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Experiences with blackout curtains or opaque window film?

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by Ocean, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. Ocean

    Ocean Senior Member

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    I'm thinking of trying out blackout curtains or window film to block the light in my bedroom. I ordered the curtains once before and wasn't too happy with them, although it was years ago so I don't remember why I didn't like them. I like the idea of dark window film (not totally black though) that blocks light from getting in, since with curtains light can still seep in through the sides and top where the curtains don't quite meet the wall. Has anyone had any luck with either of these items, or some other way of keeping light out for sleeping during the day?
  2. LilacGardenia

    LilacGardenia

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    When I take naps during the day (like in the summer when it's still light out at like 9 PM or when the moon is really bright), I draw my window blinds. I have blinds built into the windows... there's like multiple layers of glass with blinds sandwiched in between them... Curtains can also work. I also have one of those eye mask things you wear to keep the light out, but I don't really use it as I find it unnecessary for my needs and don't exactly like to wear them -- some people do, though.

    Do you work at night and sleep during the day, or do you just find yourself napping a lot during the day?
  3. Ocean

    Ocean Senior Member

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    Thanks LilacGardenia. I do have both blinds and curtains but it's not enough. I'm looking for something to completely keep the light out so it is as dark as night during the day. I'm sensitive to eye masks and can't wear them unfortunately. Your blinds setup sounds interesting, I've never heard of blinds sandwiched between glass like that.
  4. caledonia

    caledonia

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    You can go cheap like I did. I have some dark blue curtains from Kmart, then also keep the blinds closed. On my east window I have also taped up some aluminum foil. It just faces the neighbor's front porch so no loss there - don't want them peeping into my bedroom anyway.

    Lately, I've added an eye mask which is yet another layer of darkness and helps with any light coming around the edges.
  5. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    Yes blackout curtains don't do enough for me, because of the light at the top and other edges.

    Foil does work, it looks ugly from outside unless you put something else (so they aren't seeing the foil). I had a large double window completely blacked out with just using foil.

    I have also gotten the blackout "liners". They are supposed to go under normal curtains. Then I cut up the liners and taped them on the windows. But it can be tricky getting these or anything else to stay put. Foil actually stays well because it's so light.

    I believe those films they sell don't black out 100%. It could be a nice start, those plus something else. They seem expensive.

    Some people have done cardboard.
  6. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    I discovered some very thick bath towels in my closet a few weeks ago. Some of them are wider than my 4 bedroom windows. I hung them on rods with clips and I'm sleeping much better now.

    Madie
  7. Ocean

    Ocean Senior Member

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    Right now I have blinds plus two sets of dark curtains and some towels over the top part to keep the light from coming out there. The sun is still coming through! Maybe foil on top will help or maybe adding that film, but like you said SickofSickness, they do seem really pricey. Cardboard might be a good cheap thing to try out. Thanks all for the suggestions.
  8. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    I have blackout curtain linings which just clip onto the curtains, and they make a fair difference. I put velcro down the side of the window surround and onto the edges of the curtain linings, so that no light can get in down the sides.

    I also have a blackout blind, which unfortunately is about 5cm too short (tall window, not much choice when I was buying this). Between them, they get the room very dark. Unfortunately, the only affordable blind when I was buying it was an Ikea one with a cord that's much too short for the blind, so I have to stand on tiptoe and raise my arms above my head, and the other week this made me pass out. Admittedly I have 10' ceilings and am only 4'11 tall, but even so, I'd keep an eye on where the cord will come down to if you go for a blind.

    In the past, I've rolled up an old duvet cover into a sort of long sausage and pinned it just above the curtain rail to block the light coming over the top. It didn't really work, as it was too heavy and always sagged in the middle, looking very odd and blocking out very little light. In theory there must be something you can do, however. I've wondered about stapling some blackout fabric onto the top of the window surround, enough to hang down a bit past the curtain pole on the inside.

    I've probably mentioned this before, but I've found that while sleeping in a dark, quiet room is key, avoiding blue light in the three hours before bedtime is also essential if I want to be able to sleep. Look up darkness therapy if you're curious, I've got a website about all this called In Search of Mornings.
  9. Ocean

    Ocean Senior Member

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    That's funny Calathea, we do the velcro thing too. It really helps. I hadn't thought of blackout blinds. So between blackout blinds and blackout curtains it gets pretty dark it seems? Do you think just one or the other plus dark curtains would be enough or both are needed?

    Then the only other issue is block the light at the top which maybe I could just buy some cheap towels that match our curtains and stuff them up there. I wonder if that would do it.

    I agree with you about a dark quiet room. Now if only I could do something about the quiet part. That's my next thing to try to tackle. With dogs barking and constant construction even ear plugs and a very very loud fan aren't enough. It's been really rough trying to get sleep since living in the place we currently live in. We have a very quiet building which is wonderful but all the surrounding neighborhood noise is awful. I will definitely look at the site, thank you so much.
  10. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    I mentioned using both because you obviously need the room to be really really dark, otherwise you wouldn't be making all this fuss! Both blackout curtain linings and blackout blinds can be found online relatively cheaply these days. I still reckon that stapling a bit of blackout fabric to the top of the window surround would work fairly well, but if you can get towels to stay put without interfering with the curtains moving along, go for it.

    By the way, you mentioned that you don't get on with an eye mask. If it's at all borderline, it can be worth experimenting with different fabrics and styles, as sometimes you'll find you hate one but get on with another, and sometimes you get used to them.

    For the noise, I'd be careful with using ear plugs. If you have any tendency to tinnitus or hyperacusis (oversensitivity to noise), earplugs makes them worse. I was scolded for using them by the hearing therapist, who said sternly that they shouldn't be used unless the sound is so loud that it will physically damage your ears. I don't think either of us would last long on a construction site! (And can I just mention that they have FINALLY finished resurfacing the car park near my bedroom window? Three weeks of it, often for eight hours a day and sometimes so bad the window frame vibrated. I was going spare.) You can get white noise generators, often sold as tinnitus relaxers, and maybe there is a noise that will work better for you than the fan. You can also get models which plug into a special pillow, if you don't want to disturb a partner. It's the wrong country, but have a look at these for some ideas.
  11. Ember

    Ember Senior Member

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    I've used blackout curtains before, but what I've found to be far more effective is buying black fabric and doubling it to make a black curtain. I bought a remnant, so it was inexpensive. If I were worried about how it looked (which I'm not), I'd add a layer of decorative fabric for the inside or outside effect.

    I made the curtain large enough to amply cover the sides and bottom of the window, and it fits under the wooden window valance, leaving the room completely dark.
  12. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    I read this thread with interest as I too have an issue with the smallest amount of light coming into my room stopping me from being able to sleep. I need things to be pitch black.

    I cant even keep DVD player on so that time only shows or an electric clock in my room as the light from it bothers me when Im trying to sleep and can stop me from getting to sleep.

    I have both blinds and curtains on my window but it wasnt enough.. I also hung towels up but that didnt help either. I ended up buying a different kind of blind.. but the light coming from around the edges bothers me.

    I ended up trying MANY different kinds of night masks till i found one which I do personally find okay (thou even now very very very small amount of light can come in from near nose if I havent been extremely careful with how Ive fitted it on my face. That one I use now (Its Hibermate brand) is FAR better then the other types I tried and I recommend (it also comes with ear pads which one can have on it or off and wear them over ear plugs).

    As I still do have issues sleeping thou I cant see any light now due to this better mask so Im probably going to stick cardboard on my window. Ive read that a very small amount of light just getting to the skin can affect the sleep of some even if ones eyes cant notice it, due to how melatonin is produced and affected with light getting to skin. (Dr Myhill talks about that)

    Ive recently realised that I need to avoid the computer for AT LEAST 2 hrs (possibly 3 hrs) before going to bed... computer avoidance just an hour before I go to bed is no where near enough. (So I've banned myself from using the computer after midnight).
  13. Andrew

    Andrew Senior Member

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    I covered my windows with heavy aluminum foil. It's held in place with scotch tape. I don't have to look at the foil because blinds cover it. There is a slight amount of light leaking in at the edges, but it is so slight it doesn't light the room. It is nothing compared to the light that leaks in with blackout curtains. These are side-by-side windows. One of them slides. So when I open the window during the day, the light comes in. This is nice change for me during the day.

    There is another possibility, though. Someone suggested putting shutters on the interior. I don't know if these are a special kind of shutter. But I imagine this might work well.
  14. Ocean

    Ocean Senior Member

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    Thanks everyone for the ideas. I think I'll start with blackout curtains velcroed on the sides so no light gets in on the sides. And for the top I'll try something like towels or something to stuff on top. If that doesn't do it, then I'll look at the other ideas like cardboard, foil, and blackout blinds. I am in a rental and I'm not sure if there will be an issue with putting foil or cardboard up. Some places have issues with that kind of thing. Maybe I will start a thread on noise as well. I know that's an issue for many and I really have trouble with sleep because of how noisy my neighborhood is with construction.
  15. Ocean

    Ocean Senior Member

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    Update:
    I ended up buying these and using them under my regular curtains
    http://www.amazon.com/Thermal-Insulated-Blackout-Curtain-Set-BLACK/dp/B001A63XTS
    It works really well.

    We have some velcro up to help keep the light at the edges out but still need to add a bit more of it. But that does work.

    We are going to just use some dark throws on the top to keep the light out there. Right now we just have random things there, like sheets and towels.

    Next step is getting an a/c unit for our window because in the summer it gets too hot to sleep and sadly, a lot of times I am asleep in the day instead of night, when it's much hotter.

    So far though the darkness measures are helping a lot.
    I even put one of those things that cover up the gap between a door and the floor to keep out cold, and it helps keep the bright light from outside the bedroom from shining through.
  16. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    Yeah. I stick little pieces of electrical tape over those lights. Covering those tiny lights makes a real difference. Everyone shoule try it, if you care about your sleep quality.

    With computer usage, it helps your eyes to remove a lot of blue light from the monitor. At first everything looks too pink or even yellow but you adapt soon. They sell these amber yellow glasses for using at your monitor, but instead just change the color temp of your monitor. There is software to do it, or do it in your graphics card settings, or monitor settings. Especially for times when it's nearer to bedtime but you need to do something on the computer, then you really don't want blue. Usually monitors default to around 6000-6500K color temperature, very blue, and around 3500-4500K is good for evening use.

    Yeah foil looks ugly from the outside if you don't put some fabric or whatever. I also used garbage bags sometimes, the thicker black type. If a blanket or towel was not enough, I would double up. Sometimes you get some light coming through. If you stick velcro onto a window frame, that can be a pain to remove later. Some tapes would also leave sticky residue and be a pain.
  17. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    Personally I prefer using orange glasses in the evening. I do have f.lux installed on my computer, which makes the colours a bit warmer after nightfall, but it's only a minimal difference intended primarily for visual comfort. It's by no means enough to block all blue light and thus stop the blue light from suppressing your melatonin production. If you're serious about that, then either get an orange/amber filter to put over your computer screen in the evening and some yellow or orange light bulbs, or get a pair of glasses tinted orange or amber. Anything that's more of a brown tint will be orange + black, and while it tends to distort colours less than looking through plain orange, it also makes everything darker, so it depends on which you find more comfortable.

    Electrical tape is definitely the way to go for covering little lights, yep. You can buy it in an exciting variety of colours, so it won't look as obvious. The white tape doesn't block light very efficiently, so if I'm using it over something white or pale, I put down black tape to block the light and then white tape on top of that. I don't bother covering anything that emits orange or red light, as this won't affect melatonin production or sleep, but it does make it a bit easier to grope my way around the room in the dark when I need to get up for the toilet.
  18. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    Good to know! I wish I could find my amber glasses.

    Hm. So everyone likes blue now for their digital clocks, but the traditional old orange/red would be better.

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