Black is a Happy Colour

The word “blackout” is thrown around all the time. Blackout blind, blackout curtains, blackout the room. Sleep Consultants recommend for the room your child sleeps in to be blacked out. But what does blackout actually mean? To me, blackout means that when you stand in your child’s room and your eyes have adjusted, you CANNOT see your hand if held 1 foot in front of your face. If you can, well, the room is not blacked out.

Babies are not scared of the dark. They spent their antenatal time in darkness so it isn’t something they haven’t encountered before. For us to sleep, our bodies need melatonin which also regulates our body temperature rhythm. A surge of melatonin is triggered by reduced light and is released 30 minutes before we begin to feel sleepy. Blue light (emitted by phones, baby monitors and tablet computers for example) supresses melatonin and therefore reduces our “tired” feelings. At bedtime, try to use a red or orange light to encourage your child’s melatonin to surge. The darker a room is, the more your child’s internal drive to sleep will occur.

Let’s think about how to actually block light from entering a room. So many curtain and blind labels are advertised as blockout. Don’t confuse this for blackout. Most curtains and blinds do not block all light. And even if you find a mystical curtain that claims to block all light, what about the light that comes through around the curtain or past the curtain rod?

There are companies out there that build blockout blinds to fit your windows – these are expensive but usually well built. If you are renting, talk with the company about how they are installed and can be removed if the time comes that you need to move. The benefit of these is they can be built so they will easily open and close and you can therefore open the window for fresh air when your child is awake.

Other options people try are taping foil to the window (warning – the foil can stick to the window), taping cardboard boxes to the windows, car windscreen shades taped to the windows…you name it, it’s been tried.

You can block out the light from around a door by adding some dense foam to fill the gap between the door and the frame, use a draft stopper for under the door (make sure it fits your door well) or use a towel and push it up against the bottom of the door.You need to choose a method that suits you and your home. What suits your friend may not suit you and there may be a bit of trial and error.

A black room promotes sleep which makes me happy. Black is my happy colour.