What is a sleeping porch? It's exactly as it sounds -- a screened-in porch utilized for sheltered sleep outside. But how did it come to be? And why did people use them? Learn the history of sleeping porches, why they're now having a renaissance, and some fun ideas for creating your own cozy sleeping porch at home.
Sleeping porch history
Imagine living in the American South and trying to sleep during summer's oppressive heat and humidity...without air conditioning. It seems unbearable, right? Before air conditioning, people would sleep on a porch at night to beat the heat. Sleeping porches were typically large, screened-in balconies located on the second floor of the home. They were often built to maximize the breeze, and the screens helped keep pesky bugs outside where they belong. It wasn't out of the ordinary for the entire family to sleep on the porch during hot summer nights.
A century ago, during the 1920s, demand for homes with sleeping porches increased significantly with a "sanitary revolution." Much like today, fresh air became known as a cure-all for the ailments of the time, even tuberculosis. Back then, people didn't understand why the fresh air helped reduce illnesses, just that it helped improve their health.
Years later, sleeping porches fell out of favor, eventually succumbing to the popularity of air conditioning. Homes were no longer built to take advantage of cool evenings and natural breezes. Once air conditioning became the norm, homes were designed to keep artificially cooled air inside and the hot air outside. Today, people often keep their home's windows shut all year long.
Sleeping porch renaissance
With the advent of the pandemic, not to mention an increased interest in energy-efficiency and sustainability, the desire for more outdoor living space is now making a comeback. Covered porches are having a renaissance, as today's homebuyers seek them to better deal with the public health crisis. Homeowners are also now more in favor of sustainable design features, like open windows instead of air conditioning.
Quality sleep depends on stress, anxiety, noise, artificial light, and air quality. Slumbering outside in the fresh air alleviates many harmful factors. Compelling health benefits gained from sleeping outside include:
- Exposure to natural sunlight, especially sunrise and sunset, helps reset your body clock to correspond to natural circadian rhythms.
- Reducing your nightly exposure to blue light from your phone and computer helps improve melatonin production, which is the hormone that regulates your sleep.
- Studies show that being outdoors helps boost levels of white blood cells and anti-cancer proteins, both of which increase your immunity to illnesses.
- Our brains utilize the majority of the oxygen we inhale. Fresh, clean air provides better quality than stale, indoor air -- so a night outside improves your ability to think.
- Seeing trees and listening to the calming sounds of the outdoors reduces stress and restores calm. That's why spas often play nature sounds throughout their facilities.
Ideas for creating your own sleeping porch
If you have a home with a porch, you already have the makings to set it up for sleep. Here are some ideas for an attractive, comfy, and snug sleeping porch:
- Consider using a daybed. With the right pillows and decorative accents, it makes your porch look less like a bedroom. It can also double as extra seating when you're entertaining.
- A hanging bed is trendy yet comfortable. It's an eye-catching decorative detail that's also functional since it's easy to clean underneath.
- For optimal comfort, put your bed in a spot that takes advantage of cool breezes.
- Utilize a ceiling fan to cool and circulate the air.
- Try sconce lighting for nighttime reading.
- For more privacy, add shutters or curtains.
- If there's not a fireplace already built-in to your porch, consider a gas fire pit. They're easy to install and require little space. Their warmth can extend your porch into a cozy, three-season space.
A sleeping porch is a fantastic way to feel connected to the outdoors while creating a camp-like environment protected from the bugs and weather. It's also the perfect place for taking a nap and reading a book, not to mention getting quality nighttime slumber. Try it, and you'll soon enjoy improved mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
If you're in the market for a home that incorporates more functional outdoor living spaces, we can help. Our Southern Living-Inspired Community prides itself on stunning homes with many pretty porches with tranquil views of Lake Oconee, the golf course, ponds, and woods. Whether it's new construction or a resale, we'd love to help make your dream home a reality. Take a look at the current listings and let us know if you'd like a tour of a home, homesite, or our community. We look forward to helping you not only sleep better at night but showing you how wonderful life can be at Harbor Club. Get in touch today.