Why You Should Consider Getting Yourself a Sleep Mask
Not getting enough restful sleep? You’d be surprised what a difference a sleep mask could make. You might take for granted that the point of a sleeping mask is to completely block out any surrounding light, but it actually serves a purpose much greater than that. When your brain recognizes that you’re in total darkness, it begins producing higher amounts of melatonin, the hormone that guides you to sleep.
Biologically speaking, modern humans are designed to sync our sleeping cycles in line with the amount of sunlight outside. So back in the days before artificial light, nightclubs, and Netflix, we would return to our caves for a night of shuteye. But technology and all of these after-dark options have wreaked havoc on our natural clocks. As a result, having the sunlight shine in our eyes in the morning isn’t always the most pleasant way to be woken up. But if you’ve got a sleep mask handy, this is never a problem.
A 2009 study conducted by Chinese scientists found that subjects who wore sleep masks and earplugs as they slept were less inclined to wake up through the night, had higher levels of melatonin, and experienced more deep sleeping time versus those who didn’t.
Sleep Masks Are Perfect Travel Companions
Catching a red eye? Going on a long bus, car, or train ride? Do you feel a bit uneasy sleeping in an unfamiliar bedroom? None of these experiences are very pleasant, especially if you’re forced to sleep sitting up in the passenger seat. The simple and convenient solution is to bring along a sleep mask. Aside from these examples, a sleep mask is also effective when you’re traveling across time zones and having to consciously regulate your sleep schedule.
Comfort is Key
A good sleep mask must be made out of soft, breathable, washable material so that your eyes and skin don’t feel irritated. You also want to make sure the mask fits you properly, with the strap neither being too loose that it falls below the eyes or too tight as to make it uncomfortable.
Test the mask out before you buy it. Can your eyes detect any light when you put it on? If so, opt for a mask that is larger and one that contours to the shape of your face. Alternatively, you could look for a mask that contains a flap that extends beyond the bridge of your nose.
Feeling a bit anxious about the prospect of having a mask rub up against your eyes or eyelash extensions? No worries, just get one with space so that you feel nothing when you open your eyes.
Choose Practicality over Cuteness
You may be drawn to that fluffy, colorful mask with the unicorn eyes, but if it doesn’t do the job properly, it’s basically worthless. The sole purpose of a sleep mask is to allow you to block out all light and sleep in comfort, not to make a fashion statement.
Give a Cold Mask a Try
Are you prone to tired, puffy eyes after a long journey? There are actually cold eye masks that help remedy this problem. How does it work? A cold mask constricts blood vessels around the eyes, slowing down the flow of fluid into the skin tissues, which in turn leaves your eyes looking well-rested. It certainly beats bringing cucumber slices and cold tea bags aboard the plane!
Is wearing a sleep mask a bridge too far for you? There are other options worth trying:
Lavender and Flax Pillow
This is practically like bringing a luxurious spa onto a bus, train, plane, or the passenger side of a car. When you warm one of these babies up, it releases a pleasant lavender scent. It’s also lightweight and soft, providing you with an amazing restful experience. The mere thought almost makes us want to book an 8-hour bus ride somewhere, just anywhere!
A lot of dudes for whom a sleep mask is a hard pass prefer to simply use their pillow to block out the light and commotion. It might not be the best choice for traveling, but it sounds like a pretty good idea when you need some shuteye in the afternoon.
When desperate times call for desperate measures, a blanket can serve as a makeshift sleep mask. If it is thick enough, it really can block out a lot of the light. Just make sure you can still breathe!