HOW DO EYE MASKS HELP YOU SLEEP?
The basic premise of a sleep mask is very simply to block any light from reaching your eyes. Exposure to light when you’re trying to sleep confuses your circadian rhythm, the body’s 24-hour internal clock that regulates sleep patterns.
Our circadian rhythms are essentially set by light. If you have even very small amounts of light in your bedroom you’re pretty much telling your body it’s daytime, which means don’t sleep, and you actually inhibit the production of the sleep promoting hormone melatonin.”
WHO SHOULD TRY A SLEEP MASK?
Chances are, almost everyone can likely benefit from going to sleep with an eye mask on. In particular, a sleep mask may be useful for anybody who:
- Suffers from insomnia
- Is a light sleeper
- Works night shifts or has to sleep during the day
- Travels frequently
BENEFITS OF SLEEP MASKS
A study reports that those wearing a sleep mask show substantial improvements in their sleep and next-day recovery. On average, their total time asleep increases by 27 minutes, they see a 2% gain in REM sleep, and their recovery is boosted by 9%.
These stats were found to be generally consistent across all age groups, and for both men and women. Analysis of those wearing a night mask also considered possible confounding factors as well, meaning other behaviors to help sleep were controlled, like wearing blue-light blocking glasses or reading before bed.
Beyond more time asleep, increased REM sleep, and better recovery, here are 5 additional benefits of sleep masks:
Stop distractions and prevent you from viewing screened devices in bed. You’re not going to look at your phone or turn on the TV if you’ve got a mask on.
Cheap and easy. A sleep mask costs a lot less than blackout curtains and is much simpler than trying to eliminate all sources of light around you.
Travel well. You might have complete darkness in your bedroom at home, but that can be extremely difficult to replicate anywhere else you sleep.
Improve dry itchy eyes. Covering your eyes may prevent them from being exposed to dust, dry air, or other potential irritants.
Protect your skin. Over time, a mask can help preserve the delicate skin around your eyes and stave off wrinkles.
WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR IN A SLEEP MASK
In order to get the most out of a sleep mask, it’s important to find the right one for you. Here are some key characteristics to look for:
- Make sure you find it comfortable, easy to wear, and that it doesn’t bother you if you have sensitive skin
- Check to see that it blocks out ALL light
- Avoid masks that feel too tight–an adjustable strap may be useful
- Get one that fits your sleeping style (for example, one that won’t slide off or put pressure on your face if you sleep on your side.)
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