The Chronarium soothed and restored Manchester’s shoppers

Can having a nap in a shopping centre improve your sleep? Scientists say that could be the case.

That’s just what the UK premiere of The Chronarium, a sleep lab-meets-art installation at Manchester Arndale that headlined the 2016 Manchester Science Festival did.

As our public and private spaces become increasingly controlled by technology, it’s often hard to switch off when everything is always switched on. However, the answer isn’t always leaving technology behind, but sometimes finding new ways to make it work better for you.

Designed by artists Rachel Wingfield and Mathias Gmachl from London-based Loop.pH, The Chronarium is a sound and light environment designed to improve one of the most important parts of our daily lives – sleep.

The Chronarium offered shoppers the rare opportunity to step inside a haven of calm to recharge their batteries in cyclical restorative sleep sessions throughout the day.

On entering the sleep lab, visitors lay down, rested and relaxed inside suspended hammocks to partake in an exclusive audio-visual experience – with a specially commissioned soundtrack composed by acclaimed artist Anna Meredith.

During each restorative session, visitors were exposed to different environmental stimuli aimed to reset internal circadian rhythms for better, more harmonious sleep. The cyclical audiovisual programme was developed in consultation with leading sleep scientists that look to entrain the brain by encouraging a deep relaxation and rest, using pink noise and a wash of coloured light.

The Chronarium provided a platform for different groups of sleep scientists to share their research and meet visitors to discuss sleep routines after some of the sessions.

This will provide valuable insight into why we sleep and the effects disturbed sleep has on mental and physical wellbeing.

Manchester Science Festival Director Antonio Benitez said: “People living today sleep significantly less than generations before with sleep disorders on the rise. We are only just beginning to understand the impact that sleep disorders have on people’s lives and society at large.

“With the quantity and quality of sleep being constantly challenged by round the clock communications and globalised business, it’s becoming increasingly important to improve the quality of our resting time and develop the necessary skills for sleep. So we are thrilled to be able to offer our MSF visitors the opportunity to experience and be a part of this intriguing and spellbinding scientific experiment and the chance to enhance their mental well-being.”

  • The Chronarium is a project by Loop.pH, commissioned and produced by FutureEverything as a part of FutureEverything Singapore

Press coverage

BBC Chronarium

ITV Chronarium

Mcr Conf Chronarium

MEN Chronarium

Independent Chronarium