How not having a living room can mess with your mental health | Dazed

Schumacher is part of the baby boomer generation, the majority of whom owned houses (with living rooms) by the age of 30. Given that higher prices and lower earnings mean that young people are half as likely to own a home at 30 as Schumacher’s generation were, it’s vital that we listen to what young people want from modern living. Experts like Schumacher would probably have different views were they to actually experience living in a ‘hotel-sized room’, as opposed to a three-storey central London house bought for a fraction of today’s prices.

Young people are already programmed to accept shit housing, for what we convince ourselves is a reasonable amount of money – bit of damp? That’s okay. Controlling live-in landlord? No problem. £800 for a single room with no windows? Sign me up!

“Mental health is already increasingly fragile among young people thanks to crippling social media anxiety, so having a real-world space to relax and gather your thoughts is even more important than ever before”

Living without a communal space is possible, but it doesn’t make it right. Cramped shared housing and one-room flats can be both claustrophobic and isolating – one minute you’re fighting to get a space at the hobs, and the next you’ve been alone in the house for two days and can’t remember when you last spoke out loud. Hosting housemates in your room can feel invasive and awkward, and might actually discourage you from socialising at all.

The lack of space can also fuck up your sleep – how does your brain differentiate between working and sleeping when it all happens in the same place? The National Sleep Foundation has consistently warned about making your bed your workspace, as it affects both productivity and sleeping patterns – your bed should be for sleep and sex only. “One of the biggest mistakes people make in their bedrooms is they try to cram too much in there,” Gary Zammit, director of the Sleep Disorders Institute in New York told Health, “They use it as an office and as an entertainment room right up until the clock strikes 10, and expect to just hit the lights and fall asleep. But the brain doesn’t work that way.” Without a living room, tenants are forced to utilise their bedrooms for working, watching TV and even eating, meaning our brains no longer associate our beds with sleep. It’s not rocket science to know that a lack of sleep can have a huge impact not only on your mood the following day but also on your mental health in the long run.

Living in poor conditions such as damp, dark and cramped housing can also have detrimental effects. A 2017 report by Shelter found that one in five adults in England suffers from anxiety and depression because of housing pressures, including insecure rental contracts and bad conditions. This only enforces how dangerous it is to encourage young people to accept poor quality houses as the norm. It’s not just affecting their mental well-being but also enabling rogue landlords to get away with doing the bare minimum, because the student housing stereotype has taught young people that’s it’s okay. 

This content was originally published here.