A ray of golden sunshine can make your day — unless it’s shining in your face while you’re trying to get some much-needed sleep, of course. It not only bathes the room in unwanted light, it can also heat the space to an uncomfortable temperature.
Then there’s that annoying hallway light all your roommates insist on keeping on (or constantly turn off and on) to safely navigate the apartment at night. It can be a tiny innocuous nightlight or a low-wattage lamp, but even the best bedroom door typically leaks in light on its sides or at the top and bottom.
While there are lots of ways light can get into your bedroom and throw off your sleeping pattern, there are also lots of ways to keep it out. Here are a few of our favorite:
Solving this problem is fairly easy and inexpensive, although it won’t win any points for chic décor. Start by buying two cheap wall hooks (the type you’d use to hang keys). Attach them about two inches above and on either side of the bedroom door. Then dig out your oldest, darkest blanket or spread and cut two holes in it to match the placement of the hooks. Leave a good deal of overhang at the bottom so you can secure it with a storage bin or basket and successfully block out all the light.
Blacking Out Window Light
Window treatment stores sell blackout roman shades and stationary curtain panels that completely block outside light from entering rooms. However, these are somewhat pricey, especially if you’re renting and don’t want to invest in an upgrade typically used only by homeowners. Your landlord may also be opposed to such a major transformation.
Luckily, there’s a much more cost-effective alternative that works just as well. Go to a local fabric store armed with the dimensions of the windows you want to block. Ask for blackout fabric, which can be as inexpensive as $5 a yard. Choose a material that’s heavy so it can mute outside noise as well as light. Be sure the length will allow for the fold on the top that will hold the fabric to the rod and reach well beyond the bottom of the window.
Next, buy a simple curtain rod that extends the width of the window by a couple of inches on either side. Use a heavy-duty staple gun — not an office stapler — to attach the fabric to the rod. If you have a sewing machine, this step is even easier. After the cloth is attached to the rod, roll the fabric up and secure it with a heavy string or cord so you can easily manipulate it up and down to meet your needs.
Again, this won’t add any panache to your room, but it will allow you to sleep in a totally dark space, unencumbered by outside light.
If it’s just bright light that impedes your sleep, you may only need to curtail the intensity to a point where your ability to fall asleep and stay that way isn’t compromised. This process is a bit easier, more affordable, and may actually enhance the ambiance of the room rather than take away from it.
Privacy film darkens windows to obstruct light, but it doesn’t look sloppy or unprofessional from either inside or out. An added plus is that these decals also keep the room cooler, reduce glare, and block up to 99 percent of UV rays, which fade furniture, paint, and paintings.
Film requires no hooks, nail holes, or other damage your landlord may object to. It also requires no professional installation, and can be removed or altered as often as you like. When seasons change and the sun moves, you can easily adjust the decals to fit your needs. Just make sure to thoroughly clean your windows before you begin to make the static cling aspect work as well as possible.
A set of removable privacy film decals (three feet wide by six feet long) runs about $20 per window. Just cut the film with scissors to fit the windowpanes and stick them on. You do have to press them firmly to ensure they stay put, but once you get the hang of the process, you’ll find that it goes pretty quickly, even if you have windows with many panes. If you want to be creative, you can cut a design or pattern into them before sticking them up.
Before You Do Anything…
If your apartment or rental house is new or has recently been renovated, it doesn’t hurt to approach your landlord about blocking sunlight in certain rooms with blackout roman shades and/or stationary curtain panels at their expense. Of course, you want to cite that you’re concerned about the excessive sunlight damaging the painted walls, new cabinets, and fresh countertops instead of your sleepless mornings. No guarantees they’ll agree to the upgrade, but it never hurts to ask.