Sleep masks or blackout eye masks can seriously boost your ability to get a good night's sleep. These light blocking masks are a common sight on red-eye flights, but they can also help you sleep better at home.
The best sleep mask could prove just as helpful as a Tempur-Pedic mattress or other high-tech sleep helpers.
In this article, we'll explain why creating a dark sleeping environment is so important and how blackout eye masks, eye covers, and other light-blocking techniques can help you get better shut-eye.
What's the Deal With Light Exposure at Night?
To understand why sleeping masks are so important, let’s dive into some science that explains why even small light intrusions make it so much more difficult for us to sleep.
From the get-go, exposure to light before bed makes it harder to fall asleep. But even after you fall asleep, the presence of light can disrupt your body's melatonin production and your circadian rhythm, keeping you from getting restful sleep.
Whenever light enters the eye, it sends a signal to the brain that tells it what time of day it is. The brain uses this information to tell the body whether it's time to get up or go to sleep.
Our constant exposure to technology before bed means we don’t fall asleep at the same times our ancestors did. Falling asleep to reruns of “The Office” may give you a few extra laughs, but the artificial light is going to disrupt your sleep quality.
Anything other than total darkness can negatively impact your sleep. This is especially relevant for people living in a densely populated city with bright street lights and digital billboards shining in through their window shades. Not to mention other nuisances — like if your kids decide to shine a flashlight in your face “for fun”.
Anyone experiencing jet lag or doing shift work is especially prone to low-quality sleep because they need to sleep during the day when there is way more natural light. This light exposure throws off your body's internal clock and makes it harder for you to transition between REM and non-REM sleep cycles.
Creating a dark environment (think: your own personal cave) is a must for getting good sleep — and a sleep mask can be a true game changer in this endeavor.
How a Sleep Mask Makes a Difference
Wearing a sleep mask is one of the best ways to block light while you are trying to sleep. When used properly, a blackout eye mask will block just about every possible source of light — even the glow of your spouse scrolling through Facebook at one o'clock in the morning.
Essentially, your sleep mask acts like a super-powered blindfold that keeps you from seeing light which in turn gives you a deeper sleep. Deep sleep reduces your risk for disease, obesity, depression, and other health problems.
Of course, not all sleeping masks are created equal. Here are some important features to look for when purchasing a sleep masks:
- Blackout features: If your eye mask doesn't block out 100% of light disturbances, you might as well not even bother. The tiniest bit of light can mess up your sleep quality (even with your eyes shut), so make sure your mask truly is blackout.
- Adjustable strap: This may not seem like a big deal at first, but if your mask doesn't come with an adjustable strap, it could slip off during the night and let light in, rendering it useless. This is especially true for side sleepers and restless sleepers. A velcro or elastic strap will improve comfort and fit. A comfortable sleep mask is just as important as one that provides total darkness.
- Eye cups: This harder-to-find mask feature lets your eyes go untouched, rather than having the fabric press against them. This results in a more breathable sleep mask that doesn't feel like it's going to squish your face. You'll be less likely to get dry or puffy eyes this way too. You won't have to worry about your mask ruining your eyelash extensions either.
- The right materials: Comfortable materials go a long way in determining whether you can sleep with a mask on. A foam and jersey fabric mask or silk sleep mask offers complete comfort that won't irritate your skin. It never hurts to check if your mask is machine washable and hypoallergenic too.
What Else Can You Do To Decrease the Light in Your Bedroom?
A sleep mask isn’t your only option for blocking out light so you can get a good snooze. Start by rethinking your bedtime routine.
A good starting point is to have a "no screens" rule in the bedroom. Yes, tearing yourself away from your smartphone may feel like cutting off a limb, but limiting your exposure to blue light before bed is one of the most important things you can do to get better sleep.
Even when you've decided you're done with your phone for the night, your screen can still light up with notifications while you're asleep. It may seem like a small thing, but that's more than enough light to disrupt your sleep.
While we're on the topic of artificial light, don't forget about the overhead lights in your room. Because they tend to be fairly bright, they can make it harder to fall asleep at night. You can help your body realize it's time for bed by using dimmer ambient light sources instead of an overhead light. For example, a small bedside reading lamp is a great lighting alternative.
If you live in a brightly lit area or need to sleep during the day, add blackout curtains to your bedroom. Some blackout curtains block 100% of light, so your room will be completely dark no matter what it’s like outside.
Don't forget the gap under your door. Sure, it may seem a bit extreme to place a towel along the bottom of your door, but if you live with roommates who keep crazy hours or if you’re staying in a hotel, plugging the gap will block both light and noise. A good pair of earplugs might help too.
Whether your dark closet gives you the heebie-jeebies or you need some extra light to guide you to the bathroom at 2 a.m., plugging a night light into the wall still adds a source of light in your bedroom. Use motion-sensor night lights instead of lights that are on all the time if you get up during the night.
When you combine all these light-blocking tricks with a quality sleep mask, you'll have perfect darkness for a great night's sleep.
Experience Bedtime Bliss With a Blackout Eye Mask
Exposure to light — any light — can have a surprisingly big impact on the quality of your sleep. By wearing a sleep mask and taking a few extra steps to block out light, you’ll be able to enjoy deeper sleep and feel better rested in the morning.
When it comes to sleep masks, the Hush Blackout Eyemask can't be beat. This amazing face mask offers:
- 100% blackout to protect your sleep patterns
- Adjustable eye cups to keep the fabric from pressing against your eye area
- Eye cups that velcro onto the mask, so you can place them wherever you need to better fit your face.
- Thin straps for side sleepers
- Adjustable straps in the back
- A mesh bag for machine washing
- No-pull velcro that won’t tug your hair
- Super soft fabric and a contoured shape for extra comfort
Can you sleep with a mask on? With the Hush Blackout Eyemask, let us prove to you that the answer is an emphatic YES. You can see for yourself — we’re so sure you’ll love it that we offer a 100-night guarantee. It's the perfect accompaniment to our weighted blankets — together, they’ll help you get the best sleep of your life.