Light and Sleep: The Benefits of a Sleep Mask
If you’re looking for a way to improve your sleep, using an eye mask may work for you. These sleep accessories are very popular, but how do they work and what is the most effective eye mask? TEMPUR® answers these questions to help you on your way to sleeping better.
DOES LIGHT AFFECT SLEEP?
Light is an important external factor that can affect sleep. Exposure to light early in the day stimulates the body and mind, encouraging feelings of wakefulness, alertness, and energy. However, exposure to light at night will have the same effect on the body, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
Light exposure can cause our biological clock to advance or delay, which messes with our sleep cycle. This could result in you not being able to reach REM sleep, which is the part of the sleep cycle which gives your body the most rest.
An insufficient amount of darkness through the night can lead to frequent and prolonged awakenings, which also influences our sleep cycle.
HOW DOES A SLEEP MASK WORK?
Sleep masks are effective as they trick your brain into believing it is time for sleep. This occurs because when it gets dark, more melatonin is produced, and your body starts to think it’s time for bed, resulting in you feeling sleepier.
TYPES OF SLEEP MASKS
There are many types of sleep mask which can help you sleep better, a few examples of which we have included here.
Sleep masks with cooling gel inserts can help reduce puffiness, while masks with rounded eye patches help to protect long eyelashes from being squashed against the eye mask as you sleep. Weighted sleep masks use weight to lightly press on key pressure points on your face to help you fall into a deeper sleep, which will result in you feeling more refreshed and rested in the morning. Finally, sleep masks which are infused with essential oils or charcoal can reduce puffiness, tension and fatigue around the eyes.
So, with such a large variety of sleep masks to choose from, what kind of eye mask should you look for? The number one priority is an eye mask that blocks light effectively. To ensure that it does this, it needs to properly fit your face. Choosing a face mask that has a fabric that feels comforting to you such as silk, velvet, faux fur or fleece is also essential.
Any other features are nice additions and may help you fall asleep faster; but the two most important features of an effective sleep mask are the material and protection against light exposure, as these will make the biggest difference to your sleep.
SLEEP MASK BENEFITS
Sleep masks are a great alternative to more conventional sleep aids, as a result of them being chemical-free. They also minimise distractions as you are unable to see what is going on around you, assisting your body to fall asleep faster, as there is nothing keeping your mind alert.
Sleep masks might even prevent dry eyes as they act as a barrier between your eyes and the air while you sleep.
These masks aren’t the only way you can improve your sleep. Other changes in your sleep accessories can also make a difference, such as changing your mattress and pillows. These changes make a significant positive impact on sleep as they help to create a bed with optimum comfort. You could also try relaxing your mind and body by reading a book before bed, or drinking herbal tea. This comfort allows your body to properly rest and assists you to get a good night’s sleep.
Do you use a sleep mask to help you drop off to sleep? What is your go-to sleep mask? Let us know in the comments below…