

· Bipolar disorder

· Schizophrenia

It is imperative that we look for strategies to synchronise our internal body clocks with the natural environment as a result of the fact that our contemporary lifestyles frequently subject us to artificial lights and unpredictable timetables.

How Can Architecture Help?

The significance of architecture lies in the fact that it moulds the environments that people live in, which has a direct bearing on the quality of their lives. The creation of environments that are beneficial to our circadian cycle and that support and improve it can have a transforming effect on our health. A few of the following are examples of how our internal body clocks might be positively influenced by architectural design.

Following are a few of the ways in which our built environments might help regulate our circadian cycles:

1. Daylight Optimization

Integrating plenty of natural light, particularly daylight, into our constructed habitats is essential. Direct exposure to sunlight has been shown to aid circadian cycle regulation by cueing alertness during the day and encouraging sleep at night. Architects may reduce the need for artificial lighting by strategically placing windows, skylights, light wells and using translucent materials such as glass blocks to fill interior rooms with natural light.

2. Human-centric lighting

Although exposure to natural light is preferable, exposure to artificial lighting may be regulated to support our circadian cycle. It is possible to assist in the regulation of our internal body clocks by utilising dynamic lighting systems that imitate the colour temperature and intensity of natural light during the course of the day. This can be especially advantageous in locations where there is limited access to natural light, such as office buildings or healthcare institutions.

3. Biophilic Design

The incorporation of natural features into the design of man-made structures is what's known as "biophilic design," and it's becoming an increasingly popular with it's benefits to health and wellness. The incorporation of natural elements, such as greenery, natural materials, and views of the outdoors, can have a relaxing effect, which can reduce stress and favourably improve circadian cycle. Access to outdoor areas, such as gardens or courtyards, enables a closer connection with the natural world and helps to strengthen our body's internal clock. These benefits come as a result of having access to outdoor spaces.

4. Careful Spatial Planning

Architects' work may promote healthful habits and practises. Room layouts should be planned with the natural day-night cycle in mind, with bedrooms placed on the east side to get morning light and common spaces arranged to receive as much natural light as possible. Orientation of a building can optimize the sunlight according to the local climate of its site location. This alone is another broad topic on its own.

5. Contrasts of Light and Darkness

Architecture has the ability to create areas with unique light and dark contrasts, which can imitate the natural day and night circumstances of a given location. This can be accomplished by installing light-blocking drapes, blinds, or other shading devices that provide residents with the ability to regulate the amount of light that enters their area. During the night, it is beneficial to have a location that is dark and quiet in order to encourage peaceful sleep, but during the day, it is beneficial to have areas that are well-lit in order to promote wakefulness and alertness.

6. The Choice of Colours and Materials

The choice of colours and materials used in the design of architectural spaces can have an effect on the circadian cycle of humans. It is well recognised that colours with a cooler temperature range, such as blues and greens, have a relaxing impact and can help generate a relaxed state that is favourable to sleep. On the other side, warm colours such as yellows and oranges can help to create an environment that is more energising and vibrant, making it more appropriate for daytime activities. Choosing materials that are natural and calming may add to a feeling of well-being and help in the process of creating places that are in harmony with our natural circadian cycle.

7. Acoustical Considerations

Another factor, sound, can also have an impact on how we sleep and wake up. The inability to sleep undisturbed due to poor acoustic circumstances might result in broken sleep. Using soundproofing, windows with multiple panes of glass, and the positioning of beds away from high-noise areas may all be incorporated into the design of buildings in order to reduce the amount of noise that is brought in from the outside. Architecture has the ability to assist in uninterrupted sleep as well as general circadian health by providing spaces that are calm and serene.

8. Temperature and Ventilation

The temperature and airflow within may be more easily controlled by designing spaces with the proper amount of insulation, energy-efficient HVAC systems, and natural ventilation solutions. This can help create more pleasant sleeping surroundings and encourage healthy sleeping and waking routines.

The 24-hour cycle that governs our circadian cycle is an intricate and significant component of our overall physical and mental health. Architecture plays an essential role in reestablishing and preserving this sense of equilibrium in our lives, which are becoming increasingly urbanised and propelled by technological advancement. Architects are able to design places that support our circadian cycle and encourage healing by including factors such as enough natural light, regulated artificial lighting, biophilic design, and smart space layout.


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