Are Your Blinds Keeping You Awake?

If you travel with binder clips to seal the tiny crack between hotel room curtains, you’re probably someone who is very sensitive to light. But even if you don’t consider yourself particularly sensitive, a dark room is key for a restful night’s sleep. Unless your schedule forces you to wake up with the sun, you should consider ways to block excess light from your bedroom. These days, window treatments aren’t just for decorating, they also serve a functional purpose that’s important to your sleep quality and long-term health: blocking excess light.

If your traditional blinds are letting in too much light, or you only have sheer curtains covering your bedroom windows, consider swapping them for one of the many other options that can transform your bedroom into a dark and restful personal retreat.

The Problem with Light

A restful sleeping environment consists of a dark, cool, and quiet room according to the Better Sleep Council. Our bodies are programmed to sleep at sunset and to wake when the sun rises. You can blame Thomas Edison for messing with that formula. Modern humans work at all hours and most of us sleep past the sunrise at least once a week. You may find ambient city lights can affect your sleep as well.

Your ability to sleep well starts with a tiny gland in your brain, the pineal gland, which responds to circadian rhythm. Any light sources at night including: TVs, phones, tablets, and even urban light pollution can disrupt your pineal gland and reduce melatonin production, making it harder to sleep.

Making sure that your bedroom is completely dark at the times you need to sleep, whether at night or during the day, is critical for getting the rest you need to stay healthy.

Why Blinds May Not Be the Answer

In apartments, blinds tend to be the standard window dressing. While most are adequate for keeping random eyes from looking in, they tend to do a poor job of blocking light. Typically, the individual blinds let in light between them, and light can also filter in from the sides.

Fortunately, other options exist. As evidenced by the darkness in most hotel rooms, draperies and curtains can do a good job of blocking light, especially when they include blackout liners applied to the window-facing sides. Another option is a separate blackout curtain paired with a translucent curtain, which allows for a choice of total darkness or filtered light. Curtains also can work in tandem with shades.

Another option is inexpensive blackout roller shades, which can be attached to the front of a window frame to prevent light from bleeding in from the sides. The largest problem with blackout shades is that they can be quite unattractive, but you can pair them with an additional treatment for better aesthetics.

If You Choose to Stick with Blinds

Although blinds aren’t the best option if you’re going for total darkness, some people have their reasons for using them. Even so, you still have a few options for minimizing the amount of light leaking through. Consider aluminum blinds, which block light more effectively than vinyl. Routless blinds eliminate the hole for the string, blocking a little more light.

Whatever variety of blinds you choose, consider going with wider slats, which let in less light since there are fewer breaks.

Cool and Dark Sleep Environments Are Best

Even if you don’t think you’re bothered by stray light filtering into your bedroom, excess light will interfere with your sleep. For restful, deep sleep, consider upgrading your blinds or replacing them with window treatments that completely block light. When you create a personal retreat that’s dark, cool, and quiet for sleeping, you’ll wake up more refreshed and feel better throughout the day.