Architects should stop being dozy

I remember talking to a recently qualified architect about somebody who was considering training in architecture as a mature student.

The man I was talking to thought it would be a bad idea because he doubted that she would be able to hack the all-nighters. He rhapsodised about the feeling of walking back to your room in the morning light in that confused state of not having slept.

I also recall talking to an architect, a principal in a practice, who was around 50 at the time, and who proudly announced that he had just pulled an all-nighter as part of a bid.

There is a lot of bravado in this approach, but a book I have read recently convinces me, if I need convincing, just how misplaced it is. ‘Why we Sleep‘ is by Matthew Walker, not some touchy-feely new ager but a world expert on the science of sleep. His research over 20-odd years into what exactly sleep is and what it has done for us has led him to revise radically his attitudes to health.

Once, he believed, there was a triumvirate of good diet, adequate exercise and plentiful sleep. Now, he says, he believes that sleep is the pre-eminent good. It is essential, he says, for mental and physical agility, for learning and memories, for creativity, for avoiding car accidents and diabetes, for warding off infections, cancer and dementia, and for, quite simply, making us live longer.

There is nobody, he says, who can sleep for six hours or less a night and not suffer. And productivity increases so much with sleep that the well-slept, working shorter hours, will outperform their sleepless colleagues who embrace a long-hours culture.

Architecture is already having to embrace the changing role of the profession in construction, and also address issues of diversity. it should also tackle sleep. Read the book and see if you agree.

I bet Norman Foster gets enough sleep.

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