Today’s tip for better sleep is a pretty obvious one: sleep in a dark room; it’s pretty hard to sleep with the light on. What’s not so obvious is just how dark it should be. I’m not talking about just “switch the lights out” dark; I mean “can’t see your hand in front of your face” dark. This is probably the most important sleep hack to make; I know it was what made the most difference for my own sleep problems. Sleeping in this level of darkness will mean that you wake up more refreshed and rested than you ever have.
Darkness helps you get better sleep in a number of ways
- No distractions to look at while trying to fall asleep, helping you to get to sleep faster.
- It helps to entrench your circadian rhythm so you get sleepy on time.
- Most importantly it increases melatonin production, which allows you to get much deeper, restorative sleep.
For the full benefits the room has to be completely devoid of light, not even red light. I have talked about the benefits of red-light before bed in a previous blog, and recently I saw people suggesting that you should be exposed to red-light for the entire night, but this is still going to lower melatonin production compared to total darkness.
To darken your room you will of course have to remove light sources from your bedroom. This includes those little lights that most electronics have that are on constantly; preferentially you would want to remove them from the room, but if you cannot you can cover them with electrical tape. Unfortunately, unless you live somewhere remote, this is not enough. The amount of ambient light at night in any city is incredibly high, so you will want to get a blackout blind to cover your window. I recommend the ones from IKEA for most people, as it lays flat against the wall and blocks out almost all light.
If it is not possible for you to make your room dark enough, an eye mask can help, but it is very difficult to find one that not onlt blocks out all light, but is comfortable enough for nightly wear.
The only tricky bit about sleeping in a completely dark room is getting used to it, especially if you have been scared of the dark. The secret is of course to do it in stages. First remove the lights from within your room, then once you have installed a black out blind you can leave it a little above the bottom of the window so a little light still comes in. A motion activated night-light can be useful too as it allows you have a light source that can easily be turned on when you suspect a monster might be creeping around your room. Though once you feel the benefits of sleeping with no light, how much more refreshed and better you feel in the morning, extinguishing every single source of light in your bedroom will quickly become an obsession, as it did for me.