One of the questions I’ve been asked by students with chronic migraines is how to make a dorm room completely dark, since it can be difficult to block out indoor and outdoor lights in on-campus housing without violating housing policies. I used a few different techniques to make my dorm room completely dark when I lived on campus for four and a half years, and today I will be sharing my tips for how to make a dorm room completely dark using items that can easily be purchased at the campus bookstore or at another local store.
This post does not contain affiliate links and I do not make any money from sharing shopping links. I have included some product links for convenience so that readers can explore options that work well for their needs.
Put opaque tape over small lights
My headphone stand, remote control outlet, and a few other items in my dorm had small LED lights that I covered with opaque paper tape that I had leftover from a craft project so that I didn’t have to constantly see the lights glowing in the dark. Duct tape is another option that works well for covering lights too.
Hang up blackout curtains
I purchased blackout curtains from Target before my freshman year of college and used them for the entire time I lived on campus. I preferred to hang two sets of curtains so that they stretched over the edge of the window, which was helpful during lightning storms as I could block out “nature’s strobe lights.”
Attach privacy film to the windows
Privacy film does not completely block out light, but can be paired with blackout curtains to block out even more light, especially bright sunlight. I recommend checking with housing before hanging privacy film as this may be against their policies, though my college let students hang privacy film if they received disability housing accommodations.
Turn off power strips when not in use
While some power strips remain hidden and do not give off a ton of light, students who are especially sensitive to light may prefer to turn off power strips when not in use to avoid excess light and noise from electronics, which can be annoying for some people that are dealing with migraines.
Make sure lights can be turned off easily
Having to get up and walk to the other side of the room to turn off a light is frustrating when dealing with a migraine, so it’s helpful to have lights that can be turned on and off easily, as well as adjusted. Some ways to make lights easier to turn on and off include:
- Using table lamps instead of overhead lights
- Setting up the dorm bed next to the light switch
- Plugging lights into a remote-controlled outlet (can be purchased for about $25 and does not require internet)
- Using Amazon Alexa connected tools to turn lights on/off
- If available, using a motion sensor to turn lights on/off
Put an object in front of the window, like an air mattress
This is not a long-term solution, but for students who are struggling with lots of light coming in from their windows, I recommend putting an object like an air mattress in front of the window to block out lights. This is something I would do in high school before I had blackout curtains to block out lightning from storms or when I had a particularly bad migraine.
If you live with roommates, consider a privacy tent
While I always had my own bedroom in college and did not share with any roommates, one of my friends who gets migraines and lived with roommates set up a privacy tent on their bed that they could zip shut to block out light. They cost around $100, but my friend said it was great to be able to block out light even when their roommates insisted on having all of the lights on.
- Privacy tents on Amazon (external link)
- Seven Things I Tell My College Suitemates About My Disability
Keep an eye mask in an easy-to-reach area
Eye masks and pillows are another great option for blocking out light when it is difficult to control environmental lighting. I prefer to rest a small weighted eye pillow on my face over using an eye mask because the strap often feels tight on my head, though both are a great option for making a dorm room (or any room) completely dark. I’ve linked a similar eye pillow to the one I have below.
Other tips for how to make a dorm room completely dark
- Do not block the crack under the door that leads to the hallway, as this is usually against fire code
- Keep a small nightlight or flashlight that can be turned on/off easily if you need light for a short period of time but can’t turn on overhead lights
- Label light switches with tactile stickers to know which switch turns on each light