Knit Blog

When your child is struggling with poor sleep, light is usually one of the biggest culprits. If your child is like most kids, then the light from technology, like smartphones and games, is one of the biggest triggers that’s telling your child’s brain to stay awake. However, if your child has a hard time falling asleep in the evening, don’t underestimate the power of outdoor light. Sunlight is the natural signal to tell your child to go to sleep and to wake up, and unless your schedule coincides perfectly with the sun year-round, then sunlight could be the reason your child is staying up late. Outdoor light from streetlights could also be shining in your child’s window. When you fully block the light from outside, you can control how much light reaches your child’s eyes - at night and in the morning.

Method #1: Curtains

If your child isn’t too sensitive to light, then regular curtains could be all you need. But for a child whose sleep is easily disturbed, regular curtains are little more than decoration. They block some light, but not all, and they’re designed more to make the room look pretty than to block light. They usually have only one layer of fabric, without a liner, so they’re designed to let light in. Their purpose isn’t to block light, but to provide privacy and to decorate the room. They’re great for that purpose, but if you want your child to sleep past sunrise, you’ll need something more effective.

Light blocking: poor.

Method #2 Drapes

Drapes are different from curtains in that they’re thicker and double-layered. This also means they’re heavier, and they can look bulky and formal compared to curtains. However, the two layers means they block light better. The best types for blocking light also have a blackout layer, which is a particular fabric designed to block all light from passing through. Drapes can also have a thermal layer designed to help insulate, which can save your energy bills and help regulate the temperature in your child’s room.

Light blocking: good.

Method #3 Blackout Fabric

For the best fabric solution for blocking light, get drapes with a layer of blackout fabric. Usually made of polyester, this layer is designed to block all light from passing through, and it works like a charm. However, it’s not as decorative as curtains, since it’s not available in as many colors or patterns. If the decor of your window dressing is important to you, consider combining a blackout layer with a decorative curtain layer for a pretty and functional solution. For total blackout, choose a drape that will fully cover the entire window area, floor to ceiling and side to side, so there’s no space for light to come in around the edges of the drape.

Light blocking: excellent.

Method #4 Shades

Most shades, like curtains, are not designed to block all light from passing through. They come in a variety of colors and thicknesses, and normal shades usually block about 95% of light. If you want to be able to see in the room at night, or if your child isn’t especially sensitive to light, this works fine, but if you’re looking for a fully room darkening solution, this isn’t it. In addition to the light that filters through the fabric, shades always allow light to come in around the edges, since they don’t fully cover the window.

Light blocking: poor

Method #5 Blackout shades

Like blackout curtains, blackout shades are designed to block all light, allowing nothing through and creating a room that’s totally dark. However, just like regular shades, blackout shades don’t fully cover the window. They have cracks around the sides where the shade doesn’t cover, so they’ll still allow light through around the edges.

Light blocking: good.

Method #6 Blinds

Standard blinds don’t block all the light; they allow some light to come in even through the material. Light-colored vinyl blinds are the worst offenders, followed by aluminum, which blocks better, and wood, which does an even better job. However, all blinds have openings in the slats, where light can seep through, as well as a hole for the string you use to open and close them, which can also allow light.

Finally, blinds are often adjusted with a string, which can be a choking hazard for children. If you’re looking for a full light blocking solution, consider pairing blinds with another method such as a curtain. If you do use blinds, choose some with a wider slat, since fewer spaces between slats will mean less light gets through the window.

Light blocking: poor.

Method #7 Shutters

Shutters, like blinds, are made of slats that do allow light to filter between cracks. However, since shutters are made of solid materials like wood or composite, they block light better than thin fabrics. In addition, because shutters are designed to fit snugly into the window box, they have less space around them than blinds, which hang from the top of the window. When fully closed, shutters will block most of the light, but light can still filter through the cracks.

Light blocking: good.

Analysis

Which option is the best? The truth is that almost no single method will effectively block all the light, and depending on your exact situation, some options may be better than others. For example, if your child is sensitive to dust or allergens, be aware that any type of fabric can harbor these. You’ll need to choose washable curtains and plan to wash them frequently - at least once a week is ideal.

Another consideration is that wooden options such as blinds and shutters can be very effective at blocking light when new, but wood can warp over time, especially if it’s continually exposed to light. So if your windows are in direct sunlight, the wood may warp, and eventually the slats won’t be able to close fully. The ability of wooden solutions to block light may lessen over time.

If your budget or room decor only allow for one option, your best choice is probably blackout curtains. However, if you need a solution that truly blocks all the light from coming in, consider choosing at least two of these methods and combinining them. If your budget allows for it, shutters with blackout curtains should be able to effectively prevent any outside sunlight from making it to your child’s sensitve, sleepy eyes.