Or you know, get a sleeping mask
I just can't get my bedroom dark enough, the windows are too large and the walls are too crumbly to hold up heavy curtains or stuff like that. But since sleeping in a room that is bright enough to read tabloid headlines in at night does no longer work for me, I came up with a slightly weird idea: I thought that I could build something cave-like around my bed. I love to sleep in confined spaces anyway.
So far I thought I could build a frame out of plastic pipes and make a cover out of black fleece (the synthetic stuff) blankets, held together with velcro, so that the whole thing can be disassembled when necessary.
Or you know, get a sleeping mask
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2nd the sleep mask. I hated them until I found one with room for me to blink my eyes. I have this one.
You could also try affixing black out material or shades within the window frame rather than curtain rods to the walls. If you'd really like curtains, than it would be worth taking the time to find the studs. If the studs are crumbling, you've got bigger problems.
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You can do like most of the night-shift workers I know, and just tape aluminum foil to the windows. Blocks 100% of light, weighs next to nothing, and keeps out government mind-control beams as a bonus (I kid, of course...)
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Back in college, I ghetto rigged a canopy by thumbtacking 10' lengths of fabric to the ceiling. With all the hassle of that, and my distaste for stale air, I'd veto it, but to each their own.
I had to hunt for a while to find an eye mask that would accomodate a tiny (read, child size) head without pinching my ears and leave me room to blink. Now that I have it, I LOVE IT. I'd highly recommend trying out an eyemask prior to spending the money and effort on the "cave."
We also took the styrofoam/ foil insulation stuff (the stiff kind you use on the outside of the house) and cut it to fit the windows and shoved it in there. It's light enough it wouldn't cause problems with your walls and should block most of the light.
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I use a sleeping mask (and earplugs as well) and tinfoil's not a bad idea, either. Certainly less labor-intensive than a sleeping cave. Of course, if you really want to go the whole nine yards, you could build a traditional four-poster bed and hang it with Medieval-style tapestries.
I think I remember Mark quoting a study where a quarter-sized point of light shone on the back of someone's knee decreased melatonin production. So I would probably try to black out the windows as opposed to a sleeping mask. Conversely, I don't have A/C so we just use fans in the windows to bring in the cool night air so at least in the summer a sleeping mask sounds a lot nicer than stopping the airflow!
I can't stand sleeping masks, tried them, no success (I hate it when stuff touches the bridge of my nose, so the blinking one would not help). I was also told that they should not be worn on a regular basis, because the climate under the mask makes eye infections more likely.
My son just did his window this weekend ... brown mailer paper (had more of that than foil), then a dark microfleece close to the window, rehung the mini blinds and the dark curtains. Temps are better in there now too.
Everything's shiny, Cap'n. Not to fret.
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