After a long day, there is nothing better than going to bed for some restful sleep.But many people struggle to fall asleep — and stay asleep — for a variety of reasons. From 50 to 70 million people in the US suffer from sleep disorders. According to the NCBI – 40% of people age 40 to 59 reported that they are getting less than the recommended amount of sleep. In same time, 37% of people between 20 and 39 years – old reported short sleep duration.
You might be stressed about an issue at work; worrying about a friend or family member; or just cannot stop your thoughts from running wild, just when you are supposed to be relaxing and drifting off into dreamland.
Another issue that keeps people from getting a good rest is less-than-ideal sleeping accommodations. A room that is too hot, too cold, or too bright can prevent you from falling or staying asleep and getting the rest you need.
One solution is to use an eye mask for sleeping to help block out extra light and create a sense of calmness, secure darkness that can make feeling relaxed and falling asleep easier. Sleeping 60 to 90 minutes more per night can make you happier and healthier, according to the American Psychology Association.
How sleep masks work
Eye masks or sleep masks work by blocking out artificial light. “Light, especially at night, can disrupt our internal biological ‘clock’ that helps to regulate our sleep-wake patterns,” says Dr. Wendy Troxel, Senior Behavioral Scientist at the RAND Corporation.
Exposure to artificial light suppresses melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone, which can lead to sleeping issues or disorders such as insomnia.
“Melatonin’s job is to signal to the brain that it is time to get sleepy, so light exposure, particularly at night,sends the wrong signal to the brain, which can profoundly disrupt one’s ability to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep,” Troxel explains.
Depending on where you live, this artificial light can include streetlights, ambient lights in the bedroom (such as light from a clock), and the biggest culprit for disrupted sleep: blue light from phones and electronic devices.Intrusive light can result in shallower periods of sleep. Eye masks help to block out this artificial light by acting as a shield. They realign your body’s internal body clock with the rising and setting of the sun.
Does a mask help fall asleep?
We have all tried to fall asleep on the train or on a flight and been kept awake by bright light. Using an eye mask that fits properly and blocks the light can let your eyes rest and help you disconnect from the outside world, allowing you to fall asleep and stay asleep. It comes with its own travel pouch and can provide instant relief from bright light on planes, trains, or any time you need to give your eyes a break. Eye masks are compatible with earplugs and earbuds, making it perfect for times when you need to sleep or just meditate or enjoy a moment of darkness and silence — even when you are in a crowded airport or in the office.
Benefits from a sleep mask
“Putting on an eye cover for sleep can be part of a calming bedtime routine that conditions your brain to recognize everything’s safe, calm and comfortable. Your routine tells the brain it’s time to shut off and let sleep come,”says sleep expert Samuel Gurevich, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic. Because sleep masks can help you fall asleep faster, they may increase the amount of sleep you get. Good quality sleep can improve your:
How to choose a sleep mask?
“It is a highly individualized decision. Some people like a soft, fuzzy surface. Others prefer a shiny one. There are also people who find good results from cooling or heating eye masks. Your sleep mask should not fit too tightly and remain comfortable even when you sleep on your side. Focus on what feels the best instead of what looks the best and you will find the right eye mask for you,” Dr. Gurevich says.
Sleep masks are available in a variety of shapes, size and materials. People need to find out what works best for them. A safe, calm environment is important for a good night’s rest, and blocking out light is part of that. Eye masks can help, especially if your normal sleeping time is during the day.