What are Blackout Curtains?

wiseGEEK Writer

For some people the thought of blackout curtains conjures up images of air raids, and imposed black out conditions during World War II. What may have begun as a safety device so that house would show no light and become a target for bombers has evolved into something quite different. Many people now advocate the use of blackout curtains as practical, energy saving, and perhaps noise-reducing window coverings.

Those who work graveyard shifts and sleep during the day tend to sleep much better if they're not being exposed to the daytime light.
Those who work graveyard shifts and sleep during the day tend to sleep much better if they're not being exposed to the daytime light.

A standard curtain may block some light, while others are sheer to partially sheer. Lining almost any type of curtain fabric with very tightly woven material can change the way it works. Provided the curtain can be hung so it covers all parts of the window, it may almost completely block out light. Some companies claim they block out about 99% of the light that would ordinarily flow into the window.

The light blocking ability could be a great choice for people on unusual schedules. Those who work graveyard shifts and sleep during the day tend to sleep much better if they’re not being exposed to daytime light. Blackout curtains might be the perfect solution, and they don’t have the hazards of some shades, which may over time degrade and not work as well.

There are plenty of people who advocate green living that recommend blackout curtains too. Since they block light, they may help keep a room from warming to the same degree, and when used in winter, they might help keep heat in. There are many different claims about the energy saving percentages that might be attributed to these curtains. Yet they clearly do provide some insulation, which may save money and energy.

Lastly blackout type curtains may reduce noise. This might help on high traffic streets, or again for anyone who sleeps during the day. It could also be assumed that blackout curtains may reduce noise getting out. Those who live in close living environments (like apartments) might find this extra privacy a bonus.

The light blocking ability of blackout curtains may have some disadvantages too. Used at night, people might not be awakened the next morning by the rising sun. They may also make room interiors extremely dark, which may mean having to use extra lights in the home. Some might find the darkness a little depressing but still want a curtain that provides some privacy. In this case, people might want to choose a sheerer or unlined type of curtain.

It’s pretty easy to find blackout curtains at a number of well-known retailers or on their online sites. Pricing can vary, and colors and styles also range. It is possible to get fairly moderate pricing at stores like Kmart® or Target®. Home supply stores may sell these curtains too. People with sewing skill can make their own curtains or transform a present set of curtains by lining them with blackout material. This may save some money and be a fun home improvement project.

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Discussion Comments


Hotels tend to have very efficient blackout window curtains. I usually sleep much longer in a hotel room, just because it is so dark.

The body just does not get the message that the light sends us, to wake up.

You wake up when you had enough sleep.

That types of drapes tend to be rather expensive, but I think they are really worth it.

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