Sleep masks may seem like a silly accessory to some, but there are multiple reasons people enjoy using them to achieve a higher quality rest. In our industrialized world, we are often exposed to artificial light for long periods; this can be incredibly disruptive to our circadian rhythms, but wearing a sleep mask could help you tune out disruptions and turn off your brain.
Staring at a computer screen all day, frequently checking smartphones, and enduring a significant amount of stress can meddle with your rest. To assist, we’ve compiled 8 benefits of wearing a sleep mask to help you block out stimuli, and let your brain recharge.
Does Pitch Black Darkness Create Better Sleep?
The infusion of smart devices into our lives rarely leaves us an opportunity to disconnect. With our brains exposed to high amounts of blue light from electronics, winding down at night can be a challenge, but a sleep mask could help.
Research has shown that pre-industrialized societies don't necessarily sleep more; they sleep better. Without modern technology like electricity, they live free of artificial light. These findings lead us to believe that our slumber issues may have more to do with darkness than anything else so creating a darker slumber environment by using an eye mask could be just the trick.
Sleeping Mask Benefits
Personally, I sleep with a mask every night; I started using one during my college years to help me recover hours lost due to all-nighters. I can vouch for the benefits first hand, and after further researching the subject, I'll share how it can help you achieve better rest.
Looking to learn more? Read our full guide for best sleep masks here.
Extend Your REM Cycle
Being continuously exposed to artificial light can profoundly mess with your circadian rhythm. Exposure to bright light signals to your brain that it's time to wake up, not wind down for bed. Using a face mask to darken our environment can help us communicate to our brains that it's time for rest and even lengthen our rem cycle— allowing for more time to achieve deeper rest.
Minimize Sleep Interruptions
Using a mask at night can help block out disturbances. Whether you have a partner who works odd hours, you need to sleep till mid-morning to make up for late-night study sessions, or often take a nap in the afternoon to recharge, covering your eyes to block out bright light can help your brain tune out disruptions. Additionally, the mere habit of wearing it nightly could communicate to your body that when the mask goes on, it's time for bed.
Protect Your Skin
Besides the fact that masks can help you get better rest— and therefore fuel your skin with the energy it needs to glow— anti-aging masks can help promote better skin by protecting the delicate areas around your eyes. It's wise to opt for 100% cotton or natural silk and wash it regularly. Some have infused nutrients known to prevent wrinkles and aging if you're willing to spend a bit more money on specialized products.
Treating Dry Eyes
Dry Eye Disease, or DED, as it's commonly referred to in the optometry sphere, is a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment. When your eyes aren't working correctly, they can be treated with massage and heat. Specific masks can be heated in a microwave and worn over the eyes to alleviate symptoms, pain and treat the condition. However, if you believe you're suffering from DED, it's critical to consult a physician first.
Handy Solution While Traveling
If you've ever stayed at a friend's for the weekend or travel frequently, you may have struggled to get enough shuteye. Fortunately, a mask can help soothe micro-disruptions and irregular environments. Not only does the habit of wearing a mask help communicate to your brain that it's time to wind down, but it's an excellent solution when looking for some peace and regularity while sleeping in new environments.
Relieve Migraine Pain
Individuals who struggle with migraines are typically more sensitive to light and often complain about bright light exacerbating pain during an attack. Experiencing an attack during daylight hours could be a problem, and resting in a dark room remains a frequent self-care method. A night mask could be a great accessory to help soothe your head when experiencing a migraine and bring darkness when necessary.
Weighted Models and Calming Effects
Pressure and weight can have a profound soothing quality. Think of a warm hug from someone with whom you're close; this is similar to why babies doze better when they're swaddled, as it helps them feel secure and calm, mimicking the feeling of being wrapped up in the womb.
We're still unsure why humans enjoy touch, but touch is undoubtedly necessary for our survival and mental health, and a weighted mask could help illicit this effect.
Masks and Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has gained a lot of traction of late, and for a good reason, scent can have a significant impact on our moods and wellbeing. Lavender, in particular, is known for aiding in relaxation, and studies have shown that when paired with good sleep hygiene, lavender can be tremendous in gaining quality shuteye.
Masks are available with various scent infusions, and buying one with lavender or other scent known for sleep should help you achieve better rest.
Are There Any Negative Effects?
There are not many adverse effects to wearing an eye mask, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
One issue to watch out for is how tight you wear your mask strap around your head. Wearing a strap that's too tight could create a rash due to excessive rubbing or lead to blurry vision when lifted.
Additionally, it's wise to wash your mask often, just as you would anything else you wear regularly. Our bodies collect dirt and germs during the day, and most of us sweat a bit during the night, so you'll want to freshen up your product as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do sleep masks help prevent wrinkles?
Silk is known to be better for skin than cotton, and since we often doze on cotton pillowcases, a silk eye mask could help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The silk itself may not make a tremendous difference, but the softer texture could be better when compared to cotton as it's less likely to tug on your skin.
What's the best material for a sleep mask?
When shopping for an eye cover, keep in mind the reason you're buying the product. If you're buying it to increase darkness and aid in sleep hygiene, most fabrics should be suitable, like cotton, silk, or polyester. However, if you're looking to prevent wrinkles or want something scent-infused, you may want something more specially suited.
Can I use it every night?
You can use your eye cover every night; that's what it's there for! However, like anything else, you'll want to be sure you wash it regularly to minimize germs, dirt and to protect your skin and eyes. As long as you're taking care of your product, you should enjoy more rejuvenating sleep nightly.
Eye Masks are a great way to influence your sleep patterns, and many of us struggle with getting enough quality rest while living in a hyper-competitive society. A mask's ability to increase darkness and dull the excitement of a vibrant lifestyle after a hectic day could help make significant improvements to our sleep hygiene.
Additionally, these handy products could help mitigate issues while traveling, maximize your REM cycle, provide calming effects, and even prevent aging. Rest is an imperative component to living healthy lives, and a sleep mask could be just the trick to help you take control of your sleep health.
Rachael is a content writer for Sleep Advisor who loves combining her enthusiasm for writing and wellness. She’s had a passion for writing since she was a kid when she wrote awful poetry. She’s honed her craft quite a bit since then and considers herself a lucky duck to get paid to do what she loves.
Embracing the remote work life, she occasionally takes her work on the road and lives out her travel writer pipe dream.
In her free time, she attempts to meditate regularly, rides her bike to Trader Joe’s, and enjoys trying every type of food that she can get her hands on.