My bedroom window faces east, and each year around the 1st of June my room lights up like the 4th of July. The angle and position of the rising sun cause laser-like beams of light to find their way through cracks in the blinds and directly onto my pillow. As readers of this blog know, I’m NOT a morning person, so this four-alarm fire at the crack of dawn is a rude awakening. There’s also a street light outside my window that, with its new energy-efficient LEDs, turns midnight into high noon. What’s a nyctophile to do?
I’ve considered and rejected blackout curtains for a number of reasons, so for years my solution has been to wear a sleep mask, but finding one that fits properly and meets all of my needs has proven more challenging than finding the perfect bra (men, you’ll have to trust me on this). Reviews have not been helpful, because people have different sleep habits and quirks when it comes to something covering their eyes. Tim Ferriss, who rarely steers me wrong, raved about a mask that I couldn’t manage to wear for a single night.
One feature I’ve discovered I MUST have in a sleep mask is eye cavities. You’ll never go back to a flat strip of material once you’ve worn a mask that allows you to open and close your eyes freely. The mask must also be soft, so it doesn’t cut into my skin, but sturdy enough to keep its shape and prevent any material from touching my lids or lashes. The strap needs to be snug, but not so tight that it gives me a headache. The Velcro should be adjustable, but the ends must meet neatly so that it doesn’t get caught in my hair. That’s a tall order, but I’m just getting started.
The primary purpose of a sleep mask is to block out light, and this is more important—and difficult—than you might think. While some people are sensitive and can be awakened by the barest light slipping in around the edges, deep sleepers can also be negatively affected by too much light. Scientists have found that even a typical night light can interfere with the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us fall and stay asleep. When you consider our exposure to artificial lights and computer, phone, and TV screens before bed and (often) during sleep, it’s amazing we aren’t all zombies (World War 💤). When I worked at an alternative healthcare center, one of the most common complaints among clients was insomnia. Maybe everyone just needed to cut the lights.
I’ve always enjoyed nighttime, but I never experienced the bliss of sleeping in complete darkness until I found a sleep mask that blocked out ALL light. Unfortunately, I could only achieve this sightless sensation by lying perfectly still on my back, a position I can maintain for about ten minutes, tops. I move around a lot during the night and prefer to sleep on my side, so I need a mask that moves with me. Unless you attach it to your face with duct tape, however, even the best masks will let in some light when it comes to restless and/or side sleepers, but blocking out most—or even some—light is much better than nothing.
I have used and discarded several sleep masks over the years. Like many relationships, things usually start out great, but then you find something to complain about. I dallied with one that I really liked, but the cover started to fall apart after a couple of washes. Another was just right…until the foam began to disintegrate. I’ve been through straps that have lost their elasticity and others that have become hopelessly tangled in my hair. One mask pinched my nose, while another left crescent marks on my cheeks. I’ve slept with a bunch of losers trying to find The One, but I’ve gone steady with my current piece for almost a year and things are going well, so I’m finally ready to S.W.O.O.N. over it.
Dream Essentials sells a variety of sleep masks, from low cost to luxury, but while you might be tempted to try one of their aromatherapy, silk, or brightly patterned masks, I recommend the Escape™ Luxury Sleep Mask. With its contoured construction, plush material, adjustable strap, and eye cavities, it checks all the boxes. The mask was slightly stiff when I first started to use it, but became more flexible with repeated wear. Some light does sneak in when I’m not lying on my back, but I won’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Until Elon Musk turns his attention to creating sleep masks, I’ll continue to enjoy a Sleep Worthy Of One’s Nights with this essential accessory.
Since watching Sleepless in America and reading The Sleep Revolution, I’ve come to realize that getting quality sleep on a regular basis is one of the most important things we can do for our health and well-being, so be sure to slip on this luxury mask from Dream Essentials at bedtime and you’ll go out like a light.
Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:
The Escape™ Luxury Sleep Mask is also available from Amazon.
This is my 100th individual post for The Swoon Society! It’s been a lot of work, so I think I’ll don my mask and celebrate by taking a nap. 😴