Just when you are about to doze off, you are suddenly exposed to light because someone turned on the light switch. And poof, you don’t feel sleepy anymore. This can get quite annoying.
To get a good night’s sleep, you must have a totally dark room. But this is not always possible, especially if you sleep with someone who likes to sleep with the lights on; or when you are traveling, and you do not have much control over how dark your surroundings are. This is when eye masks come in handy.
How Do Eye Masks or Sleep Masks Work?
Melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone in the body, is suppressed when you are exposed to artificial light. Using an eye mask or sleep mask is one helpful way to block out artificial light that prevents you from falling asleep. The basic idea of a sleep mask is simply to block any light from reaching your eyes when you are trying to sleep. When you are exposed to light while trying to sleep, it confuses your circadian rhythm—the body’s 24hr internal clock responsible for regulating sleep patterns.
Sleep masks have been proven to help improve your overall quality of sleep. For most people, the gentle pressure gives them a calm feeling which allows them to doze off faster. There are eye masks that also cover your ears so they can block both light and sound. There is an adjustable sleep mask that effectively helps you fall into a deep slumber.
What Are the Benefits of Sleep Masks?
Improve Sleep Quality
Naturally, our brains are hard-wired into linking darkness with sleep, so they produce more melatonin when they sense an absence of light.
But, too much exposure to light at night can mess up our circadian rhythms. The disturbing artificial light comes in various forms as you try to sleep—the lights are on in the hallway of the house, the beaming streetlights that sneak around your curtains, the television, and worse, the blue light released by your cellphone—which you hold close to your face.
Introducing a sleep mask to your bedtime routine may also help you fall asleep faster. Nothing is worse than lying in bed, counting sheep until you fall asleep. We have all been there, but it just won’t work most of the time.
When you’re having difficulties falling asleep, it’s easy to succumb to the temptation to check your phone every few minutes. You tend to check what time it is, and then you find yourself scrolling through your social media. When wearing a sleep mask, it is uneasy about glancing at and checking your phone.
Can Help Relieve Headaches
One of the most common aspects of chronic migraines is light sensitivity or photophobia. In the middle of the day, when sunlight makes it difficult to find a dark place to recuperate, migraines can be particularly debilitating.
With the help of a sleep mask, you can recuperate no matter where you are. Even at work, when you need to take a break from the light glare on your computer, a sleep mask helps relieve the advancing migraine.
Safer Alternative to Sleeping Pills
Sleeping pills have been widely used by most people who have trouble sleeping. But these pharmaceutical sleep inducers, even over-the-counter ones, can be addictive and have side effects. In addition, there is a risk of overdose. Studies have shown that sleeping pills are one of the many causes of a mortal overdose—either accidental or intentional.
Sleep masks, on the other hand, are a very safe alternative to standardized sleep aids and are just as effective.
They May Help Prevent Dry Eyes
Heater and cooling units, while they have their benefits, can dry out the air causing you to wake up with dry and irritated eyes.
And while humidifiers can keep the balance by bringing back moisture, they are often expensive. A sleep mask may keep your eyes hydrated by trapping the water around and in your eyes.
Also, people with nocturnal lagophthalmos—the inability to close their eyes fully when they sleep, can benefit from sleep masks. People who have this condition can experience extremely dry eyes and, worse, may suffer permanent damage. By creating a closed environment around the eye, sleep masks can help cushion this. Keep in mind that many people using highly breathable sleep masks might not be a good option for people with nocturnal lagophthalmos. They may ask their doctors to choose a sleep mask specifically designed to help with eye hydration.
Can Protect the Skin Around Your Eyes
You may find it funny to see those odd impressions of your wrinkled pillowcase on your face when you wake up, but you won’t be laughing when those wrinkles develop into real ones over time. Crow’s feet can develop because the side of your face is compressed when you sleep on your side or stomach. Sleep masks help protect the sensitive features around your eyes while you sleep.