I often get asked how dark a nursery or child’s bedroom needs to be for naps and overnight…
I’m a big fan of a dark room for a couple of reasons:
1. When a room is more light during the day at nap time, it’s pretty distracting. Light is naturally stimulating, so best to keep that to a minimum. Most kids’ rooms have books and toys, maybe a train table, etc. and seeing those around can be enough to keep your little one up. The goal is to encourage a calm and stimulus-free environment.
2. With the Daylight Savings, it will still be light out at bedtime and be brighter earlier in the morning. To help settle your child at night, it’s important to create a dark environment which will encourage the natural melatonin production to make your child sleepy. And with the bright mornings, seeing light too early will jump start the cortisol production and reset the body to start waking up earlier. With the birds. You don’t want that!
So to help you create this optimal sleep environment, here are some tips to consider:
There are so many options to cover windows! My favorite are the blackout honeycomb shades because they also help to insulate–keeping it cooler in the summer (if you keep them down during the day!) and trapping the heat in during the winter. Be sure to have them inside-mounted (to help with perimeter light). And if you have two connected windows, consider getting one large shade to eliminate that line of light down the middle.
I have yet to see a set of black out curtains that can be used without a shade underneath, and still make it super dark. (If you’ve found one that works, let me know!) Most windows will require the shade to blackout the light and curtain panels to address the perimeter. This is especially important if your child’s bed or crib is on the same wall as the window and you have the shades mounted on the outside of the frame…light will shine in your child’s eyes every morning!
If you’re still feeding your child in the middle of the night, or your child sometimes uses the bathroom after bedtime or early in the morning, you may want a nightlight in the room. My advice is to get a low wattage bulb and diffuse the light by putting it behind a piece of furniture. You don’t want bright light shining into your child’s eyes when she’s trying to fall asleep!
I just finished working with two families that interestingly had glass doors on their child’s bedroom door. If you happen to have a similar situation, I would recommend finding some blinds or shades that are fixed at the bottom and top, so it doesn’t swish when you open and close the door!
Have you found a great product that helps with room darkening? Please let me know in the comments–I would love to hear from you!