Help my husband not hate me this winter.
September 17, 2020 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Now that it’s dark again while I’m getting ready for work, I need to light my bedroom enough to get dressed. My husband sleeps later than I do, and I try not to wake him by turning on the bedside lamp. Help me figure out some infrastructure that works better than the flashlight on my phone.

I have two lighting scenes I’d like to improve, if possible.

Scene A: my chest of drawers serves as a nightstand, so it is next to the bed, and in a corner so there is wall space both behind it and perpendicular to it. I’d like enough light to see what I’m pulling out, without illuminating the wall/room. What I’d like, in theory, is some sort of downward lighting. In my head I’ve envisioned the equivalent of stair tread lighting; something dim and downward pointing that I could put on the wall next to the drawers, or maybe something on top of the drawers that shines down?

Scene B: we have a run of sliding doors for our reach in closet that faces the foot of our bed. We had some motion activated closet lights that were helpful, but they were a) too bright and b) tripped even when the doors were closed. The doors to the closet have enough gaps that motion activated lighting is not ideal. I’d like something that has a different trigger- magnets? A switch? And again, is fairly dim.

Constraints: I’d prefer not to do any wiring for this project, as our household DIY docket is currently full. We also may reconfigure the closets in the future. Open to throwing some money at this, but cost effective is nice. Smart home options are welcome; we’re a HomeKit family but have been known to hack together solutions with homebridge when necessary.
posted by bluloo to Home & Garden (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you lay out your clothes ahead of time in the bathroom and get dressed in there?
posted by soelo at 2:35 PM on September 17, 2020 [10 favorites]

I know I know, not answering the question, but: put your clothes out (in the bathroom?) the night before. Bonus: longer lie in for you, too.

Jinx, soelo.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 2:36 PM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

LED Tap lights?
posted by Freedomboy at 2:37 PM on September 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

You could pick your outfit the night before and get dressed in another room. No wiring and it’s free.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:38 PM on September 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: i agree with "set out your stuff the night before" but to actually answer the question:

this clip on light is decent. it has brightness and color controls. i'd clip it to the lip of your dresser if you have one and have it point down at your drawers. if you don't have a lip you could command strip it on.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 2:43 PM on September 17, 2020

Response by poster: To address the first set of responses: not interested in getting dressed elsewhere, for Reasons.
posted by bluloo at 2:51 PM on September 17, 2020

Fairy lights will sort of do this, they are generally a soft and gentle light and could be arranged exactly where you need the light. Not a hi-tech smart home sort of look though.

Alternatively, I would look at night lights aimed at kids, they're often designed to give off just enough light that you can see but not enough to prevent sleeping.
posted by stillnocturnal at 2:51 PM on September 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

A red light option would be less likely to wake your husband up but clothes matching might get interesting. Red LED bulbs are available to try this out with a lamp, then you could upgrade with strip lights plugged into a USB power source or battery if you like it.
posted by momus_window at 2:56 PM on September 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

How about these? In the closet, use the switch instead of the motion sensor; in the drawers, mount them inside the drawer either in front on the drawer facing or up on the bottom of the drawer above, so it shines down on the contents from well inside the drawer where hopefully it is not in line of sight.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:57 PM on September 17, 2020

Mostly-serious suggestion: headlamp? Even better if it does red light (and you can deal with monochromatic picking-of-clothes)
posted by supercres at 2:57 PM on September 17, 2020 [9 favorites]

In terms of lighting, those undercabinet stick-on LED light strips might work, but you might want to look for the dimmable ones. Never underestimate how few lumens will wake a light sleeper - we weren't able to make this work with a regular nightlight.

When I was dealing with this situation I put my clothes out, but in a garment bag in the living room; I didn't particularly want my work clothes covered in fur or absorbing unventilated bathroom and litter box odors. Assuming that your husband isn't likely to get weird about you adding steps to your evening routine (there's context), that might be the most sustainable option.
posted by blerghamot at 2:58 PM on September 17, 2020

Best answer: I have succesfully changed babies without waking the other adult in the room or the baby using these things.
posted by caek at 2:59 PM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have an LED reading lamp. It’s highly directional. If you put it on top of the nightstand, you could probably aim it directly downward, without too much ambient light escaping.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 3:00 PM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Salt lamp! Especially one with a dimmer switch.
posted by mekily at 3:02 PM on September 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

I use my Hue lights to wake up in the winter, and have them turn on at a specific time on very low, and then get brighter. I am not recommending this in the bedroom, but perhaps in an adjacent room that will provide enough ambient light for you to see in the bedroom?

Or, a light that turns on at floor level so you can see but does not wake your husband.
posted by terrapin at 3:09 PM on September 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Have you tried attacking this from the other direction by having your husband wear a sleep mask? The kind with molded eye cups (vs a flat piece of fabric) tend to block out light better, in my experience.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 3:09 PM on September 17, 2020 [6 favorites]

Came here to say sleep mask for husband. Stayed to second the suggestion. Like, if your floors are cold you could pay to install subfloor heating OR you could wear slippers. Similarly, if your bedroom has too much light for you to sleep undisturbed, you could demand the bedroom be darkened no matter how many stubbed toes and how much smeared eyeliner that results in OR you could wear a sleep mask. It's an easy fix.
posted by MiraK at 3:26 PM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi everyone, please assume we’ve tried all the other recommendations being suggested. Really just looking for lighting suggestions for the two areas discussed. Thanks!
posted by bluloo at 3:27 PM on September 17, 2020

I was also going to recommend red LEDs for a light that's unlikely to wake anyone up.
posted by trig at 4:14 PM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Forgive me if my eyes are just missing this, but are there outlets nearby or available in either scenario?
posted by sm1tten at 5:08 PM on September 17, 2020

This doesn’t really fit either the A or B scene, but this Vava nightlight is fantastic. It easily adjusts from very dim to quite bright, and the controls are very easy and intuitive (and easy to do in the dark). It charges via usb, and one charge lasts for weeks, so it’s very portable and works well to do things like hold it in a closet or in a drawer. The dimmer settings it don’t wake up my wife, though ymmv of course.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:22 PM on September 17, 2020

Sorry if this doesn't help, but you can still get dressed in your bedroom after laying your clothes out the night before. You'd need less light if you just have to make sure your shirt goes on top and your pants on your legs.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 6:28 PM on September 17, 2020

I was also going to suggest Hue lights. The lowest setting is pretty dim. We use it when one of us goes to bed before the other.
posted by Nolechick11 at 7:26 PM on September 17, 2020

Response by poster: sm1tten, outlet is available in scenario A but not B.
posted by bluloo at 7:38 PM on September 17, 2020

Just throwing out suggestions:

This Casper light only need an outlet to charge and looks like it adjusts down pretty dim. Aesthetically it's not... necessarily to everyone's taste.

For scenario A, if the light being on all night doesn't bother anyone maybe try a rotating/directional night light like this and pointing it downwards? I can't find the exact one I have, but it's pretty dim on it's own and to make it dimmer, you could cover it with a bit of washi tape.

Maybe a bit too much trouble but what about wearable book light?
posted by sm1tten at 8:28 PM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Just a warning, tappable LEDs are amazingly bright. Not a good option.

Would a incandescent-style (therefore dimmer) stickon light in the top of one of the drawers work? Pull out the drawer, tap on the light, dress?
posted by lhauser at 6:41 PM on September 18, 2020

Night light options: battery-operated Christmas lights (inside a vase), LED puck lights, LED flameless candles, fiber-optic lamps, clip-on gooseneck reading lamps, LED floating pool balls (which do not require water to operate). Have backups ready to use in case the primary sources go out.
Include some dim lighting at the baseboards so that your eyes do not have to adjust from shade to lighted areas.

Cover the light with a loose red scarf to make it dimmer and more sleep-friendly. Red lights help preserve night vision. Or get lights that have a red option.
Unshaded portions of the lightbulb may reflect off surfaces like eyeglasses, jewelry, watches, light-colored clothing, etc.
Be careful with fire hazards (LED bulbs do give off some heat). I would stay away from DIY covers made of plastic or paper, or anything that directly touches the bulb.

I use an Energizer LED headlamp with red light. The problem is that cycling through to the red light (or to turn it off) means going through the white light options.
No one mentioned noise, but the sound of lights clicking can also wake up your spouse. Ideally the night lights can stay on until your spouse is ready to turn them off.
posted by TrishaU at 4:14 PM on September 19, 2020

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