An Environmental Protection Agency report from 2018 stated that Americans spend an average of 90 percent of their time indoors. Now, as people’s homes also become their offices, schools, and recreation areas, having a healthful home environment is more important than ever.
Caroline Blazovsky is familiar with the health benefits – physical and mental – of having large windows and sliding glass doors in homes. Her nationwide company, My Healthy Home, conducts indoor air and water testing, and she’s evaluated more than 30,000 houses over the past 20 years. “We take the glass we look out of for granted,” she says, “but how much more peace do you feel when you can look out, see nature, and feel more connected with the world?”
Research increasingly shows the virtues provided by large sliding glass doors – natural light, ventilation, access to nature and the outdoors – have numerous health benefits. Homeowners who want to incorporate indoor-outdoor living into their existing homes can change the way they live with sliding doors that function like moving walls of glass.
4 Health Benefits of Indoor-Outdoor Living
1. Cleaner Air. There’s evidence that natural light and ventilation through open doors and windows can literally help clear the air. “If we ventilate properly, we can reduce the amount of chemicals in the air and have better air quality,” Blazovsky says, adding that natural light coming through glass doors and windows can also impact bacteria. “Studies tell us bacteria counts go down when we expose bacteria or microorganisms to natural light.”
2. Better Sleep. Glass doors provide access to natural light. “Exposure to daylight has been proven to have a significant impact on mood, circadian health, and productivity,” says Nathan Stodola, chief engineer for the International WELL Building Institute. “Light is the main driver of the visual and circadian systems. Studies have associated lack of exposure to daylight with a disruption in the circadian rhythm of humans.”
3. Improved Mental Focus. Environmental psychologist Sally Augustin, principal at Design With Science, says research only continues to grow about the positive impacts of natural light and well-ventilated spaces on our moods and mental performance. “Visual access to the outdoors is really important because it can help us reduce stress levels and mentally refresh after we’ve become cognitively exhausted, particularly if you can see water or the natural landscape,” she says.
4. Reduced Stress. A survey in April 2020 conducted by realtor.com and Toluna Insights showed the biggest complaint from 1,300 homeowners surveyed about their homes was “small spaces.” Large sliding glass doors create more space while inviting nature in. “Exposure to plants and other natural elements has been linked with decreased levels of diastolic blood pressure, depression and anxiety, increased attentional capacity, better recovery from job stress and illness, increased psychological well-being, and increased pain tolerance,” Stodola says.
4 Tips for a Healthful Home Environment
1. Ventilate. Open windows and sliding patio doors to let fresh air circulate through your home. “If I have fresh air outside, that’s my first line of defense,” Blazovsky says.
2. Let the sunshine in. Large glass doors provide exposure to natural light, which can battle bacteria while boosting better sleep.
3. Get a better view to the outdoors. Having a view of nature through a moving wall of glass can reduce stress levels and give the brain a break from visual busywork. “Providing longer sight lines through (glass) can give your eyes an opportunity to relax if they can focus on a distance, especially if you’ve been doing lots of reading or other up-close visual type of work,” Augustin says.
4. Make more space for nature. Large sliding glass doors seamlessly merge the indoors with the outside, creating more open space while providing a connection to nature. “Through incorporation of nature, the built environment serves as a powerful tool to help relieve stress and mental fatigue, support focus, and encourage overall mental well-being,” Stodola says.