Blackout curtains — 5 reasons to buy and 4 to skip

 A hand pinching blackout curtains
A hand pinching blackout curtains

We all want huge windows and light airy homes, but when it comes to bedtime, light will not help you sleep. For some people, too much light might simply mean it takes a little longer to drift into a slumber, but for others, a light bedroom can cause disturbed sleep all night long.

If you’ve already tried upgrading to the best mattress and your pillows are on point, but you’re still struggling to get a decent night's sleep, perhaps it’s time to go beyond your bed and think about the environment in your bedroom. Temperature and light are two factors that can really impact your sleep and one of the best ways to make a room darker is with blackout curtains.

There are numerous benefits to blackout curtains that go beyond creating a dark room for sleep. But they’re not for everyone, so read on to find out the reasons why you should or shouldn’t make the upgrade.

For further advice, read what to do when you can’t sleep or check out the best sleep apps.

Reasons to buy blackout curtains

A woman sleeping in a bed
A woman sleeping in a bed

1. Sleep Quality

It’ll come as no surprise that this is top of the list. Sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining mental and physical health and it’s important that we prioritize creating the most optimum sleep environment.

Most people not only fall asleep easier, but enjoy a better quality of sleep in a dark room. According to excess light exposure can throw off your sleep and circadian rhythm. Blackout curtains provide an easy solution and can stop light interfering with your sleep.

2. Babies and children

Because babies and small children sleep or take naps during the day, it can be really helpful to upgrade their bedrooms to blackout curtains. This is especially true if their sleep is easily disturbed or if the sun hits their bedroom window during nap time.

For children that don’t nap in the daytime, they may still go to bed before it gets fully dark. And blackout curtains will block out any remaining daylight as they drift off to sleep.

3. Shift work

If you work at night and need to sleep during the day, blackout curtains are an absolute must. They might not stop the delivery guy banging on your door, or your neighbor cutting their hedge. But, blackout curtains are one of the few things you can invest in to make it easier to sleep during the day.

The top of a pair of blackout curtains while shut
The top of a pair of blackout curtains while shut

4. Darkness

As mentioned above, sleeping in darkness can aid your quality of sleep, but that’s not the only reason you might want to block out the light. For example, if you’ve got a movie room with a projector, you’ll be able to enjoy a better quality image as well as more realistic movie theater experience in the dark.

Many migraine sufferers need to lay down in a darkened room when a migraine takes hold and blackout curtains could for sure help here. Or, if you live in a city or near a busy road, blackout curtains can block out car lights, or fluorescent light from signs. All of these can be unpleasant if they’re shining directly into your living space, regardless of whether you’re trying to sleep or not.

5. Temperature regulation

While they aren’t the same as thermal drapes, blackout curtains are thicker and heavier than standard curtains. This means they will naturally insulate a room when closed. If you’ve got old or drafty windows, you’re likely to notice the difference.

On the flip side, they can keep the sun from heating up a room on particularly hot days. Closing out the sun with blackout curtains could drastically reduce how much a room heats up, especially if you have a lot of glazing. This will then save money on cooling appliances.

Reasons to avoid blackout curtains

A thick rail holding up curtains
A thick rail holding up curtains

1. Space and weight

By their very nature, blackout curtains are thicker and heavier than standard curtains. So not only do you need a strong curtain rod that’s securely fixed to the wall, but you need adequate space on either side of the window for the curtains to hang nicely when they’re open. And in some rooms where space is tight, this might not work. In this case you could look at blackout blinds instead. Read our guide on blinds vs curtains.

2. Cost

While the benefits are numerous, the upfront cost of blackout curtains is higher than standard curtains. So if you’re on a tight budget, it might be hard to justify the upgrade.

A garment steamer being used to clean curtains
A garment steamer being used to clean curtains

3. Cleaning

Many brands of blackout curtains are not suitable for washing in your washing machine, which can make cleaning them tricky. If you like to throw your curtains in the washer frequently, then you may be put off by curtains that can only be spot cleaned by hand, or soaked in the bathtub for a deeper clean. If you shop around though, you should be able to buy blackout curtains that can be machine-washed — depending on the color and size you’re looking for.

4. Trouble waking up

Waking up in the dark isn’t always easy. Blackout curtains mean you won’t be naturally woken by the morning light, and for some people this is tough. You’ll have to weigh up the pros and cons and figure out whether a better overall night's sleep is worth the difficulty in waking up. You could also combat the problem by investing in a sunrise alarm clock.

It might be helpful to read I tried using this sunrise alarm for one month - here’s what it did for my sleep or 6 ways to make it easier to get out of bed when it’s still dark out.

If you’re still unsure whether blackout curtains are right for you, you could try blocking your bedroom window with a thick blanket for a few nights to see if it has any impact on your sleep. Or next time you’re in a hotel with blackout curtains, pay attention to whether you sleep better.

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