Why You Should Embrace Sleeping in Complete Darkness

Sleeping in darkness, often associated with fear, actually offers numerous benefits. Complete darkness aids circadian rhythm, melatonin production, and overall health. Achieve darkness with blackout curtains, eye masks, and a calming bedroom environment.

In many cultures, sleeping in darkness is associated with things that go bump in the night. Add in scary movies, ghost stories, and our predisposition to fear the unknown, and it’s no mystery why we clutch our security blankets at night.

However, every person’s first experience with sleep is in the womb—enveloped in warmth and total darkness. Darkness is truly nature’s gift for getting a good night’s rest. The trick is rerouting your mindset and making small changes to receive it.

The benefits of sleeping in complete darkness

The benefits of embracing total darkness while sleeping are vast and well-documented. According to the National Institutes of Health, even a sliver of light in your bedroom can disrupt your circadian rhythm, your body’s internal clock, that (silently) tells your body when to rest and when to rise.

It also affects your body’s ability to produce melatonin, the hormone responsible for good sleep hygiene, boosting your mood and immune system, improving brain and eye health, and decreasing your risk of diabetes.

Exposure to light while sleeping can “lead to an increased nighttime heart rate and decreased heart rate variability, while sleeping in a dark environment has been linked to better metabolic health as it reduces next-morning insulin resistance,” says Biquan Luo, MD, a sleep expert with Lumos.

Plus, after a good night’s sleep, you feel and look amazing (begone, puffy under-eye circles).

You already know that turning off our electrical devices is an essential part of a healthy evening routine, but it’s not just about doom-scrolling and shopping in your sleep; it’s the blue light they emit.

“Bedrooms should be ‘cave-like’ in terms of darkness so that our melatonin can be at its peak. Ideally, if you hold your hand out at arms’ length, you should not be able to see your fingers wiggling,” says naturopathic doctor Catherine Darley, founder of the Institute of Naturopathic Sleep Medicine in Seattle.

How to embrace the benefits of sleeping in a dark room

Learning to sleep in a dark room doesn’t involve black magic, but it may take some getting used to. Here are some ways to create an environment that feels safe and not scary.

  • Get blackout curtains. Whether it’s city lights or moonlight, blackout curtains are double-lined and made of materials designed to ensure no outside light sneaks into your bedroom.
  • Wear an
    eye mask
    saatva silk eye mask
    Silk Eye Mask

    Blocks out light for restful sleep while protecting the delicate skin around the eyes

    Sleep masks aren’t just for red-eye air travel. They can help you feel more in control while adjusting to total darkness—and protect you from any brightness.
  • Zen your bed out. Make your bedroom a serene oasis with soothing colors like beige, light blues, and greens and eliminate clutter. Reorganize your nightstand and stock it with nighttime essentials like pens, a book, hand lotion, and a clip-on reading light. Opt for a small water bottle instead of a drinking glass to avoid knocking it over in your sleep. Go all out and invest in cloud-like bedding, a
    mattress pad
    saatva mattress pad
    Mattress Pad

    Instantly adds a plush layer of comfort and protection

    , and comfy pajamas.
  • Cultivate a soothing nighttime practice. This could be writing in a journal, reading for 15 minutes, listening to a guided meditation or a dreamscape on a Bluetooth speaker, drinking a cup of chamomile tea, or practicing a short yoga nidra practice before lights out.
  • Take your time. Like any new routine, easing yourself into total darkness may help you shake off the scaries and trust the process.

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Is it good to sleep in total darkness?

Aside from finding the bedroom door (don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it), there aren’t any known negatives of sleeping in total darkness.

“With the widespread adoption of the electric light, we’re controlling the night for the first time,” says Darley. “Our physiology evolved with nocturnal darkness and is designed for it.”

Why is it better to sleep with the lights off?

Beyond its positive health benefits, taking control of your sleep health by listening to your body’s natural signals can be empowering.

“As you ease into darkness, you might find yourself letting go of anxieties and fears that thrive in the harsh light of day,” says Echo Wang, yoga instructor and CEO and founder of Yoga Kawa. “Darkness becomes a safe space for your mind to truly unwind.”

Loud noise can impact your ability to get a good night’s snooze. Here’s how to keep noise from ruining your sleep.

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