The Complete Guide to Sleep Masks and How They Improve Your Sleeping Pattern

What is a Sleep Mask, and How Does it Actually Work?

Sleeping is an essential activity for our health and well-being. While many things can affect the quality and quantity of our sleep, using a sleep mask might be one way to improve our slumber.

A sleep mask is an article of clothing worn over the eyes to block out light and help the wearer get better quality sleep.

We'll discuss the different types of sleep masks available, as well as how they can help you get the most out of your slumber. So if you're looking for an easy way to improve your sleep quality, keep reading.

In this article, we will talk about the following:

  • How often do I have to wash a sleep mask?
  • What is vital for good sleep?
  • Why is a sleep mask useful?
  • Which sleep masks are there?
  • What should I look for when buying a sleep mask?
  • How is the sleep mask attached?
  • What material are good sleep masks made of?
  • How often do I have to wash a sleep mask?
  • Tips and tricks on how to sleep better and fight insomnia

How a Sleep Mask Helps with 5 Amazing Use Cases

Here we have five great uses and benefits of wearing blackout sleeping masks.

Sleep masks allow you to fall asleep faster

Did you get confused while counting sheep? Wearing a sleep mask reduces the time you spend awake in bed and allows you to fall asleep faster. Since complete darkness increases melatonin levels in your body, you fall asleep much faster without tossing and turning. Isn't that a significant benefit? 

Sleep masks also increase the quality of sleep

You go through the complete sleep cycle several times in one night. At the end of the cycle, your sleep is especially light, which is why disturbances, such as light or noise, wake you up quickly. Because sleep masks keep light out, your melatonin levels stay high, and you can move on to the next sleep cycle without interruption.

Sleep masks allow you to sleep anywhere

You can't take your thick curtains with you everywhere - but you can always have your sleep mask with you. Long car rides, 10-hour flights, a day trip on the bus - after a short nap, you'll feel like you've been reborn. Since sleep masks can be folded up small, they fit in any bag when you're on the go.

Sleep masks help against jet lag

Do you travel between continents? Then a sleep mask is a valuable companion. Even before you leave, you can get your body used to the new time zone at home by sleeping at appropriate times. Of course, this may mean that you have to go to sleep earlier than usual, even though the sun is still shining outside. With a sleep mask, you can sleep when you want and adjust comfortably to your destination. You'll also sleep through the flight without being disturbed by the blinding screen of your seatmate. Combine the mask with headphones and quiet music, and you're good to go!

Sleep masks aid recovery

In a study conducted by Qom University of Medical Sciences in Iran, 60 heart patients were routinely treated. Half of them were given a sleep mask for three nights. The researchers determined that those who wore sleep masks slept better, so nurses were recommended to use sleep masks to improve patients' sleep quality.

How to attach the sleep mask?

You can choose a sleep mask that is fixed to the head with the help of an elastic band, an adjustable elastic strap, or a Velcro fastener.

How often do I have to wash a sleep mask?

This varies from mask to mask, so pay attention to the care instructions. In general, however, you should wash your sleep mask regularly, as it has close skin contact and absorbs sweat.

You won't go wrong if you hand wash your natural fiber mask lukewarm with a bit of detergent, squeeze it only gently and not crumpled, and let it dry on a towel. If you are on the road most of the time and wondering, "what is a good sleep mask for me?" look for models that can be ironed at low temperatures.

The best travel sleep mask is easy to maintain and can do away without washing often.

What is the Best Sleep Mask & Why Should You Get One?

Let's talk about the best sleeping masks for men, women, and children.

What kind of sleep masks are available?

The best sleep masks come in a variety of shapes, colors, and materials.

Cotton sleep masks feel pleasantly warm and soft on the skin. They absorb sweat and can be washed easily at 30 degrees. Good cotton eye masks come with silk padding.

A natural silk sleep mask made of mulberry silk is exceptionally breathable and especially suitable for people with dry eyes.

Another popular model is the curved sleep mask. They leave out the eye area, in particular, to not smudge artificial eyelashes or mascara during naps regardless of the sleep position you assume.

A sleep mask with an adjustable strap for the nostrils is designed with a bendable wire sewn into the nose area. This way, the eye mask can snuggle especially close to the skin to provide the proper light blockage.

Another great light-blocking model is the sleep masks with cooling pads that help against puffy eye areas. Depending on how cool you like it, store the soft, glasses-shaped cooling pads in the fridge or freezer, and slide them into the tab provided for use—ideal for summer power naps, puffy eyes, and headaches. 

Sleeping masks with heat pads, on the other hand, are not only good for blocking light but also help to relax, make you pleasantly tired and warm you up on cold winter nights.

A weighted sleep mask is another type of sleep mask it is filled with weights or beads to provide extra pressure on your face. The weighted sleep masks extra pressure is thought to help reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can lead to improved sleep quality.

What should I look for when buying a sleep mask?

Sleep masks are available in drugstores, pharmacies, and online. Unfortunately, you usually can't try them on for hygienic reasons. If you can, make sure that the mask fits tightly around the nose so that no light penetrates from "below." Otherwise, the optimal dark effect will be missing, and you'll constantly be jerking it around to optimize the fit, which isn't exactly conducive to falling asleep.

Tip: The mask should not be too short at the bottom. If you often have to sleep during the day, e.g., because of shift work, a sleep mask with an extra nostrils space is an excellent choice. 

Sleeping masks with Velcro are particularly easy to adjust to the circumference of your head. Ensure that the sleeping mask doesn't fit too tightly; otherwise, there is a risk of marks on the cheeks and forehead. However, with Velcro, there is a risk of long hair getting caught in it.

Elasticated straps are particularly suitable for stomach and side sleepers. If you sleep on your back, the band may press on the back of your head. The same applies to using the mask as a relaxation aid during yoga or meditation, e.g., during Shavasana. However, most models are not adjustable. If the mask fits well, however, they offer a stable fit.

Flat elastic bands with eyelets that allow you to adjust the length are often found on a silk eye mask. They allow individual adjustment and are hardly noticeable but slip more easily on straight hair.

If you wear artificial eyelashes, makeup and need the mask for a midday power nap, or if you need the feeling of batting your eyelashes under a sleep mask, you should opt for a model with a curved shape.

Some sleep masks come with storage pouches and earplugs. If you need the mask mainly for traveling, this offer is advantageous for you.

What Are the Benefits of Using The Right Sleep Mask?

The benefits of using a sleep mask extend beyond a good night's sleep. The sleep mask is useful if your bedroom can't be completely darkened, such as blackout curtains or blind. Or if you want to take a power nap at midday. Because if it's too bright in the bedroom, your body can't release the sleep hormone melatonin into the blood. However, this is important because this hormone, which is produced in the pineal gland, controls your body's day-night rhythm.

The pineal gland in your brain is connected to the optic nerve. When it's bright, it stops releasing the sleep hormone; instead, brightness causes more cortisol in your blood, the hormonal counterpart of melatonin, which keeps you awake. Without enough melatonin in the blood, everyone has a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. With a good sleep mask, you can influence your sleep-wake cycle by encouraging your body to release melatonin through the darkness.

How to use a sleeping mask for better results?

Apart from getting a good sleeping mask, you should follow these valuable tips on using it correctly so that you get the best possible sleep.  

Tips and tricks for falling asleep faster

Sometimes even though we may feel exhausted, we often can't fall asleep or we toss and turn in bed at night.

Everyone has probably experienced this: Maybe it's stress at work or eating too late. In any case, the necessary relaxation to fall asleep and stay asleep is missing.

Bring some fresh air into the bedroom!

Ventilate your bedroom thoroughly before going to bed. This brings more oxygen and cooler temperatures into the room, and both help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Experts recommend a room temperature of 15 - 17 ° Celsius - and then it becomes cozy between pillows and blankets!

Falling asleep with music or a book

Reading can make you sleepy. Before falling asleep, however, the artificial light from the TV, laptop, or smartphone should be avoided.

So how about reading a book? Unless you let yourself be captivated by it until late at night - then perhaps music will help you fall asleep? Pick out what you like to listen to, where you can clear your head, daydream and relax.

Nightcap

No, this does not mean alcohol! After drinking wine, champagne, or beer in the evening, it is often possible to fall asleep, but sleeping through the night is disturbed: we wake up, again and again, do not reach the deep sleep phases, or do so too infrequently, and cannot recover during sleep.

Drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee, cola, energy drinks, or black tea, should also be avoided if you have trouble falling asleep. Even cocoa and chocolate can stimulate, so you should avoid them from 3 p.m. at the latest.

Sour cherry juice can also have an extremely relaxing effect on the body. So if your stomach doesn't mind: give it a try and make sour cherry juice your new, healthy nightcap! Drinks with a relaxing effect include hot milk with honey or fruit tea.

Find your sleep rhythm

Sleeping habits are very individual. 

You should keep changes in your sleep-wake rhythm to a minimum.

Sleep with a plan and structure

Are you an organized person who likes to plan everything and have it under control? 

This can be tidying up the apartment, making a to-do list for the next day, getting your clothes ready, or writing down notes about experiences, ideas, thoughts, and plans.

This way, the nagging feeling of "Actually, I still have to..." or "I have to remember that ... tomorrow" disappears, and you can fall asleep relaxed.

Don't toss and turn for long: get up!

Sometimes, despite all the tips and tricks, we can't find our way to sleep. Then it doesn't help to toss and turn for more than 30 to 45 minutes and worry because you're not getting enough sleep.

Often the only option is to get out of bed and make use of the time you've "won" - even at three in the morning: do household chores if you can relax while doing so, and everyone else can go back to sleep. Read a book, solve Sudoku, crossword puzzles, or draw mandalas - anything relaxing until you get tired again. And only then go back to bed.

By the way, this also applies to getting more sleep on the weekend: If you want to continue sleeping in the morning after waking up naturally, turn over and try to fall back asleep in the next 30 to 45 minutes - don't give up after just ten minutes! Only if it just won't work, get up and enjoy your "longer" day.

Soak in a hot bath!

A hot bath in the evening can work wonders because it makes you tired. Get into the hot bathtub one to two hours before going to bed, and you'll feel it afterward: the drop in body temperature makes you sleepy.

The important thing is that you go to bed afterward and don't start any new activities. The hot bath should conclude your day.

Will a full stomach trouble your night?!

Although sumptuous food makes you tired, it hinders falling asleep and staying asleep. To not burden your sleep unnecessarily, you should only eat light meals in the evening. You can follow this simple rule: The later you eat something, the lighter it should be. Small, light snacks like yogurt, cheese, or crackers are more likely to help you fall asleep.

There should be about two to three hours between bedtime and your last meal. If the gap is too long, you could get hungry again - and that will disturb your sleep just as much as eating too heavy a meal.

Give up nicotine!

Smoking has countless side effects and is also a reason for sleep disorders. This is because nicotine reaches the brain just a few seconds after taking a drag on a cigarette and triggers stimulating reactions there. Thus, the "cigarette to fall asleep" puts the body into a state of readiness for action instead of relaxation, and it becomes more difficult to fall asleep.

Even more decisive is that the transition into the deep sleep phases is more difficult in smokers, and the phases themselves are shorter. Under the influence of nicotine, you recover and regenerate much less during sleep.

Take care of yourself!

These tips can help you, especially with harmless sleep disorders, which occur from time to time in all of us. However, if you feel permanently affected, for example, by increased daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, or breathing stops, you should consult your physician.

Conclusion: Achieve Better Slumber With a Sleep Mask

Good sleep is always crucial, not just in times of crisis like now. With sleep masks, you can lay an essential foundation for better slumber at night, ensuring you are full of beans in the day!

Read also our article about "How a Sleep Mask Can Help You Get Your Best Sleep Ever"!

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