Maybe you’ve noticed that in many television shows, the characters often go to bed with a sleep mask, otherwise known as an eye mask, covering their eyes. Would it surprise you to know that this portrayal is actually more than just a television habit?
The truth is that sleep masks can help create the ideal conditions for getting real rest while you sleep. The reasoning behind this is simple: total darkness. Your body is designed to sleep in complete darkness. The main hormone involved with inducing sleep, melatonin, is inhibited by light.
That means the longer you are exposed to bright lights (cell phones, television, lamps, overhead lights) before you go to bed, the harder it will be for your brain and body to transition into a healthy sleeping rhythm. When you create a sleeping environment with total darkness, your sleep will come faster and its quality will be better.
It’s not only your actual sleep that is affected by the level of darkness, though. Light exposure while you’re sleeping has been proven to cause increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. So if you’re sleeping in an environment that is not completely dark, you are increasing your chances of developing health problems which are related to high levels of cortisol.
The reality is that we all need sleep. Modern life has skewed what we believe is ‘enough’ or ‘proper’ sleep. Your body needs long periods of uninterrupted deep sleep. Sleep is not as simple as it seems. It is not just a time for your body to rest after your long day. Your brain is extremely active while you sleep. Some of its most important processes to keep you functioning correctly take place while you sleep. So you can imagine what happens when you are not getting good quality sleep: you are not functioning as well as possible!
So the main and most important to think about using a sleep mask in your everyday routine is because it will promote a healthier sleeping pattern. It’s not just your process of falling asleep that is disrupted by presence of light. Your whole sleep cycle will be affected when you are not sleeping in total darkness. A healthy sleep cycle is one of the most important factors in your well-being and keeping your body and mind balanced to avoid issues such as depression.
If you decide to start using a sleep mask, be prepared to wear it every night. While you may notice that you slept a bit better after one night with a sleep mask, after an accumulation of time, you will notice positive differences in many areas of your sleep and functioning. You will likely start to dream more and to remember your dreams more vividly. Your waking hours will be improved because you will feel more rested and alert during the day.
Think about the level of convenience it will add to your life. There will times when you’re traveling or you find yourself sleeping in an environment that is not familiar to you. Generally, this can be very detrimental to maintaining your individual sleep patterns. Maybe you work at night and sleep during the day, making it really difficult to create a room that’s totally dark. If you are in the habit of using a sleep mask, however, then any situation or environment you find yourself can be neutralized by wearing your sleep mask.
Total darkness is not the only benefit to using a sleep mask every night, though. If you need more convincing, consider the fact that wearing a sleep mask at night can prevent unnecessary damage to your skin. Yes, your skin can be damaged while you’re sleeping! From tossing and turning and rubbing your face on your pillow all night, imprints are often left. Although you don’t always see them when you wake up, they often stay on your face for hours at a time. In the long run, this can lead to wrinkles and other permanent skin damage.
If you wear a sleep mask, the very vulnerable skin around your eyes is protected from too much moving around and imprinting. Even a standard sleep mask will do a great job protecting your skin from extra damage, not to mention that there are many types of sleep masks that are created to provide other specific skin benefits in addition to total darkness.
Now that you’ve learned why you should use a sleep mask, it’s time to get out there and start searching for one that will suit your needs. Remember, you want to wear your sleep mask each and every day for optimal improvements in your sleep and functioning. So make sure you spend time looking for a sleep mask that you will feel comfortable with wearing each night. There are many types and variations of sleep masks to choose from, but even a simple and standard design will do. Keep the light out and you will find yourself sleeping like a baby!