If you are someone who has recently started using sleep masks, you might wonder if they are bad for your eyes.
Sleep masks can help block out light and allow the wearer to get a better night’s sleep. There are a few cons to wearing sleep masks. For example, they can cause dry eyes or even damage your lashes in the long run.
There is an ongoing debate about whether this is actually good for your eyes in the long term. Some people say that it causes eye strain because it deprives them of exposure to natural light during the day, while others claim it doesn’t really make much of a difference.
Sleep masks are an interesting case. One would think they are an inoffensive way of improving your life. After all, what could be the issues of wearing such a small piece of cloth on our face? Well, there are various potential issues with it.
In this article, we are going to learn everything about sleep masks. Are they bad for your eyes? Do they work? And what makes a sleep mask effective and safe to use?
Eye Issues when Sleeping with Masks
If you’ve slept with masks and had eye issues, you’re in brilliant company. Well, not so great, really. But you aren’t alone in your misery.
One of the most common eye issues that causes problems with sleep masks is dry eyes. If you wear a mask for more than half an hour, your eyes will become very irritated and even addled. It’s not pretty, but it can happen to you.
There is some evidence that if you wear your sleep mask every night for an extended period, there might be permanent damage to your lashes and less blood flow in and around your eyes.
The good news is, this only happens if you wear your mask every night for years on end. Using your mask over three days in a row might be problematic.
So far, we have only discussed the problems that come from wearing sleep masks while you’re actually sleeping. There are also some issues that can occur if you wear them for too long during the day.
These problems include sluggishness and even trouble concentrating. This is because the mask has essentially deprived you of natural light and may even have caused your eyes to dry out due to lack of moisture.
Wearing Sleep Masks at Night: Pros and Cons
Not everyone enjoys wearing sleep masks at night. That’s because everyone is different, and each one of us has different sleep preferences. That said, there are objective pros and cons to wearing sleep masks.
The differences are in how you perceive these pros and cons. Some people are ok with the flaws, because the pros are just that good. Others can’t stand wearing a mask because the benefits they offer aren’t enough. What good is it to potentially sleep better, if wearing a mask at night is unbearable?
Let’s see these pros and cons.
Pros of Wearing Sleep Masks
The pros of sleeping masks are all in the “better sleep” field.
If you use a high-quality mask, it’ll completely block out light from reaching your eyes, leading to better sleep. Our eyes can still pick up the light outside when they are shut. This signals our body that it’s daytime, and that it’s time to wake up. While that is true for most people, not everyone has the same lifestyle. If you work night shifts, or are a night owl, you probably don’t care about waking up early.
When combined with earplugs, you’ll get the optimal sleeping experience. The external world won’t affect you anymore. You’ll become a happy little isolated sleeper. Which is great for your sleep quality. No more outside annoyances disrupting your sleep. Light and noise are the 2 worst things for our sleep.
Also Read: Is Sleeping With Earplugs Bad?
And good sleep is the foundation of a good life.
- Concentration and focus
- Reaction times
If you’re someone who struggles with insomnia, wearing a mask can be incredibly beneficial. The mask provides that dark and quiet place you need to sleep. Insomniacs’ brains are looking for the smallest excuse to not sleep. And light—however small amount of it—is one of these excuses.
Studies show that sleep masks give us more REM time and elevated melatonin—the sleep hormone—levels compared to people who don’t use them. The caveat, obviously, is that the study is made in perfect conditions. These people were put in harsh sleeping conditions with lots of noise and unpleasant light. Specifically, that of an ICU (intensive care unit). It’s plausible to expect masks and ear plugs to not have much of an impact if you’re already sleeping in a dark and quiet room.
Cons of Wearing Sleep Masks
There are some significant benefits to wearing a mask, but it doesn’t make it a perfect product.
The biggest con is how blurry it makes your vision when you wake up. When you apply pressure to your eyes, it messes with your ability to focus. If you’re trying to get up right away or are someone who needs help waking up early, this can make things more difficult for you in the morning. If you need sharp vision right after waking up, masks are not a good idea.
There are other cons to wearing masks, such as dry eyes and other physical dangers that can occur while you’re sleeping in your bed.
Masks is that they can be uncomfortable for some people. Some masks are too tight or not bulky enough, which causes them to slip off when you shift in your sleep and irritate the skin around your eyes if it’s pressed against them when lying down.
This could drastically lower your sleep’s quality, or outright block you from falling asleep. Poor sleep leads to all sorts of health problems, increasing chance of obesity, coronary heart disease, and diabetes.
How do you feel after a sleepless night? Groggy and moody, right? These are common when you sleep a little. Poor sleep is a huge issue in the US, with over 50% of adults reporting getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night.
In warm weather, wearing a mask could make you feel too hot and cause your body to sweat profusely throughout the night. The last major con is that there are some external factors which come into play when sleeping with one on, like light from other devices or street lights.
Another major con of wearing masks comes with the discomfort. Some people just don’t like sleeping while covered up, and they can’t get used to this feeling, no matter how comfortable the mask is or what it promises in terms of comfort. This also happens when you buy a poor-quality mask.
If you’re someone who has a hard time adjusting to new things for your bedtime routine, avoid masks. This is because it could take a long time for your eyes and body to adjust if you’ve never worn one before. If you can’t afford the luxury of potential poor sleep for 3-4 days because your body is adapting, then you should reconsider.
You can teach your body to get used to the mask too. Wear it for 20 minutes before bedtime, and then take it off and go to sleep. Repeat this process for a week, and your body will learn to deal with having its eyes enclosed by a mask. This process has the added benefit of making the mask’s shape adapt to your face.
It could take you several nights before your eyes and body get used to the feeling of sleeping with one on, which is why some people never adjust, no matter how comfortable their sleep masks are supposed to be. It’s also been known for some people who wear them every night as part of their bedtime routine to wake up in the middle of the night because they can’t adjust.
Last, if you suffer from panic attacks, sleep masks are a terrible idea. Imagine waking up because of an attack, and you can’t see anything because you have a mask on, while you are frantically searching for the light switch. You don’t want any added stress when you’re dealing with your condition. It’s better to look for other ways to sleep in complete darkness if this is the case.
What Makes a Sleep Mask Good?
If you’re going to go with a sleep mask, there are certain things that make the benefits worthwhile over all the cons listed above.
A good quality sleep mask will completely block off the light. Our eyes can pick up external light even while they’re shut off. It’s why sleeping during the day is worse than sleeping during the night, no matter what you do. Our eyes should be in total darkness for the optimal sleeping experience.
Comfort is the second most important factor. You want a mask that is soft, and that doesn’t press against your face too hard. If you try out a mask and notice that it doesn’t feel right, go with something else. You should completely forget about your sleep mask throughout the night because that’s how comfortable it is supposed to be.
Another very important factor of an excellent quality sleep mask is size. It needs to fit on your face without falling off, no matter what position you are sleeping in. If you’re a back sleeper, stomach sleeper or side sleeper, your mask should work for these positions to keep the light out throughout the night.
People who wear masks also want them to be adjustable so they can fit their face properly without it being too tight or uncomfortable around the eyes. You shouldn’t have any red marks or bruises on your face after sleeping, which is why you want a mask that adjusts to the size of your head.
Finally, masks should be hygienic and easy to clean so they don’t accumulate dirt and bacteria. This will prevent them from causing any skin problems and affect how comfortable they feel each night.
Editor’s note: simply washing your mask with water is enough for daily care. But you should thoroughly clean it at least once a week if you use it regularly. Most masks can be machine washed, so you can toss yours in the washing machine and be done with it. Read the specifications when you buy it so you know how to clean it. Or you can wash them manually with a pH neutral liquid detergent.
Sleep masks come in all shapes and sizes, so you should be able to find one that meets the requirements of an outstanding quality sleep mask. As long as it blocks out light completely while also being adjustable for comfort and size, you can get away with buying just about any brand on your own without worrying about waking up at night because there is too much light.
You should also be able to find a mask that is made from the best quality materials so it won’t rip or tear within a few months of daily use, which makes them worth your money if you’re going to wear one every night for sleeping purposes.
Sleep masks are potentially bad for our eyes when we rely too much on them. But as long as you buy one that is comfortable for you and don’t use it every night, you’ll be fine. Masks are best used for extreme situations, like flights or train travels.
If you’re sleeping at home, there are better ways to achieve the same result, such as light-blocking curtains and blinds. These effectively block out light being nowhere close to your face.
That said, some people enjoy the feeling of having something gently caressing them on the face. And when it’s cold outside, the heat generated by our face around the eyes can help lull us to sleep.
The best advice for sleep masks is to just try them. If you end up liking them, feel free to keep them on. If you don’t, you have lost little. It’s one of those purchases where the potential benefits are many, and that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Your body will take a couple of days to get used to sleep masks, but once it has, you’ll notice your sleep quality increase. However, masks are a temporary solution. Look for better ways to block light from coming into your room.