Look for natural light in your next living space

Max Laky, Columnist

As student high-rises continue to sprout up around West Campus, contractors and developers are doing whatever it takes to squeeze into the highly lucrative student housing craze. As a result, new buildings are using almost every square inch of building space for units, leaving many bedrooms windowless or without natural light. 

While these rooms are often listed at lower rates, the tradeoff that comes without natural light is greater than just the price. Natural light has been proven essential to one’s health, and without access to natural light in their bedrooms, students are more susceptible to linked health issues and worsened sleep quality.

Before signing leases, students should prioritize bedrooms with windows. While not every student can afford to top their rent with a window, choosing a room with one should be prioritized. 

“I personally didn’t think it was going to be too big of a deal,” said business sophomore Jake Seinfeld, who is living without a window in his bedroom next year due to his apartment’s layout. “And I knew my roommates wanted (a window), so I didn’t make too much of a fit about it when it was brought up.”

The effects of natural light may not be obvious, but they’re certainly real. Last spring, I took Architecture and Society. My favorite lecture was a lesson on natural light and its ability to transform a space. Natural light can completely change the form of a building, especially on the inside. My professor also mentioned its unique ability to improve mood, or contribute to depression with a lack of it. 

Foolishly, I went against my professor’s advice to bring natural light into my living space. One semester later, I deeply regret this decision. Now, I live without a window and can’t even tell what time of day it is when the door is shut. There are countless positive associations between natural light and mood, sleep and general health. Ultraviolet light from the sun acts as a natural disinfectant, making rooms without windows more vulnerable to bacteria and diseases. Living without windows is much more than just an amenity trade off. 

“I just feel a little bit more lethargic throughout the day. And it can be hard sometimes for me to wake up because there’s no natural light coming into my room,” said business sophomore Dylan Rubin, who lives without a window in his bedroom. “It’s horrible. I mean, you can’t even wake up because it’s pitch black, but it’s nine o’clock in the morning.”

While not everyone will have the same unpleasant experience, it is important to keep in mind the proven effects of spending time in rooms without real light. Oftentimes, the difference between an apartment’s windowed and non-windowed rooms is noticeable but negligible.

“The no window units in our apartment were $30 cheaper (per month),” Rubin said. 

While it is important to keep in mind a budget in determining your living space, the decision to spend that little extra on a window will end up paying itself forward. Before you sign your next lease, ask yourself: Does your room have the most important amenity — a window?

Laky is an economics sophomore from Chicago, Illinois.