Don’t you love it when your room is dark to sleep in? I mean reaaaaallly dark?
I don’t know what it is, but it just makes falling asleep so much easier.
It’s probably no surprise, but the same is true for the little ones in your family. As a new mom, I tried all kinds of blackout options for my baby’s room. After the newborn stage, I quickly learned that unless I wanted to be up with the sun, babies need total darkness to sleep well. And let me tell you, I was happy to pay for something if it meant we would all get a better sleep.
The thing is, even though we had “blackout” blinds installed when we bought our home, light was still getting in between the blind and the window frame. It was fine for us as adults, but it wasn’t dark enough for our kids. It wasn’t until I got my certification as a Sleep Consultant that I truly understood the affects of light and sleep, and what it does to your brain and body.
So mom to mom, let me share some of the wisdom I’ve learned over years of not getting enough sleep (when it turns out the solutions were quite simple!), and what I’ve learned coming out the other side.
Light Communicates with Your Brain
Light (or darkness, really) is actually the most important external factor is successful sleep. Light is what tells your brain that it’s time to be awake. This is great for the most part, as it makes sense that you’re awake during light hours, and asleep during dark hours. The trouble comes when the sun rises really early in the morning (like all summer long, for example) and peeks in through your windows.
Pro Tip: There are other sources of light affecting your child’s sleep that can be really sneaky. Think lights on the monitor camera, sound machine, or coming in under the door. Put tape over the electronics, and a towel or fitted sheet under/around the door to block any additional light coming in.
You’ve probably heard me talk about Circadian Rhythm before. This is your body’s internal clock to know when it’s time to be awake or asleep. Light is a key factor in setting (or resetting) that in your body. If you’ve ever experienced jet lag, that’s an example of when your body needs to reset its Circadian Rhythm. The same is often true when you bring your new baby home. They’ve just spent the last 9 months in total darkness, and are now learning about (more or less) sleeping in the night vs the day. When your child’s brain senses light, it recognizes it as time to be awake, and then signals to the rest of the body that it’s time to get up. We all go through 4-6 sleep cycles per night, and light exposure can prevent a seamless transition from one to another, resulting in interrupted sleep, repeated awakenings, and less time spent in that deep, restorative sleep. No thanks!
The Real MVP
Okay, so now that I’ve got the technical stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the good stuff – the solutions! You know I wouldn’t leave you hanging with all the doom and gloom without showing you a way out, right?
I feel a little silly sharing this, but I’ve actually tried about 5 different blackout blinds off Amazon. Ones that claimed to be the solution to my child’s early wakings, that they wouldn’t damage my windows or walls, and that they were totally room darkening. Remember how I said I bought 5? Yea, because NONE of them lived up to expectations. Claims of being “total blackout” were more like sheer when they arrived. Oh the money and hope I wasted on those…
Suffice is to say I’ve tried a lot of the options out there, and I’m very picky about my blackout blinds. It just has to work, right?
Well, I have a new favourite blackout blind, and I’m excited to share it with you! For a lot of reasons, this has become my new go-to. For one, it’s affordable. I was always shocked at the cost of blackout blinds (only to leave me disappointed), so to find one that actually does what it claims and won’t take your last dollar is worth its weight in gold. These are high quality, hotel-grade curtains that have strong suction cups that adhere to any type of window.
What are these beauties? They’re called Sleepout, and they’re the greatest. They pack up nice and small, so they’re great for carry on travel, you can open them to actually see the sun or let in fresh air when you’re not using them. They still function like regular curtains, while totally pulling their weight to keep the light out while your child sleeps. Plus the suction cups means no heavy installation, and no damage to your home. Yes, and YES!
My other secret? I have a discount code for you all! Nothing like supporting a Canadian company, getting an amazing product, and keeping a little jangle in your jeans, right? Save 10% when you use the code WHOLENIGHT10 at checkout. I’ll receive a little kick back for it, but I’d be telling you about these for free if I had to!
When You’re Away From Home
Sleepout has been a total lifesaver at home, but they’re also great for travel! This will prevent those all too early wake ups in hotels or while visiting your in-laws. Let’s just say everyone around you will be grateful that you have them…
But my other travel must-have is the famous SlumberPod. It is my #1 travel sleep must have. It’s a blackout option that works incredibly well. But the SlumberPod also creates an individual space for your child to sleep. We’re talking total seclusion and total darkness – just like at home. These are incredibly helpful if your kids are sharing a room on the road (and aren’t used to that!), as it creates their individual space. They also remove the need to be creeping around the hotel room after 7:30 with the lights off, trying not to disturb your little one. They’re in their own dome of sound and darkness, meaning you can still order pizza and watch tv in the same room as your kiddo.
You know I’ve got a discount for that too! Save $20 on a Slumberpod with code WHOLENIGHTSLEEP$20
In case you couldn’t tell, darkness is SO important to a good night’s rest, and is something worth ensuring you’ve got covered. Have you ever tried the Slumberpod or Sleep Out? I’d love to hear your experience!