We all know that a dark room is best for sleep.
Light from either the rising sun or electronic devices can prevent us from getting good quality sleep and staying asleep.
However, despite the fact that most people already know this, it isn’t very common for people to take the steps needed to darken their rooms for better sleep. Even though it isn’t terribly difficult to blackout your room, there are some good tips and tricks to keep in mind to do so effectively.
In this guide, you will learn absolutely everything you need to know about how to blackout your room for better sleep.
Additionally, you will learn a number of different ways to darken your room so that you can decide for yourself which methods are best for you. But first, exactly why is it necessary to block out light for better sleep in the first place?
Importance of blocking out light for better sleep
We all know that having less light in the bedroom is best for good quality sleep, but why exactly?
Ultimately, the primary reason is your circadian rhythm or your internal 24-hour clock. Your circadian rhythm naturally helps you feel awake and alert during the day and drowsy at night. This self-regulating internal clock basically is what helps your body wind down for sleep once it gets dark out1.
At night, when the sun goes down and the temperature cools off, an influx of the melatonin is triggered. Melatonin is a hormone that makes you tired and ready for sleep. However, when your body is winding down for sleep at night and you are exposed to stimulating electronic light, this electronic light can prevent your body from producing melatonin. This electronic light can essentially trick your body into thinking that it is actually day time when really it might be 11:00 at night, hours after the sun went down. In turn, LED lights scattered around your room, no matter how insignificant they might seem, can hurt your sleep quality.2.
In addition to blocking out the various electronic lights in your room, it also may be important to block out the morning sunlight as well.
In general, it is good to rise in the morning with the sun and go to sleep in the late evening when the sun goes down. However, if for whatever reason you go to bed on the late side, the early morning sunlight might prevent you from getting your 7-9 hours of rest that your body needs. If morning sunlight is waking you up when you should be sleeping for longer, effectively blacking out your windows can make a big difference.
Challenges of getting quality sleep in today’s day and age
Getting good quality sleep in today’s modern society can be a bit difficult. After all, there are hundreds of electronic devices that can potentially distract you.
However, phones, TVs, and computers late at night may be the most harmful to your sleep. Devices such as these generally increase your alertness more so than say just a digital alarm clock by your bed. This is largely because phones, TVs, and computers often keep your mind engaged with whatever is on the screen when your mind should really be winding down for sleep.
Additionally, in today’s day and age, millions of people work primarily during the night and only really get a chance to get sleep during the day. Given the body’s circadian rhythm, this is not naturally how we are supposed to live. Sleeping for long periods of time when it’s light out is inherently hard to do.
It’s clear that in today’s society where technology is so prevalent and working odd hours is common, getting good quality sleep is more of a challenge than ever. However, by taking the necessary steps to completely blackout your room so that there isn’t a spec of light to see, you can be more prepared to get the best quality sleep, when you need it.
Windows are one of the biggest challenges to blacking out your room since they have the potential to let a TON of light into your room early in the morning. However, in order to make your room as dark as possible, it is critical that you take the necessary steps to block as much window light as possible.
Blackout curtains and cellular shades
Blackout curtains are exactly what they sound like: curtains that block out all sunlight. These curtains are made typically with tightly woven polyester, made thick enough so that it doesn’t allow for any light to come through. Of all the blackout solutions, blackout curtains are one of the most aesthetically pleasing and stylish ways to make your room darker.
Installing blackout curtains
Installing blackout curtains is not much different than installing any other set of curtains. Simply mark how high you want your curtain rod to be, and drill your brackets into your wall accordingly. You can then thread your curtains onto the curtain rod and attach the rod to the brackets. For more detailed instructions on how to set up blackout curtains, click here!
The only difference between installing blackout curtains and any other curtains is that blackout curtains often require a more heavy-duty rod and pair of brackets given that blackout curtains tend to be heavier than typical curtains.
- They most often look like typical curtains. You can block out light while having tasteful décor
- Many blackout curtains also are effective at soundproofing your room as well
- They aren’t the most effective room blackout solution in the world. There are other ways that block out more light
- Cleaning your blackout curtains may be necessary every once in a while
Blackout cellular shades
Blackout cellular shades are similar to blackout curtains since they look authentic and aesthetically pleasing, unlike other blackout solutions that may look tacky.
Blackout cellular shades are made specifically with thick blackout fabric so that no light can shine through. They can be fitted down to fractions of an inch to fit perfectly within your window frame. This way practically no light at all can get in around the edges. In turn, when selecting blackout cellular shades for your windows it is crucial that you make sure they fit your window as tightly as possible so that little to no light can shine through around the edges.
Installing blackout cellular shades
There isn’t anything really special about blackout cellular shades that makes them any different to set up to regular cellular shades. You simply need to drill your brackets into your window frame properly and then hook in the cellular shades. To learn more about how to install cellular shades click here!
- Cellular shades look good and can match with practically any style of décor in your home
- Being able to draw them up quickly and easily is very convenient
- Cellular shades typically only work with windows with a standard shape and size. This approach is not ideal for blacking out oddly shaped windows
- A slight mismeasurement of your window can mean ordering cellular shades that don’t perfectly fit your windows
Blacking out windows without curtains or cellular shades
Blackout window film
Blackout window film is essentially thick film paper that adheres to your window’s surface. You simply need to cut out the film to fit the dimensions of your window and stick it on.
The greatest appeal of blackout window film is probably that it is extremely good at blocking window light. With this approach, you really can blackout your windows completely without letting any light in at all. Blackout curtains or even cellular shades, on the other hand, can still let a little bit of light leak around the sides no matter what.
Installing blackout window film
To put this material in place, first, it is important that you take careful measurements of your window’s width and height as precisely as you possibly can. Once you have those measurements, you can then make markings of the dimensions of the window on your blackout film. This way you can cut along these markings to fit the window film within your window. Typically the paper that you peel off the back of the film can be drawn on to make marking up your window film easier.
- Inexpensive blackout solution especially if you have to cover multiple windows
- Verrrrry good solutions for blocking window light ENTIRELY
- Good window darkening solutions for oddly shaped windows that require a tailored fit blackout solution
- You can’t put the film back up after you take it off so if you are going to use film, you should be ok with having it up for a while
- You must be very meticulous when it comes to measuring and cutting out your film otherwise you can have sunlight shining in around the edges
DIY window blackout solutions for cheap: cardboard, trash bags, tin foil and more…
If you just aren’t interested in spending much to blackout your room, there certainly are still ways in which you can do so for cheap.
Better yet, you can probably implement many of these DIY window blackout solutions just with materials you have laying around your house.
There are a few materials which you can use that you probably already have including…
- Black trashbags
Installing DIY window blackout materials
Ultimately each of these materials is going to require a slightly different approach to putting them on your windows. For cardboard and tin foil, you are going to need to cut the materials to shape the dimensions of your windows as precisely as you can and then use some painters tape to put them into place over your windows.
As for trash bags and blankets, you will want to tape the edges of these materials to the wall all around your window frame.
As for painting your windows, you obviously must take a different approach. You can learn more about how to blackout your windows with paint here!
- All super cheap materials to work with
- Relatively easy setup process
- Using these materials can look really tacky from inside and out of your room. There is nothing aesthetically pleasing about this approach.
Ways to block artificial light
Blocking out the intense natural light of the sun in the morning is important, however, for a good nights sleep it is also necessary to reduce the disturbance of electronic light within your house.
Blocking light from under your door
Although the space under the typical door is usually less than half an inch, this small gap can be enough to allow for a huge influx of light from your hallway to be let into your bedroom.
You can fix this issue simply by using a two-sided door draft stopper which is essentially a foam insert that slips right along the bottom of your door. Of course, these stoppers are made to reduce any drafts running through your home but it also makes for a great soundproofing tool as well. Of course, the most important function of these devices is that they block light from your hallways from getting into your room.
For a quick and dirty, DIY substitute you can simply use a rolled-up towel at the base of your door instead.
Block light from electronic devices in your bedroom
Although you might think that your room is pretty dark when you turn the lights off, next time you go to bed, take note of all the little electronic devices around the room and the light they emit.
You will probably notice that your room has numerous little lights that collectively can make your room not nearly as dark as it could be. Although these little lights might seem insignificant, they still can affect your sleep.
Some common electronic light-emitting devices in your bedroom include…
- Cell phones
- Cable boxes
- Air conditioning units
- Alarm clocks
- Chargers for electronics
Light blocking strips
To block the light from these miscellaneous devices, you may use light-blocking LED strips. Light blocking LED strips are little adhesive black stickers that are made to tape over your electronic lights. Using these little stickers on the disruptive LED lights of cable boxes, AC units and more can eliminate completely any artificial light in your room.
Alternatively, you can also simply use bits and pieces of black electrical tape as well which can serve the same purpose.
Removing electronics you don’t need
The easiest way to prevent electronic light from hurting your sleep is by just removing all electronic devices from your room. Unless they absolutely need to be in your bedroom, just move them somewhere else. Alternatively, you can turn these devices around to the wall or put them farther away from your bed so that the light they give off doesn’t directly shine at you.
Once your windows, the space under your door, and all your electronics have been dealt with, your room should be 100% blacked out. When done right, you shouldn’t be able to see a thing at night: not even your hand 6 inches in front of your face.
That being said, although complete blackness is the goal for better sleep, achieving this total darkness can potentially be slightly dangerous. After all, the last thing you want to do is trip and fall over something on the floor as you make your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Using motion-detecting lights in certain spots in the bedroom is an excellent solution to this dilemma. These devices can give you light only when you need to move around your bedroom and otherwise won’t disturb your sleep.
For instance, you can invest in a motion sensor night light that you could put close by to your bed. Lights like this are great because they aren’t big enough to be blindingly bright but they are still illuminative enough for you to be able to see where you are going.
Alternatively, there are LED motion sensor light strips designed to be put in place under your bed. That way, as soon as you put your feet on the ground to get up, the lights will flip on.
Additional steps you can take to get a better nights sleep
Creating an ideal sleeping environment is crucial for getting good quality sleep. However, there are also ways to help your body wind down before you get into bed that can improve your sleep quality even more.
Turn off electronics 30 minutes before bed
Realistically, in today’s day and age, avoiding all electronic devices before bed can be difficult. However, the most stimulating electronic devices such as TVs, phones, and computers should be put away at least 30 minutes before sleep. Avoiding engaging with these devices for some time before bed can really help your body wind down. This, in turn, can help you get to sleep much faster.
Blue-light-free light bulbs
Blue light is dubbed to be particularly harmful to sleep given that it suppresses the production of melatonin (a hormone that helps you go to sleep) more so than other types of light. As a result, if you are constantly exposed to blue light late in the evening you might find it much harder to drift off to sleep, given that you may feel too alert to rest3.
Blue light is commonly found in electronic devices such as phones and computers, but florescent lightbulbs and other LED light can be just as damaging. A good way to avoid taking in too much blue light before bed, in addition to turning off electronics 30 minutes before sleep, is to swap out florescent light bulbs with blue-light-free light bulbs. These light bulbs emit amber or dark yellow light which is much less effective at keeping you alert and awake as opposed to bright white light.
In turn, if you prefer to read at your bed before going to sleep, using a blue-light-free lightbulb in your bedside lamp can work wonders for your sleep quality.
If you are having trouble getting to sleep and feeling well-rested in the morning, having too much light in your bedroom could be the problem. It’s amazing how much of a difference eliminating even the smallest light sources can do for your sleep.
However, creating total blackness can take time and effort and in some cases, it’s hard to do. If for whatever reason you don’t want to completely blackout your bedroom but still want the benefits of sleeping in complete darkness, a sleep mask might be the better solution for you. Sleep masks are a sure-fire way to block out all light so that you can sleep soundly even during the day. As long as you are comfortable with a mask resting on your face as you sleep, this can be an excellent sleep aid.
Lastly, it is important to note that creating complete darkness in your bedroom is not the only thing you can do to create the ideal sleeping environment or yourself. Soundproofing your bedroom and improving bedroom air quality are also important when it comes to getting a good nights rest.
- “What is Circadian Rhythm” www.sleepfoundation.org, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/what-circadian-rhythm
- “How Blue LEDs Affect Sleep” www.livescience.com, https://www.livescience.com/53874-blue-light-sleep.html
- “How Blue Light Affects Kids & Sleep” www.sleepfoundation.org, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-blue-light-affects-kids-sleep