New apartment projects and master-planned communities are being designed with residents’ health and well-being in mind. This new focus is revealing a new design science that ultimately facilitates comfort and an appropriate environment for better sleeping habits.

Science points to many reasons on how sleep not only benefits one physically, mentally and emotionally, but it also has a very strong correlation to economic health. Despite the benefits, many Americans still don’t get enough sleep.

A recent Fast Company article points to the fact that more than a third of adults in the U.S. do not meet the recommended amount of sleep on a daily basis, which has been the catalyst for a huge influx of capital to support new technology and innovation in sleep aids, an industry predicted to grow to more than $100 billion by 2023.

Whitney Austin Gray leads the Delos Insights team.
Whitney Austin Gray leads the Delos Insights team.

Not only are startups trying to capitalize on this new market, so are housing designers and developers, which makes sense to Dr. Whitney Austin Gray, lead of the Delos Insights team focused on conducting industry research and supporting adoption of healthy building practices. Gray led the development of the first case studies focused on the WELL Building Standard, and helped launch more than 100 educational and training sessions related to WELL in more than 25 countries.

In an interview with HIVE RE:think podcast host Philip Beere, Gray aligns her expertise with how the built environment can influence human health and discusses the exploding opportunity for better design that can result in more rewarding sleep.

Some housing projects are already responding to this trend by incorporating smart-home products that adjust to the perfect sleep temperature, that shut out ambient light and provide the other cues your body needs for a peaceful, healing night of sleep. For instance, Troon Pacific, a San Francisco-based development and investment management company, now offers luxury, sleep-enhanced homes. The company thinks about the residents quality sleep from all aspects of construction, design, and materials, from wall insulation to reduce noise, air filtration and temperature control.

Other production builders also are rethinking design for new health and well-being features. In a recent concept project, KB Home installed the DARWIN system by Delos, a technology platform concentrated on health and well-being in the home. The DARWIN product focuses on six pillars of human health: sleep, stress, cognition, energy, performance, and lifestyle.

This new system operates lighting based on the resident’s circadian rhythms based on medical research that bright light that mimics the sun helping the resident feel more alert and awake during the day and that the process of dimming the lights at night also helps shut down in a natural, healthy way. So, in the master suite of KB Home’s concept, the DARWIN system applies an algorithm that relies on the sun’s patterns to provide or imitate daylight. It also gradually increases the bedroom temperature in the morning, drops it at night, and automatically lowers the window shades to filter out exterior light sources, all for a good slumber.

The opportunities for health and well-being at home are just starting to get comfortable. Gray thinks there is more innovation to come and she plans to be at the forefront.

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