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What to Know About Blackout Curtains: Benefits, Uses, and More

Aug 20, 2023Aug 20, 2023

A quality night’s sleep leaves you feeling energized, refreshed, and prepared to take on your day. But many people struggle to get enough sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 70 million Americans experience chronic sleep issues. If you suffer from sleep deprivation or a disorder like insomnia, you can use blackout curtains to get a better night’s rest.

Many people install blackout curtains in their bedrooms or other sleep spaces. This simple fabric can drastically improve the length and quality of your sleep, but it does have one potential downside. Discover the purpose and pros and cons of blackout curtains.

Blackout curtains are fabric drapes or shades that cover your windows. They block out sunlight and artificial light from passing cars, streetlights, and other sources. These shades can provide an extra layer of protection over blinds, which tend to have gaps that allow light to leak through.

With blackout curtains, you can sleep in near-total darkness any time of the day or night, even if you live in an urban area with light pollution.

Many people use blackout curtains in their sleeping areas to reduce exposure to morning sunlight and other light sources. The human body produces melatonin in the dark. This naturally occurring hormone helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythms, or natural sleep-wake cycle. Blackout curtains prevent light from disrupting the creation of melatonin, allowing you to fall asleep faster and keep snoozing longer.

Across the globe, many people use blackout curtains to aid sleep. A survey of Norwegian adults found that 63.3% of respondents use blackout curtains. People aged 30 or younger use blackout curtains the most, with usage declining slightly among older populations.

Blackout curtains are an affordable and simple way to improve your sleep and overall health. Blackout curtain benefits include:

By improving the duration and quality of your sleep, blackout curtains can also enhance your overall health. Sleep affects every system in your body, including your cardiovascular, digestive, and nervous systems. Getting adequate rest reduces your risk of developing chronic health conditions associated with sleep insufficiency, like:

Blackout curtains can prevent these disorders and injuries by helping you consistently get a good night’s risk.

Blackout curtains have few health disadvantages. However, manufacturers may produce blackout curtains or roller blinds using polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This material has phthalates, chemicals that can enter and damage the human body through air particles, direct contact, and other methods.

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) warns that exposure to PVC poses many risks for humans and the environment, like:

The CHEJ recommends purchasing blackout curtains, drapes, and other window furnishings made from fabric instead of PVC to avoid these issues.

How do you know if blackout curtains would help you? While everyone can benefit from less light exposure during sleep, blackout curtains are most valuable for people with sleep deficiencies and disorders.

Generally, most adults require seven to nine hours of sleep daily. Younger people require more sleep to support their development and growth. For example, a newborn should sleep 14 to 17 hours a day, and teenagers need eight to 10 hours.

If you don’t regularly receive the recommended sleep for your age bracket, you may have a sleep deficiency. This lack of sleep can cause symptoms like:

Sleep deprivation builds up over time and can lead to more severe symptoms, including:

Blackout curtains can help you get more sleep and reduce or eliminate symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation.

Blackout curtains can improve your sleep by reducing light exposure, but they may not fully solve sleep deficiencies and disorders. Other strategies that you can use to boost your sleep hygiene include:

Using blackout curtains and other sleep hygiene methods can help you experience deeper, longer, and more refreshing sleep. Sleep has a significant effect on every aspect of your health, so it’s worth investing in a few tools that will make your bedtime pleasant and productive.

SOURCES: American Journal of Human Biology: “Light pollution and insufficient sleep: Evidence from the United States.”Center for Health, Environment and Justice: “Pass UP the Poison Plastic.”Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “About Our Program - Sleep and Sleep Disorders," “Phthalates Factsheet," “Tips for Better Sleep.”Cleveland Clinic: “Sleep Deprivation," “Why Light at Night Can Interfere With Your Sleep.”Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Sleep.”Journal of Psychiatric Research: “Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial.”National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Melatonin: What You Need To Know.”National Sleep Foundation: “How to Make a Sleep-Friendly Bedroom.”Sleep Foundation: “Sleep Deprivation.”Sleep Medicine: “Age and sex differences in bedroom habits and bedroom preferences," “Effects of acute sleep deprivation on state anxiety levels: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension: “Using curtains to reduce greenhouse heating and cooling costs.”