On my way out of REI this week, I spotted a chalkboard by the exit that said Dark Sky Week April 22-30.
I found it amusing, as this week I made changes to reduce light in my bedroom after dark in an attempt to improve the quality of my sleep. My old clock radio had a nightlight on top that couldn’t be turned off and that cast a soft glow onto the bed. For years I put a folded washcloth on top in order to dim the light and to also dim the brightness of the clock’s numbers. When I read an article last week about how even a small amount of light causes our bodies to enter flight or fight mode while asleep, I decided to get a new clock.
The clock I bought allows me to completely shut off the display during the night. Now the bed is noticeably darker. I’ve also stopped using the nightlight by the bathroom (also too bright and also blocked by a washcloth) so less light intrudes during nighttime bathroom breaks.
It’s too soon to tell if this is helping, but I’m hopeful.
Unfortunately, my neighborhood isn’t a dark place. My bedroom windows get light from the streetlights behind me. At the front, light from everyone’s garage lights filters through the closed blinds and down the hall to my bedroom on nights when it’s warm enough that I want the bedroom door open. Moonlight sneaks through the bedroom blinds when the moon is full enough.
Still, I’ve managed to make the bedroom noticeably darker.
There’s nothing I can do to make the skies darker in my neighborhood. Which is a pity, because I’d love to be able to stargaze. One of the things I loved about living in West Africa was the lack of light pollution. With many outdoor places only lit by lanterns at night, the brilliance of the stars against the sky was breathtaking.
One of these days, I’ll move to a place with less light pollution and reacquaint myself with the stars.
Until then, I’ll keep trying to get my bedroom as dark as possible.