Thursday, April 7, 2011

Darkness--Part 2

Complete darkness in the bedroom seems to be working very well. All lined curtains have been closed at night, windows have been blacked out at night with black-out liners. All doors are closed at night and all LED lights have been covered with cardboard flaps. There are no night lights on all night. I have a flashlight on my night stand in case I want to head walk to the bathroom.

Having taken all of those steps to have complete darkness in the bedroom, I have discovered that I still regularly wake up two or three times per night. The difference is that when one sleep cycle ends, and I come out of a deep sleep, the room is so dark that I doze briefly, then go back to sleep. Because the room is very dark, my brain seems to know it isn't time to wake up so I go back to sleep. 

My mind doesn't seem to start the laundry list of things I think about during the day and doesn't try to solve all the world's problems before five a.m. I don't lie awake watching the trees outside the window swaying in the breeze. I don't look at the full moon shining through the skylight in the bathroom. My sleep cycles are continuous rather than constantly interrupted. I was interested to read the discussion of sleep stages analysis online and this statement was especially enlightening:  

Older people are more easily awoken by disturbances in the environment[63] and may to some degree lose the ability to consolidate sleep.

When my son was an infant, he would wake up completely several times per night and wouldn't go back to sleep without attention. We had a night light in the hallway so I wouldn't trip going to his room. There was never complete darkness in his room. We used to talk about his inability to put himself back to sleep between sleep cycles, but we didn't make his room completely dark. Parents of infants fear that it will unnecessarily alarm small children to awake in a dark room. It makes me wonder. Maybe we did more harm than good. The angst of parents.


  1. I need a dark room to sleep, too. It doesn't need to be completely dark, though, and I do enjoy having the window open a little so I can hear the wind and see the trees. Sometimes, though, I pull it closed if I have trouble sleeping. Glad to know the dark room is helping you!

  2. I always had the ability to fall asleep standing up on a bus! It wasn't until I hit 50 that I started this never ending trail of thoughts that disturb a decent nights sleep. Maybe I should try black out curtains ... or get a cat that isn't nocturnal.

  3. I have to giggle about the cats because we had two many years ago when we were young. They would snuggle against us but I couldn't sleep with one now.