Expert Advice

I Installed Blackout Shades in My Bedroom to Help Me Sleep, and It Worked! Here’s How

Two words: Game changer.

By Camille Styles
Camille Styles cozy neutral bedroom makeover in Austin

I have a confession to make: I’m obsessed with sleep. But it wasn’t always this way. After sleeping sound for most of my life—yes, as soon as my head hit the pillow, it was sweet dreams—I experienced a bout of insomnia when my second child was five months old. It was incredibly frustrating to see my baby sleeping through the night while I stared at the ceiling wide awake at 2 AM. Not surprisingly, bouts of anxiety accompanied this sleepless period which resulted in a cycle of worry that, you guessed it, only made the insomnia worse. Let’s just say, I was feeling dull, anxious, and depressed, not to mention desperate for solutions to replace my restless nights with the restful slumbers I once took for granted. So, in my quest for answers I embarked on a wellness mission, talking to anyone and everyone about sleep, reading books, listening to podcasts, and yes, seeing my doctor. You can read all about some of the things I did to get a good night’s sleep, but there was one that was a total game-changer for me. So, let’s talk about the many benefits of blackout shades.

I was already embarking on a complete bedroom makeover and blackout shades were at the top of my list, and little did I know that adding the motorized option would become one of my favorite parts of our bedroom. With the push of a button, I can make the bedroom totally dark for sleep, and flooded with light in the morning. As you know, I worked closely with the Graber team for my #CasaCamille reno and they really helped me nail the window treatments throughout our house. I never thought to seek out custom blinds or drapes before now, but consider me converted. Their online “visualizer” lets you try out the window treatments in your own space virtually while their IRL expert walks you through the process from start to finish—it’s such a smooth process and I couldn’t be happier with the end result. But let’s get to the best part: my custom motorized blackout shades.

benefits of blackout curtains

So, why blackout shades? I hear you ask

Well, the primary function of blackout shades is to block out light. If you struggle with sleep, science says creating a dark room is critical to securing those elusive Z’s. Light is the most important external factor affecting readiness for sleep. Unfortunately, our circadian rhythm which controls our natural sleep-wake cycle—it cues to feel awake during the day and sleepy at night—is being thrown off thanks to the abundance of backlit screens, electronics, and other light pollution in our lives.

According to the Sleep Foundation, darkness signals the pineal gland to produce melatonin—a serotonin-derived hormone that promotes sleepiness. So naturally, any exposure to light will block the production of melatonin which explains why being on your phone before bed or during sleep interferes with your sleep-wake cycle—yes, it’s time to ditch that bad habit. And the motorized function makes it incredibly easy to keep this light-dark cycle totally consistent. I love to know that at the push of a button, I can block out or let the sunshine in.

From a design perspective, our three made-to-order roller shades fit perfectly into the unique three-paneled bay window in our bedroom. Since Graber’s custom fabric is offered in different opacities—from sheer to blackout—we were able to choose a truly room darkening option for these. There’s a streamlined white valance (the little box that holds the roller) that virtually disappears during the day, and then at night, we get the full blackout effect without closing off our cozy little nook to the rest of the room. Of course, the cherry on top is that these shades incorporate Graber’s motorized functionality. We have it connected to an app on our phone, and programmed so that when it’s time for lights off, the shades slowly lower automatically.

They limit distractions…

Blackout shades not only block out light, they can limit any distractions that might cause you to wake up, too. If you’re anything like me, a pin drop could make you stir in your sleep. And this has only gotten worse since having children—I hear everything! It’s a blessing and a curse. Blackout shades have significantly reduced or removed any distractions both visual and audio including ambient light, headlights, street lights, or if you live in big cities, police choppers! I’ve found that blackout shades help me to fall asleep faster and for longer.

benefits of blackout curtains

They also reduce noise pollution

Why is this important? Well, research into the impact of environmental noise on sleep found it to be a significant cause of sleep disturbances. Thanks to their dense fabrication, blackout shades help to dampen noise to create a serene space that’s optimal for sleep. This is worth considering if you live in urban areas, densely populated neighborhoods, or cities with higher transportation noise. Or, if you’re a parent like me, having a calm sanctuary to retreat to is critical.

They can help to moderate temperature fluctuations, too

Not only are blackout shades great at limiting the light that enters my bedroom, but they also provide insulation. Even if it’s 92° outside (or triple digits which is often the case during a Texan summer), we won’t feel it inside. As most of you already know, windows are one of the main culprits of heat and air conditioning loss at home. If energy efficiency is important to you, consider Graber’s blackout cellular shades which would reduce this loss, not to mention your energy bill!

In closing…

With the ability to block light and noise, and control my bedroom’s temperature, ultimately I have more control over my sleeping environment. And I’m happy to say that since the install, my good sleep has returned, the anxiety is gone, and I’m back to waking up feeling happy, rested, and ready to take on the world. And that, in my opinion, is worth every penny.