All the experts agree: Sleeplessness has profound effects on mood, productivity and overall health. Lack of adequate sleep is linked to serious problems like anxiety, poor concentration, diabetes and heart disease. At the very least, sleep deprivation could result in unwanted weight gain.
Significant effects occur in the brain, which has several important jobs to do while you sleep. The brain stores memories. It sorts through everything that’s on your mind and prioritizes certain information. If you’re sleeping soundly, you can count on your brain to remind you in the morning that you have a dental appointment.
Sleeping well could be as simple as changing your sleep environment.
How Light Affects Sleep
People, animals and even insects function according to light and darkness. An internal clock, known scientifically as circadian rhythm, regulates sleeping and waking. It is so integral to our makeup that jet lag or daylight saving time can take days to adjust to. People who work graveyard shifts face even greater sleep challenges.
Circadian rhythm also influences the release of sleep-related hormones, namely melatonin. Melatonin causes drowsiness and induces sleep. Since it is only produced in the dark, nighttime exposure to streetlights, TVs, computer monitors and other sources of artificial light disrupt production and keep people awake.
If you want your internal clock to keep perfect time, you need to control light during sleeping hours. The right curtains could make all the difference.
How Temperature Affects Sleep
Maintaining a comfortable temperature is crucial to getting plenty of shuteye. If you’re either sweating or shivering in bed, you’re bound to toss and turn or wake up far too early.
An important stage of sleep that occurs in intervals throughout the night is rapid eye movement sleep. People dream vividly during this time. Breathing and heart rate are slightly elevated. If you truly slept like a baby, you’d spend about 50 percent of the night in REM sleep. Around 20 percent is more common in adults.
REM sleep is the most restorative stage, and it’s directly impacted by temperature. Experts recommend keeping your bedroom environment somewhere between 60 and 67 F. Thermal curtains will help keep the temperature constant by preventing the transfer of hot or cold air through the window.
Controlling Your Sleep Environment With Blackout Curtains
Does a streetlight, flashing neon sign or drafty window keep you up at night? If you’re cursing those sheep that you’re supposed to be counting, consider getting thermal blackout curtains.
Well-made curtains do double duty against light and temperature fluctuations. Quality products block up to 99 percent of light. They are designed to cut down on drafts, retain heat in cold conditions and repel heat in hot climates. A special vapor barrier prevents condensation from settling on bedroom surfaces, particularly your skin.
A lower energy bill and significant noise reduction are additional perks. Light-blocking curtains are also ideal if you’re worried about furniture, rugs or artwork fading in strong sunlight.
What to Look For
The first generation of thermal curtains has undergone several improvements.
For one thing, modern blackout curtains don’t necessarily need to be custom ordered through a drapery shop. Affordable, ready-made products are widely available direct from a variety of manufacturers such as Deconovo.
Secondly, if you’re thinking of heavy, jet-black, oppressive drapes, you’re in for a surprise. Light-blocking curtains are a lot better-looking than they used to be. You can find patterns, textures and colors — even stark white — to suit any décor ranging from traditional to modern. There are even styles for kids’ rooms. For parents of hyperactive toddlers, especially in summer months, these curtains are a godsend.
Nowadays, you’ll have no difficulty finding thermal curtains that do not attract allergens and many brands are machine-washable.
Look for curtains made with three layers. Any fabric that you like is fine for the layer facing the room. The middle layer is typically made of foam or flannel. It acts as a thermal and vapor barrier that regulates temperature. The layer that hangs next to the window should be densely woven and light-reflecting.
The days of taping tinfoil over the windows or paying an arm and a leg for blackout curtains are long gone. For a very reasonable investment, you can honestly say, “I’ll sleep on it.”
Author: Cheska Martin – A motivational speaker, an aspiring poet and obsessive pinner in Las Vegas. She loves decorating, finding the best eats (and drinks) in her new neighborhood, and very enthusiastic with home interior designing and improvements.