Do Eye Masks Actually Help You Sleep Better?

We’ve all seen the person on the plane with an eye mask on. Many of us think that only in the direst of circumstances do they come in handy. Why would you need an eye mask in your bedroom where you control the environment? This reasoning is what leads many people to believe that eye masks are not necessary for 99% of sleeping scenarios, but is it true? If you need more than just a sleeping mask to achieve a peaceful sleep, contact your sleep doctor today.

Can eye masks actually help you sleep better all the time, only in certain situations, or even at all?

Do Eye Masks Work?

As humans evolved, we adopted a diurnal lifestyle where we sleep when it’s dark and wake when it’s light. Nature created a perfect alarm clock and scheduling system that our bodies and minds are innately accustomed to. Although we live in a technological age where electricity is as common as water, this was not always the case.

For the majority of the human timeline, we had no other choice than to quit the working day once night came. This has become so ingrained in the human mentality that our bodies naturally produce melatonin to aid in sleep when night comes. Because of this evolutionary step in humans, it is necessary to have darkness to achieve optimal sleep. In this case, eye masks do technically work because of the added darkness they can provide. In a room with blackout shades to achieve the highest levels of darkness, eye masks may not be necessary. However, there are many beneficial times to use them.

The Benefits of Eye Masks

The biggest benefit that eye masks give is the ability to simulate extreme darkness so that we can sleep deeply. In fact, a study performed in China concluded that eye masks resulted in more REM sleep, less arousal, and elevated melatonin levels. Due to this outcome, there are a lot of fringe benefits to using eye masks:

  • Poor sleeping conditions – Many people are not fortunate enough to have a “normal” work schedule. Those who work the night shift and sleep during the day may find eye masks helpful. Also, patients in a hospital never get a break from the light and noise of their surrounding, and eye masks have been found to help in these types of situations.
  • Insomnia – Those who suffer from insomnia find it very difficult to achieve deep sleep, even when the lights are out. Today, every bedroom is plagued with tiny lights and objects that can cause mayhem to those sensitive sleepers. With an eye mask, you erase these bright distractions. Opening your eyes only results in darkness as well. It is a way to fool your mind into overcoming mild insomnia. If you need help treating insomnia or other sleep disorders, get in touch with Dr. Shukla. As a premier sleep doctor in New York, Dr. Shukla specializes in treating patients displaying countless sleep disorder symptoms.
  • Price – There are other ways to ensure that your room is pitch black, but none as cost-effective as eye masks. Whether it’s blackout curtains or medications, these other options can add up quickly.
  • Dry eyes – In warmer climates and during the summer, many people use fans and air conditioners to help regulate their body temperature while sleeping; however, it could potentially also dry out your eyes. Whether from the air itself, or dust in your room, eye masks will create a protective barrier for your eyes.

The Disadvantages of Eye Masks

For all the good that eye masks do, there are always some cons to go with the pros. Although none are inherently bad, they could give you cause for not using them.

  • Discomfort – Many people may find the added pressure of an eye mask on your face to be uncomfortable. If you are used to sleeping a certain way, it is hard to change your habits. You may find that the eye mask is too tight, your eyelashes are being crushed, or the general feeling of something on your face is annoying. Luckily, there are tons of sizes, styles, and fits of eye masks to find the most comfortable one for even the most delicate sleeper.
  • Wear lines – A very minor disadvantage is that some eye masks leave wear lines on your face after a night of use.
  • Oversleeping – Due to our diurnal nature, it is easy to oversleep using an eye mask. It does not allow light to reach your eyes, which signals to your body that it’s time to wake up.
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