As a parent, you know how important it is for your baby to get enough sleep. And when it comes to creating a sleep-friendly environment, blackout blinds are often touted as a must-have. But are they really necessary?
In this blog, I’ll explore the benefits of blackout blinds for sleep and whether they are actually needed for nights and naps.
The Importance of Sleep for Babies Sleep
We can all agree that sleep is important – for development, for growth, for learning, and just to feel regulated and ready to face the day. And while we as parents always feel like we could use more sleep (I am right there with you from all the sleepless nights to the point of pure exhaustion), sleep is especially important and necessary for our babies.
We consolidate our learning while we sleep. Yup, this is true! REM sleep is the phase of sleep that supports brain growth and also improves emotional well-being. And guess what, the good thing is that babies can get into this stage of sleep quite easily and actually spend most of their naps in REM sleep too.
Resting the brain is a biological necessity and our babies and toddlers are not able to tolerate being awake for long periods of time. This is why napping at regular intervals during the day is so important, as it reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) levels – which is why you often have a cranky baby on your hands when they haven’t napped in a while. Babies who do not nap will also usually have a very hard time falling asleep at night because of the buildup of cortisol.
So yeah, sleep is important!
Why Don’t Babies Sleep?
So why does it seem like they want to do anything and everything but sleep?
Part of the reason we *think* that babies are not getting enough sleep is because our society wants us to believe that they must have 2 hour long naps during the day and sleep 11-12 hours consistently at night, and the truth is that is not actually how babies sleep!
They wake up – often a lot…. Especially in the first 6 months. They wake up for various reasons such as hunger, thirst, wet, dirty, too hot, too cold, needing a change in position, and needing comfort to know they are not alone and are safe.
So perhaps it is not that your baby doesn’t want to sleep, but rather that you have unrealistic expectations of how much or how long they should be sleeping at any given moment or age. Something to think about!
It is important for you to remember that every child is different and that it is normal for infants to have varying sleep patterns. And please don’t worry, you are likely doing nothing wrong and your baby is probably getting the right amount for sleep that their body needs. And if they aren’t you will know – their mood will be cranky, fussy, crying most of the day. I am here to help, so reach out if you want some support figuring this out.
Understanding Blackout Blinds
Okay, back to the topic at hand…. Blackout blinds and whether they are needed or not.
In order to answer this, we need to understand what exactly blackout blind are and why they were even invented.
Blackout blinds are specially designed window coverings that block out external light sources, providing a dark and conducive environment for sleep. They work by using materials that are opaque, such as thick fabric, vinyl, or PVC, to prevent light from passing through the window.
The benefits of blackout blinds for sleep are numerous.
Firstly, they help create a dark sleep environment, which is essential for promoting sleep, especially in areas where there is too much ambient light (think those long summer nights, or perhaps when you are travelling to a different time zone). Secondly, they help regulate the baby’s sleep-wake cycle, promoting better quality sleep and reducing sleep disturbances. Finally, because blackout blinds are often of a thicker material, they can also provide a sound barrier, reducing external noise, which can disrupt sleep.
When choosing the right blackout blind for your baby’s sleep environment, it’s important to consider the material used, the level of light blockage, the ease of use, and the overall aesthetic. It’s also essential to ensure that the blackout blinds meet the relevant safety standards, such as being cordless or having inaccessible cords, to prevent any accidents or injuries.
Blackout blinds are an effective tool for creating a sleep-friendly environment, especially for babies and young children who require a lot of sleep. They are designed to block out external light and create a dark sleeping space that is conducive to quality sleep. Blackout blinds can be VERY helpful for longer night-time stretches of sleep and also for those early rising toddlers!
Here are some benefits of using blackout blinds for nighttime sleep:
- Regulating the body’s circadian rhythm: Exposure to natural light during the day helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, which is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. At night, exposure to light can disrupt the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Blackout blinds help block out external light, signaling to the body that it’s time to sleep.
- Promoting deeper and more restful sleep: A dark sleeping environment helps promote deeper and more restful sleep, which is crucial for babies and young children who require a lot of sleep for their development. Research has shown that exposure to light at night can interfere with the quality of sleep, leading to more frequent awakenings and lighter sleep.
- Reducing the risk of sleep disturbances caused by external stimuli: External stimuli, such as streetlights or passing cars, can disrupt sleep and cause awakenings. Blackout blinds help block out these external stimuli, creating a quieter and more peaceful sleeping environment.
Overall, blackout blinds can help create an optimal sleeping environment for babies and young children, at night, by promoting deeper, more restful sleep and reducing the risk of sleep disturbances caused by external stimuli.
Do you need Blackout Blinds for Daytime Naps too?
One question I get a lot from parents is whether they need to have their baby napping in a dark and quiet room during the day.
My answer is always this…. While blackout blinds can be very useful to block out light at night or in the early morning hours, thereby promoting better sleep overnight, they are actually not needed during the day. *Gasp*
I hear you mama – I know you are thinking that you want your baby to sleep better (and possibly longer) during the day as well as at night, but hear me out on this.
Remember I mentioned that our circadian rhythm is regulated by light and dark? Well, during the day natural light can actually be very beneficial for regulating the body’s circadian rhythm, which means more balanced hormones, which can lead to better sleep at night. Now, I am by no means telling you to nap your baby in a brightly lit room or right next to a window that is letting the sunshine in, but a little bit of natural light – whether during a stroller or carrier nap outdoors or perhaps just a dimly light (versus pitch black) room may actually be better for the overnight sleep.
The other thing I mentioned above was that sleeping in the dark often promotes deeper and more restful sleep…. And who doesn’t want that at night or during the day? Well, the purpose of naps is not necessarily to get super long stretches of deep sleep (cue the groan). The purpose of naps is actually to reduce the sleep pressure that builds up from time awake, daily activities and routines (ie, solids play or going to the park), and also the stimulation of interacting with people and toys in our daily life. The nap helps reduce the sleep pressure throughout the day, without totally getting rid of it completely so that by the night time you have a sleepy baby who is tired but not overtired and who *hopefully* will then sleep longer stretches at night.
So, as you can see, blackout blinds may not be necessary for daytime naps, and in fact, it may be better to have some natural light filtering in to help the body stay in tune with the natural rhythms of day and night. That being said, if the light in the room is too bright and disruptive to sleep, then using some type of shade or curtain to reduce the amount of light may be helpful.
How to Choose the Right Blackout Blinds for Your Baby?
When selecting the best blackout blinds for your baby, there are several factors to consider, such as:
· Material: The material of the blackout blinds is important to consider as it can affect the amount of light that is blocked. Look for materials that are thick and opaque, such as polyester or cotton.
· Size: The size of the blackout blinds is also important. Measure the window that the blinds will be installed on and make sure to select a size that fits the window properly.
· Installation: Look for blackout blinds that are easy to install and operate. Some options include blinds that are mounted on the inside of the window frame, or those that can be easily clipped onto the window frame.
· Safety: Always prioritize safety when selecting blackout blinds for your baby. Make sure they meet safety standards and don’t have any cords that could pose a risk of strangulation or other hazards.
· Additional features: Consider additional features such as thermal insulation, noise reduction, or UV protection, depending on your needs and preferences.
My go-to recommendation for blackout blinds is the SleepOut Portable Blackout Curtain. I really love the Sleepout blackout blinds because they are made in Canada, are actually 100% blackout, and only use fabrics that are not treated with toxic chemicals. This last part is so important to me as we are a low-tox family and I know that a lot of the mamas that I support are conscious about reducing the toxins in their daily lives too.
Get to know more about the SleepOut Portable Blackout Curtain!
** Disclosure: I only recommend products that I love, so you know that these ones are the real thing! All opinions presented here are my own. This post contains an affiliate link that I may earn a small commission from, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting my small business!
By considering these factors, you can select the best blackout blinds for your baby’s sleep environment, which can help promote more restful and uninterrupted sleep.
Tips for Creating a Sleep-Friendly Environment
- Creating a sleep-friendly environment is essential for helping babies get the restful sleep they need. Here are some tips and recommendations to consider:
· Temperature: Keep the room temperature between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit. This range is considered the optimal temperature for promoting sleep and can help regulate your baby’s body temperature, allowing for a comfortable and restful sleep.
· Noise levels: Minimize noise levels in the baby’s room by using white noise machines, fans, or earplugs. This can help create a peaceful and calming environment and mask any external noise that may disrupt your baby’s sleep.
· Lighting: Use blackout blinds to block out light and create a dark sleep environment. Exposure to light can disrupt the circadian rhythm, making it harder for babies to fall asleep and stay asleep.
· Sleep routine: Establishing a consistent sleep routine can help regulate your baby’s internal clock and promote better sleep. A typical routine may include a bath, reading a book, and dimming the lights before bed.
· Bedtime and wake-up time: Consistency is key when it comes to bedtime and wake-up time. Try to establish a regular schedule, even on weekends, to help your baby’s body get into a sleep routine.
· Safety: Ensure your baby’s sleep environment is safe by using a firm and flat sleep surface, keeping loose bedding and soft objects out of the crib, and placing the crib away from any potential hazards, such as windows and cords.
By implementing these tips and recommendations, you can help create a sleep-friendly environment that promotes restful and rejuvenating sleep for your little one.
You can join a group of other Mamas just like you in my free group Sleep Deprived Mama’s Holistic + Heart Centered Support and see how we are all navigating this together!