When it comes to getting a better night's sleep, are eye masks a potential solution or are they merely a gimmick for accessory addicts? We at eve hq felt it was our duty to find out.
Some of us lean on ensuring their bedrooms are at the optimal sleep temperature. Others swear by wearing a pair of earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to keep noise disturbance to a minimum. And some wouldn’t climb between the sheets without slipping on an eye mask at bedtime.
But while eye masks are completely stylish, are there any actual advantages to them? Beyond their obvious visual appeal, of course. Let’s learn more!
What to think about when buying an eye mask for sleep
Ahead of exploring the benefits, we wanted to find out whether there are any particulars we need to have in find when shopping for a sleep eye mask. And boy, are there!
For a start, you’ll need an eye mask that’s made from natural fibres such as cotton or silk. Natural fibres are soft to the touch. And this means they’re gentler on your skin. Synthetic sleep masks, such as polyester, on the other hand are more likely to disrupt your sleep. As you sleep, you may become uncomfortable or itchy. And given that synthetic fibres are less breathable than natural ones, they’re more likely to trap heat which could lead to sleep disruption. Not to mention unwanted blemishes! (1)
Next up, find a good fit! Think about where the strap will lie on your head, your preferred sleep position, and what size eye mask would be most appropriate! Those with sensitive ears and those who prefer to sleep on their side need to search for a mask featuring a strap designed to sit above their ears to avoid any discomfort caused by additional pressure. And for those who tend to move from one position to the next all night long, a tighter-fitting eye mask with an adjustable strap would be more appropriate. But remember not to choose a mask that’s too tight either! This will only hinder sleep comfort. (2)
Finally, remember that practicality is key! Your sleep mask will need to be washed regularly too. You wouldn’t want bacteria to build up and cause blemishes after all. So, choosing a sleep mask that is machine washable is a must! Then, just remember to wash your sleep mask in line with your pjs and you’ll be fine!
Are there any benefits to wearing an eye mask while you sleep?
There are plenty of claims that wearing an eye mask is beneficial to your sleep quality! But, what’s the truth of the matter? We’ve done some digging to find out.
Protect your skin while you sleep
If you’re a toss and turn kind of gal (or guy), you should realise that in this tossing and turning, you’re rubbing your skin against your pillows and bedsheets. And so, it stands to reason that donning an eye mask at bedtime can add a protective barrier to the delicate facial skin around your eyes. It can help to reduce friction damage to your skin barrier while you sleep. (3)
Can ease tension
For those who hold tension in their face or suffer frequent headaches could ease those symptoms with weighted eye masks. Weighted eye masks (much like weighted blankets) usually contain small microbeads. These microbeads deliver a comfortable level of compression that have the potential to help you to relax while trying to drop off at night. (4)
Improve sleep while travelling
If you wear a sleep mask at home, you absolutely must take it with you on your travels too! It will help you readjust to new time zones, mattresses, and sleep situations more quickly so that your sleep doesn’t suffer any more than it needs to by offering a feeling of normality. But for those who don’t ordinarily wear eye masks in bed, an eye mask could still be a good choice when travelling. Using an eye mask on a plane (especially on those long-haul flights) will help you block out light disturbances and get some shut eye to speed up the journey. (5)
A reduction in puffy skin appearances
A weighted eye mask applies physical pressure to your skin while you’re sleeping. And this pressure can actually help to reduce the excess fluid which is a major contributing factor in that puffy appearance! What’s more, if the suitcases under your eyes are a result of the puffiness, a weighted sleep mask has the potential to improve the appearance of those dreaded dark circles too. Win-win! (6)
Eye masks could increase the levels of REM sleep you achieve
Given that eye masks block out any light disturbances, in general they are viewed as an accessory that can improve sleep all-round (7). Given that you should see the amount of sleep interruptions you suffer while wearing one reduce, there’s a good chance this could lead to more REM sleep which is the sleep stage during which most of our dreaming takes place. REM sleep is key as it stimulates the areas of the brain that cope with our capacity to learn and our ability to create new and recall existing memories (8).
Could help you fall asleep faster
Our surroundings have the ability to prevent us from being able to fall asleep. External factors that are outside of our control (such as glaring streetlamps) are great at keeping us awake. But with a sleep mask, you can achieve complete and total darkness wherever you are whenever you like. And darkness is the optimal setting for sleep thanks to our circadian rhythms (9). So, if you regularly struggle to fall asleep efficiently, a sleep mask is an affordable and accessible tool to try. Plus, eye masks for sleep are way less pricey than blackout curtains and blinds!
How about the downsides?
Are there any downsides we need to be aware of when considering wearing an eye mask for sleep?
From our research, we have garnered that the only downsides that are linked to wearing an eye mask while sleeping are a result of wearing one that is ill-fitting or made from synthetic fibres. So, if you’re considering purchasing a sleep mask to see whether it could improve your sleep quality, bear this in mind!
Some of the common complaints include:
- Uncomfortable for some people. Sleep masks just aren’t for everyone. Some people find them so uncomfortable that they actually hinder their ability to fall asleep.
- You need to get used to them. Give your sleep mask time before ruling it out of the running for the title of most valued sleep aid. You won’t put on a sleep mask, instantly fall asleep and wake 8 hours later feeling fresh as a daisy. It would be great if that’s what did happen though wouldn’t it? Try it for a week or so before you decide whether or not it’s a good fit for your sleep preferences.
- Temporary blurred vision. Some people complain of blurred vision when they wake up after wearing an eye mask. While this is only temporary, it can be scary! In cases such as these, the sleeper may find that a contoured eye mask or one featuring built-in convex eye cups is a better fit. These allow your eyes and lashes a little bit of breathing space beneath the mask (10).
- Overheating. If you’re prone to being too hot when you sleep, you might find that a sleep mask is a source of yet more heat. Luckily, cooling eye masks are another viable option you could consider. If you’re committed to finding the perfect sleep mask for your needs, that is (11).
- Skin irritation. Choosing synthetic eye masks for sleep reduces fabric breathability. This can lead to skin irritation or unwanted blemishes, especially for those with particularly sensitive skin. Look for eye masks created using natural fabrics such as cotton or silk for enhanced breathability. This should reduce the risk of a sleep mask resulting in skin irritation!