If you’ve never used a sleep mask, you’re probably rolling your eyes. But seriously, we’re not kidding. Getting enough sleep – and the right kind of sleep – is essential for your overall health and wellbeing. If you have trouble drifting off, are a shift-worker or travel a lot, you may not be getting enough sleep. That weakens your immune system and can make you more susceptible to serious illnesses like diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Plus, your brain can only consolidate memories and regenerate if you’re getting a regular dose of good sleep.
So yeah, a sleep mask can be a real life-changer.
The Meaning of “Good Sleep”
Every night, your body goes through several sleep cycles, moving between non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. You’ll typically begin the pattern with a period of very light sleep that only lasts a few minutes. As your brain waves slow down, you’ll drift into the second stage of NREM for 15 or 20 minutes. The third stage which follows is the deepest part of your sleep cycle, lasting up to 40 minutes with slower and more synchronized brain wave activity. In the final stage of the cycle, you’ll pass through a brief period of lighter sleep before entering the REM phase. That’s when you’re most likely to be dreaming and your eyes will be moving around even though they’re closed. The whole cycle lasts about 90 minutes, and you’ll repeat it throughout the night although the length of each phase may vary.
A good night’s sleep is one where the pattern isn’t interrupted. Anything that causes you to become fully awake is going to make you feel sleepy the next day, and if that happens on a regular basis, your entire cycle can get screwed up. Along with noise, ambient light is the prime culprit when it comes to messing with your sleep cycle.
Embrace the Dark
You’re programmed to power off when the sun goes down, producing a hormone called melatonin that gives your brain the signal it’s time to sleep. You’ll start to feel relaxed and drowsy, and your body temperature will drop as melatonin levels rise. Ambient light and the glare of the sun both inhibit the production of melatonin, which means it’s more difficult for your body to get ready for sleep if you’re exposed to any kind of light.
The darker the room, the better you sleep. While blackout curtains can help, they tend to be expensive and you definitely can’t lug them around when you’re traveling. A sleep mask is designed to block out any light source and make it easier for you to both fall asleep and stay that way. With a sleep mask, you’ll spend more time in the deeper stages of NREM and are far less likely to wake up between cycles.
The Right Sleep Mask
In order to do its job, a sleep mask has to be:
Comfortable: If you can’t get used to wearing a sleep mask within a few days, it wasn’t crafted for comfort.
Silk: Only silk will protect the delicate skin around your eyes. As an added bonus, a silk layer between you and your pillow helps prevent wrinkles.
Hypoallergenic: You won’t get much sleep if you’re dealing with a rash, itchy skin and watery eyes.
Full Coverage: Your mask needs to block all ambient light which means it should rest against the top of your cheekbones, not the bottom of your eye-socket.
Durable: The right mask is going to become as much a part of your sleep routine as your favorite pajamas. Get one that’s going to go the distance, no matter how far that may be.
The Brave Era sleep mask checks all the right boxes for a healthier sleep whether you’re adventuring, napping, or just trying to get your ZZZs.
Find yours here.