Article at a Glance
- Ensuring your sleep quantity and quality are at their best levels is an important step in maintaining good health.
- Creating an optimally dark environment is crucial to get the best night’s sleep.
- Properly blacking out your room means not just blocking out external light (through furnishings or usage of eye masks), but also blocking lights inside the room that come from electronics.
We’ve heard it time and time again: sleep is crucial for optimal health. Research has come to the conclusion that being sleep deprived leads to issues with hunger management, kidney function, heart function, brain function, blood sugar regulation, and much more. The issues don’t stop with physical health; sleep deprivation can lead to problems with mental and emotional well-being as well. However, it’s not primarily the quantity of sleep that determines how healthy we are, it’s the quality of sleep we get.
One of the main things that affects quality of sleep is the amount of light one is exposed to while sleeping. You may think that small amounts of light are fine, but even small amounts of light can negatively impact sleep quality. Because of this, it is crucial to completely darken your bedroom to optimize your body’s healing processes. Let’s take a look into how to accomplish that.
One of the ways the human body regulates its circadian rhythm is through exposure to blue light. This is why humans stay awake in the daytime when there is sunlight, and slowly get more tired through the evening after the sun goes down [R]. When the human body is exposed to any kind of blue light, changes can occur to the circadian rhythm, which can lead to difficulty falling asleep at the right time or quality of sleep that isn’t optimal.
One might think that only large quantities of light will affect circadian rhythm, but the reality is that even dim light or small quantities of light, such as from electronics, can disrupt sleep quantity and/or quality [R, R]. Because of this, a room has to be completely dark (not unlike the caves prehistoric humans used to sleep in) in order to ensure that one has good quality and quantity of sleep. Luckily, creating a perfect blackout sleep environment can be done in a few easy steps.
Blocking Out External Light
The first step to creating a perfectly blacked out space is by blocking out any light that comes from outside the bedroom, be it from the moon, streetlights, cars, and so on. The best way to do this is to use blackout curtains for windows, and skylight shades for any light that comes through from above. Of course, light that comes in from under doors should not be ignored as well and can be covered up with rubber fittings or simply a rolled-up towel or blanket.
For blackout curtains, ensure that they measure several inches longer and wider than the windows they are placed on so that no light can sneak in. For a better blackout, use wraparound rods so that the curtains wrap completely around the window and lean against the wall. If budget is a concern and buying new curtains is not really an option, an alternative would be to buy blackout liners to line the curtains that are currently being used in the bedroom.
Blocking Out Light Inside the Room
Because even small amounts of light can be detected while one sleeps, it is crucial that any electronics in the room that emit light are switched off or at the very least covered so that no light shines through from them into the room at all. You can:
- Turn off laptops, cellphones, and other gadgets that will not be used during the night.
- For small lights that cannot be switched off while in use, e.g chargers, try to black out the light with duct tape.
- Avoid using digital clocks that stay on throughout the night. Instead, opt for the ones that show the time when touched or when a button is pressed.
Using Eye Masks
Another option to completely blackout your environment is to use eye masks when sleeping. This is an especially good option if blacking out the environment completely is feasible. Eye masks should be comfortable when placed on the eyes. For some, weighted ones offer a better slumber, but for others, regular masks without the extra weight are more comfortable to wear.
Besides the regular eye masks that only function to block out light, there are now more feature-packed eye masks in the market that aim to help users to lucid dream or meditate. These may function by visual manipulation through lights within the mask itself, which the user can focus on as they slowly slip into a meditative or sleep state. Some display light patterns that target the eyes during the REM state so that the user can experience a “false awakening” which allows them to lucid dream. This may seem counterintuitive for good sleep, but it is an option for those who want to explore the world of lucid dreaming.
To get optimal sleep, light should be eliminated as much as possible at night in order to maintain a proper circadian rhythm. For this reason, creating the most blacked-out environment possible in the bedroom or sleeping space is very important. For more personalized advice on optimizing your sleep quality, take a look at our directory of sleep experts and arrange for a consultation.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. Information is provided for educational purposes. You should consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website.