darken bedroom window for sleep

How To Darken Your Bedroom Window for Sleep (A Helpful Illustrated Guide)

How to darken a bedroom window? I’m just sitting here in my girlfriend’s bedroom. She has pretty good roller shutters that make her room pitch black at night. But not everyone has them built-in. So, how can you darken a bedroom window without these massive roller shutters?

Sleep heavily depends on the lighting conditions in your bedroom. Sunlight that passes through your window will wake you up in the morning. While, on the other hand, if you go to bed early and it’s still bright outside, you won’t be able to sleep. This has been covered by many studies. One of them showed that bright light even resets the human sleep rhythm (this study).

To learn how to darken a bedroom window for sleep, I have several methods prepared for you! Here’s what we’re going to cover

  • How to darken a bedroom window using window shades
  • My secret trick to darken your window using curtains
  • The cheap method: Darken your bedroom window using bedsheets
  • Permanently darken your room using black window film
  • Why you should darken your window every night

After you’ve read this article, you’ll know exactly what to do to cover your window! Also, you’ll know exactly whether window shades or curtains are a good investment for you or whether you should use the cheap bed sheets-darkening method.

Quick answer: You can darken your bedroom using window shades or curtains. Also, you can try to build your own light blocker from bedsheets. If nothing helps, you can use black window foil, which will block off 100% of the light.

Personally, I have 3 bedrooms: One at my parent’s house, one at university and one at my girlfriend’s house. And for all of them, I use different window darkening methods.

At home, I darken my bedroom with window shades. At university, in my student’s dorm, I darken my bedroom using the cheap method (with bedsheets). And at my girlfriend’s house, there are built-in external roller shutters.

How to darken a bedroom window using window shades

A short introduction to window shades

The purpose of window shades is to cover your window and to stop light. They consist of soft fabric material and are available in different colors. For darkening a bedroom for sleep, thick window shades are usually the best decision as they’ll absorb most of the light. But you can also get thinner ones if you don’t want complete to get darkness.

Shades are easy to install. The ones I have at home are attached to the top edge of the window using a simple hook mechanism.

There are different installation mechanisms for basically every type of shades. The simplest solution is to read through the reviews. See whether other buyers said it’s easy to install or not. 

A new type of shades installation mechanism is becoming more and more popular as it is incredibly cheap: Paper shades.

Using a knife or scissors you can cut them to the right width and then you can stick them to the window. It’s done within a minute. However, I’m not sure how durable they are.

Check out these window paper blackout shades (reviewed by over 3,000 buyers) on amazon.com.

How to darken a room using shades

Shades cover your window, so the more you lower your shades, the less light passes through it. That’s it.

I usually lower my shades until they cover my whole window and I’m done. It’s a process of 3 seconds.

Personally, I use more durable roller shades, like these ones on amazon.com. I’ve bought mine about 8 years ago. They are still in perfect condition.

window black out roller shades

My secret trick to darken your window using curtains

If you use curtains for darkening your bedroom window, you are a big step ahead. Curtains are much more durable. They’ll last for years. And they can be really thick so no light passes through them.

However, there’s one downside. Curtains hang straight down, leaving an open gap at the bottom. Light will shine through this gap.

Even if you have the best light blocking curtains out there, there will still be a gap at the bottom where the light will shine through. It’s a bottleneck.

However, I found a way to bypass this issue for most windows.

Lift the lower part of your curtains and place them on the windowsill. Basically, you just make sure that there are no gaps where light can go through.

If you have no windowsill, you can be a little creative and use something else to close the gap. You could, for example, lean something (maybe a nightstand) against the curtains.

black out curtains

Check out these amazing blackout curtains on amazon (with over 6,000 five star reviews!).

The cheap method: Darken your bedroom window using bedsheets

I have no window shades in my student’s dorm. So, I had to think of a way to block the light from outdoors. Even though I have pretty good curtains there, there’s a problem. The curtains don’t help. A street light is shining right into my window. And if you have a light shining right through your window, you need some special armor to tackle this problem.

After getting creative I came up with a special method. This of course also works without a street light shining into your bedroom.

All you have to do is to get some bedsheets and you’re ready to go. Tilt open your window so there’s a gap at the top edge of the window. Clamp your bedsheets into that gap and then close your window. If you need to, you can hold the bedsheets in place by putting something heavy on the window sill.

Your bedsheets will act as an extra layer of light protection. Because I have curtains in my room and additionally use bedsheets, absolutely no light shines through my window. It’s pitch black.

Darken your windows using double layers

In the previous method, we combined curtains with bedsheets clamped to the window. However, you can combine light blockers just as you please.

bedroom window with curtains and light passing through
Curtains with light passing through… We need to fix this.

For example, you can also support your curtains with additional window shades. Or you can simply apply double layer window shades. Because they are often made of just paper, you can stack them until they completely block light.

Double layers are only necessary if you need complete darkness at night. Or if you need maximum light blocking capabilities (when you have lights shining through your window at night).

bedroom window and bedsheets

Double layering to darken your window is like the last resort to darkening your room, but it never fails.

completely darkened bedroom window

Permanently darken your room using black window film

What we’ve previously talked about are approaches that are all flexible to some degree. If you want, you can let the sunshine through your window and when you want to sleep, you can close the curtains or lower the shades.

If you want a room to be dark permanently, you can get a black window film. It’s a film you stick to your window and stays there permanently. Black window films are not only effective for light blocking, but also for your privacy. If you have a window where strangers could easily look through, don’t hesitate to apply window film to it so no one can disturb your privacy.

Black window films are great for shift workers who often need to sleep during the daytime. It will block 100% of the light and makes your room pitch black.
Also, they are great for keeping the heat outside of your bedroom. As the light gets reflected directly at the window, no greenhouse effects take place.

My recommendation: Use black window film when curtains don’t work for you. Using curtains, there’s always some light slipping through. If you feel that disturbs your sleep, use black window film.

Why you should darken your window every night

It doesn’t matter which of the previous methods you apply. It just matters that you darken your window at night. The reason is that even a tiny amount of brightness at night can significantly lower your sleep quality. Oftentimes people underestimate the power of light at night. Not only does it lower your sleep quality, but it also shifts your sleep rhythm.

Imagine, you have a street light shining through your window at night and you have to wake up at 6 am to go to work. If you don’t do something about your nightly light exposure, you’ll wake up tired every single morning! The reason is that your sleep rhythm is shifted every night when you go to sleep.

As your brain perceives light, it thinks “Oh, it can’t be night yet”. But it’s totally false.

By blocking off the light at night you can establish a solid sleep schedule. You’ll fall asleep faster and you’ll feel more refreshed in the morning.

The Outline – How to darken your window at night

To sleep better, darkening your window is crucial. You can achieve this in 4 different ways. The most common one is to install window shades. They are cheap and often a good start. However, not always is your window suited for a window shades installation. In that case, thick light blocking curtains are a great idea. Light blocking curtains are a little more pricey, but they’ll last a lifetime. In case you want to be a little cheap, you can build your own light-blocking curtains from bedsheets that you clamp in the top edge of your window. The last resort would be window blackout foil. By giving up the opportunity to let the light shine in during daytime (it is a permanent installation – you don’t want to stick foil to your window every night), you’ll get 100% pitch-black light blocking. It is often a good trade-off. However, not a good idea if you have a one-room apartment.

If you feel that your current darkening method doesn’t really work, what you can do is to layer different methods. For example, you can use a curtain together with window shades. By layering, you’ll block off all the light. I often do that myself with curtains and bedsheets clamped to the window.

If you want to learn more about sleep improvement, definitely take a look at the guides section. It is full of free tips on how to fall asleep better, which sleep products are worth it and which aren’t and I even talk about how you can fall asleep better on your next camping trip.

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