How to Darken a Bedroom

Laurie Brenner

Shift workers get the raw end of the stick when they have to sleep during daylight hours. Unless they’re naturally night owls, readjusting the body to sleep during the day is hard enough when the bedroom is not awash with light. Even an eye mask won’t keep all that brightness at bay.

Opt for a paint that doesn't reflect the light to darken your bedroom for daytime sleeping.

Besides adding blackout curtains to your windows, you can darken your bedroom with paint so that it doesn’t send the light bouncing around the room; that way, you can train your body to get a good day’s sleep for your next shift.

Block the Light

  1. Apply a darkened window film to the windows by cutting the film to fit the window after measuring it. Lightly spritz the window with water, and then place the film directly on the window, smoothing it from the top down. Apply the plastic scraper that came in the kit to remove the excess water and adhere the plastic to the window. The film cuts down on excess light, especially for windows that face the sun during most of the day.

  2. Measure the inside dimensions of your window so that you can purchase blackout shades that fit inside the window frame. Measure the width first, as that is the most important measurement, and subtract 1/8 inch to allow for the mounting brackets.

  3. Secure the brackets for the window shade directly to the inside of the window frame with wood screws at the top on both sides of the window. Since the window was framed in wood beneath the drywall or wood framing, you can safely secure the mounting brackets for the pull-down shades directly to the inside of the window.

  4. Roll up the shade and insert the ends, first one side, and then the next into the slots in the brackets.

  5. Add the desired window treatments over the shades such as floor-length drapes or curtains.

Darken the Room With Paint

  1. Visit the local hardware, home improvement or paint store to pick up a variety of darker colored paint chips.

  2. Place the paint chips on the wall to provide an idea of which color would look best in your room. Choose colors that have been toned down with gray so as not to reflect light. Good darker color choices for a bedroom that don’t reflect the light include dark grays, browns, greens or blues.

  3. Eliminate the colors you don’t like. After elimination, pick up small 1-pint paint samples of the colors that are left. Paint them in squares on the wall to get an idea of the color that appeals to you best. Examine the dried color as the light moves through the room in the day, but also test how it looks with the shades drawn and curtains closed to see if it reflects any light that may be left in the room.

  4. Remove the furniture from the room; lay plastic dropcloths or painter’s tarps on the floor. Remove outlet covers and light switches and set them in plastic bags with their screws. Tape off the baseboards, crown molding or trim throughout the room using painter’s tape.

  5. Fill the roller tray with paint; run the roller through the tray to get the roller covered with paint, but not saturated. Apply the paint to the wall, working in “Ws” across the walls and ceiling until covered with paint. Trim the corners with a paintbrush. Let the paint dry.

  6. Reinstall all the furniture after the room has sufficiently dried, usually in about four to six hours or sooner, depending on the warmth in the room.

  7. Pull down the shades, cover the shades with the curtains, and turn off the lights in the room to enjoy your newly darkened bedroom as you slip between the sheets for a good day's rest.

  8. Tip

    Pull the shade down to test its tension. If it requires adjustment, pull the shade halfway down and remove it from its mounting brackets on either side of the window. Roll the shade up by hand and reinstall in the brackets. Repeat as necessary until the shade has the desired tension. If you can’t install shades for whatever reason, add a cornice box or enclosed valance above the window and install blackout drapes. The cornice box keeps light that peeks through the tops of the curtain from entering the room. Blackout drapes are usually floor length and include a thermal lining.


    Warm colors such as red don’t make the best choice for bedrooms; red is an energizing color. Stick to cool or darker colors for the best results.