Sleep keeps our brains and bodies functional, but for some, truly restful sleep is hard to come by. When I moved from living in a national park in Alberta to the biggest city in the province, the amount of light pollution was a stark change—I already had trouble sleeping, and this additional obstacle wasn’t doing me any favours. So I tried Sleepout, the portable blackout curtain designed by an insomniac, to see what difference it made in my pursuit of a decent R.E.M. cycle.
How it works
One of the benefits of the Sleepout curtain is how simple it is to set up. This no-tools solution comes with everything you need to eliminate excess light from your sleep space. The compact carrying case comes complete with two heavy-duty locking suction cups, the patented blackout fabric, and reusable adhesive strips called Sleepout Pads to rid your room of any light bleeds.
The curtain itself has velcro around the perimeter of the fabric so it can be used vertically or horizontally depending on the window you’re working with. Once the suction cups are placed at the top corners of your window, the curtain is easily fastened under existing blinds or curtain rods. The fabric can then be rolled or adjusted to cover the entire window frame, with Sleepout Pads applied in areas where persistent light leaks through. The entire process took no more than a minute for me to set up.
When I first installed it, the change in the bedroom was notable—I had never seen the space so dark. “Dark is the signal that tells your body to produce melatonin for sleep,” says Dr. Sara Nowakowski, who studies sleep medicine at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine. For anyone trying to rest after a night shift, or a fussy toddler who struggles to nap, or a troubled sleeper like me who needs all the help they can get even after the sun goes down, the darkness achieved by Sleepout can give you the circadian boost you need to drift off with ease.
The Sleepout is designed to travel with you, which is why so many athletes, including recent Olympians and cast members of Netflix’s show Cheer, love the product. Because it’s designed to rotate to fit any window, you can replicate the good sleep you have at home wherever you lay your head. The cotton carrying case is lightweight and about the size of a rolled up beach towel—perfect for your carry-on.
Being able to combat jet lag means enjoying your vacation sooner. And for athletes like gold medallist short track speed skater Jordan Pierre-Gilles, who had a Sleepout curtain with him during the Beijing Winter Olympics, rest is crucial to success.
Though the certified blackout fabric is sturdy enough to live up to its promise, the look of the curtain may not be for everyone. The curtain requires some adjusting to fit around a smaller window without fabric taking over the space, and because it’s designed to be removed in the morning, I didn’t want to spend too much time adjusting it just to even out the shape. If you’re picky about how your space looks, it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing decor choice—though it will be too dark for you to notice.
If you’re adding and removing the curtain when you need it, it’s an additional step to your bedtime and morning routines, though the install is easier than flossing. But a word of warning: if you’re not a morning person, this curtain isn’t going to help you achieve that goal. It was so dark when my alarm went off that I forgot where I was for a minute. All of this, however, seems like a small price to pay for a full night of rest.
If you don’t mind adding another step to your routine, this is an easy way to up your sleep game. It’s guaranteed to darken whatever space you need in order to get some well-deserved rest. This would be an absolute game changer for anyone who works nights to help restore some natural rhythm to your sleep cycle, with the promise that you can bring a good night’s sleep with you wherever you go.