If you’re considering buying one, you’re bound to want to know before going ahead - do sleep masks work?

do sleep masks work

There are many sleep masks on the market, and they’re available in all price brackets from a few pounds upwards. Whether you want to know which are the best sleep masks or are wondering what sleep masks are for, this post has you covered.

Do sleep masks help you drop off at night - or stop you waking up in the small hours? Or do sleep masks cause wrinkles, and are they thus best avoided?

Here is everything you should know about how sleep masks work - and indeed whether they really do or don’t.

Do sleep masks work - all you need to know

What do sleep masks do?

There are so many sleep eye masks available in the UK and overseas. But what is the point of them, really? They make a cute gift, granted, but do they really have a practical purpose?

For more information on sleep masks see our post about our 100% Mulberry Silk Eye Masks.

Here’s the lowdown on what sleep masks can do for you.

Sleep masks block out light

Sleep masks can block out unwanted light. We all know that too much screen time is a bad idea just before bed, and a sleep mask can continue reducing the amount of light your eyes are exposed to. This applies to both natural and artificial sources

If there are street lights outside your bedroom, your partner likes to read or watch TV until late or you wake up in summer as soon as the sun’s rays start to light up the sky, then using eye sleep masks can help cut out all that light. Meaning you’ll drop off more quickly and sleep more soundly.

sleep masks block out light

Sleep masks stimulate melatonin production

So why does blocking out light help you sleep? When your eyes are receiving little or no light, that’s a signal to your brain to wind down for the night.

The hormone melatonin is then produced, and this controls your body’s sleeping and waking cycle. Meaning you naturally drop off more quickly and experience a much sounder night’s sleep.

Sleep masks are good for your mental health

That’s the brain and body covered, but what about your mental well-being? A sleep mask also tells you that it’s time to lie down, relax and drift off into a blissful slumber.

Better sleep improves your mood - and means waking up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day. This can in turn help to boost your mood while reducing the signs of stress and anxiety.

Sleep masks are good for your physical health

Your physical health can also benefit when you wear a sleep mask. Cell renewal is improved when you get enough rest, meaning that things like skin regeneration take place more readily. A sleep mask may even make you look younger as a result!

A good night’s sleep can also help you fight off infections because of the boost to your immune system. Getting insufficient sleep has also been linked to chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Sleep masks are a natural way to fall asleep

Using a sleep mask doesn’t involve taking supplements that may or may not be good for your health. No drugs at all are required.

If you pick products like silk sleep masks, then the fabric they’re made from may also be entirely natural rather than man-made.

sleep masks are a natural way to fall asleep

Sleep masks are ideal for travel

If you take long-haul flights or lengthy train rides for work or leisure, then getting some shut-eye while you’re in motion can be a real time-saver.

Popping on an eye mask can really help, because as mentioned above this blocks out light while stimulating melatonin production. With no pills needed.

Are there any drawbacks to using sleep masks?

There are a few potential pitfalls to using sleep masks, though these really are minimal and they’re generally far safer than other sleeping aids.

Sleep masks may cause infection or irritation

A dirty sleep mask could cause eye or skin irritation - or even infection. So do make sure you keep yours clean!

Removing make-up before bed really helps, and washing your eye mask carefully once a week is recommended. (You could always buy another one later to make life easier, once you decide if it’s for you).

Sleep masks may not fit properly

Ill-fitting sleep masks can also put pressure on the eyes, which may result in short-term blurred vision when you open them. The simple solution here is to go for an eye mask with a comfortable, elasticated strap to stop that from happening.

A really tight-fitting eye mask could even interfere with blood circulation. So do make sure you invest in a good quality product with a decent strap.

Sleep masks may cause allergic reactions

It’s also possible that your eye mask could cause an allergic reaction. You can minimise this risk by wearing a silk eye mask, as this material is naturally hypoallergenic.

Sleep masks are not suitable for young children

Due to the risk of suffocation, sleep masks are not good for babies or infants to use.

Are all sleep masks the same?

So we’ve outlined how and why sleep masks work. Now, how about which one to choose? Are fun sleep masks, for instance, just as effective as a pure silk one?

Synthetic sleep masks

A synthetic sleep mask is far less likely to improve your sleep. It may even have the opposite effect. You may wake because it feels tight, uncomfortable or itchy, or when it traps heat and makes you sweat during a hot night.

Natural sleep masks

Natural, breathable fabrics like cotton, silk and bamboo are the best choice. Cotton and bamboo are better than man-made materials, but silk is the number one option because it’s so much smoother and more comfortable.

Silk sleep masks

Silk is also very kind to skin, is naturally hypoallergenic and is also thermo-regulating. Meaning you’re less likely to wake up because you’re too hot at night.

Natural silk is also surprisingly easy to clean - though it will need washing less often anyway than a sleep mask made from cotton, bamboo or man-made fibres.

We have an article explaining the history of silk.

dark blue silk eye mask

Other sleep masks

Other kinds of sleep masks are also available, including heated, chilled and weighted ones. Always exercise extreme caution when using heat or cold around the delicate eye area. Weighted masks are not recommended for overnight use.

Do sleep masks work | The final word

Sleep masks can be very effective in helping you get a good, refreshing night’s sleep. Try one for yourself and see! Silk is the best choice, and though it costs more this is a great investment in how you spend around a third of your life.

June 24, 2022 — Michelle Fletcher Smith