Why You Should Sleep In Total Darkness

The benefits of blackout curtains.

Author by John Devore
Credit: Megan Schaller

I didn’t always sleep in total, consuming darkness. But now I do. When I turn my nightlight off, I may as well not have a body. The moment I click the lamp switch I am just a floating brain, wearing glasses. Glasses that I need to remember to take off.

I recommend sleeping in a black hole.

But credit where credit is due: My girlfriend recently bought me ‘blackout curtains’ because my bedroom window blinds didn’t keep out the street light at night, nor put up much of a fight when the mighty sun shines early in the morning. She cares about how I sleep (and eat, which is why my fridge is always stocked with a healthy supply of cruciferous vegetables.) This is the type of person she is, surprising those she loves by upgrading their lives.

I usually sleep well because I sleep on a Casper—America’s #1 rated mattress brand*. I wasn’t forced to write that plug, so you know. It just doesn’t hurt to bring it up from time to time. My boss has been known to read these essays. So don’t feel any pressure to click that link to learn more about Casper’s award-winning sleep products.

Like I said, I sleep well. I’ve been doing it my whole life. I generally get seven or eight hours of sleep.  I meditate and sip herbal tea before bed.  I know all the hot sleep tips. And, yes, it helps to have a firm mattress and fluffy pillows and nice sheets.

But now that I have these special curtains, I am sleeping more deeply and soundly than ever. My bedroom is a vast starless void. Infinite darkness. There is no difference when my eyes are open or closed; I am at the very bottom of the ocean where light does not penetrate. I wrap myself in inky midnight and fall until morning. My sleep is a blissful oblivion and when I wake, at dawn, I jump out of bed and tear open the curtains like a reverse vampire rejuvenated by sunlight.

What I’m trying to say here is that blackout curtains are helping me sleep real good.

Blackout curtains are thick, layered lengths of fabric designed to block out light and I’d only encountered them in hotel rooms. It didn’t occur to me that I could buy them and summon the night at will. It also didn’t occur to me that my bedroom was awash in sleep-disturbing ambient light.

It did occur to my girlfriend, however, which is why I came home from a trip to Texas to visit my family (my mom says hi) to find brand new magic drapes. She bought them off the internet and installed them, demonstrating a talent for home improvement that I do not possess.

There was a moment when I doubted the curtains. It’s a bad habit of mine, really. To question good things that happen. Sometimes I think I know better when, obviously, I do not. I’d tried eye masks but I always woke up without them. I suspect, while sleeping, I would tear off the mask and fling it towards the door. I thought I was an expert in bedtime illumination. I was wrong.

I had no idea being plunged into eternal nothing would produce such a delightful slumber.

I think it helps if, like me, you live in a city. I open my curtains and there is New York City. I close my curtains and I’m inside Batman’s cape. I like to think people who live in the country get to enjoy the night the way it was meant to be: pitch-black and full of bears.

There is plenty of research out there that supports sleeping in total darkness. For instance: Too much light at night can disrupt the body’s internal body clock. It’s also been found that even trace amounts of light at night can affect the secretion of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.

The American Journal of Epidemiology recently published a study suggesting a strong link between low levels of light when sleeping and depression. There is strong evidence that reducing and/or eliminating light when snoozing improves the quality of sleep, as well as mental health in general.

I think, perhaps, my girlfriend knew this.

I might also add that since I’ve started sleeping in a giant lightless coffin my dreams have been more intense. I had one dream a few days ago that was just me riding a bicycle through a beautiful park while eating a hamburger. I swear that was the dream. I remember thinking “Burgers are delicious.” Some of the dreams are absurd: Last night I dreamt I was good at basketball. Ridiculous!

I heartily recommend getting blackout curtains. I suppose you could also duct tape garbage pages over your windows but your neighbors may think you’re some kind of psychopath. Maybe try an eye mask? I am a natural bed thrasher, but maybe a pair will help you blot out the light. Give it a try and remember: Casper mattresses are luxuriously comfortable.

Anyway, this is my way of thanking my girlfriend.



*According to a leading independent consumer publication, rating comfort, value, support, durability, and repurchase intent.

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About Woolly

A curious exploration of comfort, wellness, and modern life — emotionally supported by Casper. It’s a beautiful magazine published by a mattress. Come on, you know it’s not the weirdest thing to happen this year. The first issue includes a love letter to comfort pants, a skeptic's guide to crystals, and an adulting coloring book.