The ‘dark’ secret to deep sleep

  • Luxaflex® blog
  • Tips

We spend around a third of our lives in bed. But how many of us actually sleep as well as we should? ...Apparently 71 per cent of UK adults* do not have the recommended seven to nine hours’ sleep a night.

Your bedroom environment is crucially important in achieving the best quality slumber. Darkness and temperature in particular can play a major part in getting great sleep.

Plissé Shades

Why is quality sleep so important?

According to the NHS, lack of sleep in both children and adults can contribute to increased behaviour difficulties, reduced concentration, and irritability. NHS research suggests that sleep deprivation can contribute towards an increased risk of dementia, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and a stroke.

On the other hand, good quality sleep helps with mental, physical, social and emotional development. It boosts your mood, your energy levels and even your immune system.

Dr Holly Milling, Registered Clinical Psychologist and Founder of The Sleep Practice, said: “The science is clear: sleep is one of the biggest health investments we can make. It is so important for our physical and psychological health and […] we need to stop seeing sleep as a luxury and start seeing it as a necessity.”

Duette® Shades

Why is darkness significant to improved sleep?

Amy Gallagher, Senior Sleep Physiologist at Cromwell Hospital says: "Your body goes through a series of changes in preparation for sleep. When it gets dark, you start producing more melatonin -- this is a sleep hormone that makes you feel relaxed and tired. At the same time your core temperature also decreases."

For deep and long-lasting sleep, the Sleep Charity advises that it should be dark enough that you shouldn't be able to see the other side of the bedroom!

"Light and dark are strong cues in telling your body when it's time to wake up or go to sleep.

"When it's dark, we release melatonin (the hormone that helps regulate the body's circadian rhythm), which relaxes the body and helps us to drift off. It's no surprise that many of us struggle to adjust to a new sleeping pattern during British Summer Time! When we see light, our bodies assume it's time to be awake and alert which is why artificial light in an evening disrupts our circadian rhythms - making us feel less sleepy.

"Even when you're sleeping, light can be detected through your eyelids, so we need darkness to stay fast asleep."

Cushions and pillows Cushions and pillows

Optimal sleep temperature

The temperature of your bedroom can help or hinder a good night’s sleep.

Too cool and you might struggle to drift off, too hot and you risk waking frequently and not getting enough ‘slow wave’ deep sleep. Ideally, you should aim to keep your bedroom temperature between 13 and 18 degrees C.

In summer, you may choose to keep your shades closed during the day and consider Duette® Shades that help reduce incoming heat.

Duette® Shades Duette® Shades

One answer to both issues; choosing the right window coverings

With the right window coverings, you can block out both light and heat for a perfect night’s sleep.

  • Mind the gap; opt for custom-made blinds which fit your windows perfectly, preventing light from creeping in around the edges. Particularly useful for evening workers who inevitably have to sleep while it’s light outside.
  • Luxaflex® Duette® Shades are available with room darkening fabrics and ensure minimal gaps. Our LightLock™ feature is the ultimate room darkening solution to absorb incoming light and prevent it from seeping into the room.
  • Choose insulating blinds, such as Duette® Shades with their honeycomb structure. Their clever design will keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
  • Maintaining a regular sleep/wake pattern can help you fall asleep more easily at night and wake naturally in the morning. Automated blinds can be a good way to encourage you to wind down and wake up at the desired time.

PowerView Automation® PowerView Automation®

Just as darkness is needed for quality sleep, light is an important factor in your morning routine. To feel alert, it’s important to have exposure to light upon awakening and natural light as soon as is practical.

Natural light, even on a cloudy day, helps reset our internal body clock. Smart blinds can be programmed to gradually open in the morning, waking you with gentle natural light and getting your day started in a peaceful and motivating way. Our PowerView Automation® app can coordinate the opening of your blinds with sunrise in your local area.

So, just like exercise and a healthy diet, getting enough good sleep is an essential part of looking after your physical and mental health.

Wood blinds Wood blinds

What are the health benefits of getting enough sleep?

  1. Improves your attention and concentration
  2. Learn and make memories
  3. Helps you maintain a healthy weight
  4. Keep your heart healthy
  5. Keep your immune system strong
  6. Looks after your emotional and mental wellbeing
  7. Reduce your stress levels
  8. Maintain good relationships
Wood blinds Wood blinds

More top tips to sleep well

  • The main thing is to keep your sleep environment dark and cool.
  • Limit alcohol close to bedtime and try avoiding caffeine after lunch.
  • Keeping a regular sleep/wake cycle can send signals to your body that it is time to rest. This makes it easier to fall asleep earlier in the night. Your body sets your "biological clock" according to the pattern of daylight where you live. This helps you naturally become sleepy at night and stay alert during the day.
  • Reduce bright light exposure in the evening; make use of lamps and dimmer switches. Your body prepares for sleep when it gets darker.
  • Give technology a rest before bed. Not only does the glowing light affect your ability to wind down, but social media and news sites can be stimulating and potentially stress-inducing before bed.
  • Blue light (from phones, computers, and TV) inhibits the night-time secretion of melatonin

Contact your local showroom to ask about made-to-measure Luxaflex® blinds, and read more about their room darkening properties here.

*Research from Direct Line Group.