Gone are the days when one’s worth is measured by lack of sleep. It seems that everyone, even media moguls like Arianna Huffington, has opened their eyes to the biological miracle–one might say even instinct–of sleep: the way that lying down at the end of the day rejuvenates your mind and spirit deep down to the level of your cells and genes.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that sleeping 7-9 hours, the recommended amount for most adults, is easy. Our American culture at large has hardly caught up with valuing rest over productivity, and the ubiquity of digital entertainment makes the flow of information constant and compelling. Why turn off when you can turn on any number of screens (on average, Americans have 4 different devices) and find information, people to hang out with or chat with (IRL or not), or the kind of mindless content that’s purported to help you “unwind” or “shut down”? Even meditation–the anti-technology–has made its way into iPhone apps like Insight Timer and Headspace.
In the spirit of getting back to basics, I sought out a simple and surprisingly effective way to encourage more restful sleep, one of my goals for improving my well being this year: a sleep mask. This seemingly vintage accessory (read: Holly Golightly) may seem frivolous at first, as it did to me. Why do I need something else to shut my eyes when I sleep? Don’t I have eyelids? I always asked myself. But in my current bedroom setup, I sleep immediately adjacent to a wide window that’s constantly illuminated by exterior lighting on neighboring buildings, so light is constantly, albeit subtly, infiltrating my eyes every night without them being open.
The sleep mask, by simply blocking out extraneous light, prevents the body from sensing that it’s time to wake up–which is what the rising sun usually signals–and doing so. In one study, a mask plus earplugs helped sleepers experience more REM time while asleep and increased levels of the sleep hormone, melatonin. I myself tend to get up at least once a night to use the bathroom, and so being able to quickly resume sleep after being in a bright space, with my eyes open, has resulted in more restful sleep since I started using my mask. I wake up less tired and more in sync with my body’s natural rhythm–in other words, when it’s been rested enough rather than when my alarm, or the sunlight outside, beckons.
While my eye mask is a basic fabric variety, there are myriad options, some containing gels and essential oils with added benefits. If you suffer from sinus pain or puffy, tired eyes, a cooling eye mask can relieve symptoms–whether you sleep with them or simply wear for a few hours pre-bedtime.
If you’re in the sleep mask market, check out some of these chic yet effective varieties that will redefine your day-to-night style.
This two-in-one mask offers a cooling relief to tired eyes plus light-blocking for sleep.
The combination of soothing lavender and clay beads, wrapped in organic, fair-trade cotton, alleviates stress and muscle fatigue.
Natural bamboo is cooling and soft, and the lightweight construction makes it comfortable and easy to pack for travel.
Just for fun–a girl’s gotta look good all the time!
Which eye mask will transform your sleeping habits?
Also by Jennifer: Why a Bullet Journal ® Will Help You Conquer 2017 Like a Boss Lady
Related: 5 Stretches for a Good Night’s Sleep
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Photo: Jennifer Kurdyla; Ulta; Thrive Market; Dream Essentials; Etsy; ohlovelylolo.wordpress.com