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Sleeping With An Eye Mask Has These Hidden Benefits

May 19, 2023May 19, 2023

Picture the scene: I’m out for dinner with friends, having a rare old time. We start talking about how we’ve been sleeping recently because we are in our 30s and, sadly, that’s what we do now.

I mention I’ve accidentally accrued quite the collection of eye masks. You know the ones – you wear them to sleep in and can get fancy ones with patterns, silk ones, or just the plain black ones that come free on long-haul flights.

I say that I don’t know how I managed to get so many but I always sleep so well when I wear them.

Some awkward glances are exchanged. One friend says: “Sarah… are you 80? Why would you need something like that?!” Another friend adds that he benefits from them because he thinks he has “thin eyelids” that let the light in.

I don’t know about that but I am firm on my stance that using an eye mask leads to a better, more fulfilling sleep – and everybody should try it.

And, as it turns out, the science is on my side.

Earlier this year, a team of researchers at Oxford University published a study on the cognitive benefits of using an eye mask during overnight sleep.

Working with 125 participants, they explored how wearing an eye mask can impact learning and memory in wearers versus those not wearing a mask.

What the researchers found is that wearing an eye mask overnight improved learning and alertness in wearers the next day, compared to those that didn’t wear an eye mask.

Another benefit, according to Healthline, is that they block out light – which, as we all know, can interrupt our body’s natural sleep cues.

“Eye masks can really help improve your overall quality of sleep,” Rosie Osmun, a certified sleep science coach from Sleep Junkie, told the publication.

One study looking into this found patients on an intensive care ward were able to spend more time in REM sleep when wearing a sleep mask and ear plugs – as they helped block out unwanted light and noise.

What’s more, according to Osmun, these masks also just feel quite nice on our skin: “The gentle pressure and soft material can be very relaxing for people and help trigger a calm feeling.”

Of course, they aren’t essential to a good sleep or to cognitive function but Cleveland Clinic states that while anybody could benefit from sleep masks, they may be particularly useful if you:

Have insomnia,

Work a night shift,

Don’t have blackout curtains where you sleep.

Happy snoozing.

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