Here's Why You Should Be Wearing A Sleep Mask To Bed

If you're like most people, you occasionally get a bad night's sleep. The CDC reported that one in three adults in the United States is sleep deprived. "As a nation, we are not getting enough sleep," said Wayne Giles, M.D., director of CDC's Division of Population Health. He suggested that lifestyle changes like going to bed and waking up at the same time might help people catch some more ZZZs. 

Whether you have a chronic sleep problem or just the occasional restless night, one lifestyle change that is relatively affordable, and easy to make is a sleep mask (via Shape). A soft mask over your eyes can help you snooze because it blocks light, which is an essential part of sleeping. One important aspect of falling asleep and staying that way is your body's circadian rhythm. According to a 2011 study published in the journal JCEM, exposure to light can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm, delaying the production of an important sleep hormone, melatonin. When you're in the dark, your body produces more melatonin, and synthesizes it for longer, which allows you to sleep. Dr. Wendy Troxel, a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, told Healthline, "Light, especially at night, can disrupt our internal biological 'clock' that helps to regulate our sleep-wake patterns." That's where a light-blocking sleep mask comes in, but they need several key features to help keep you from counting sheep all night long.

Here's how to choose the right sleep mask

With so many artificial sources of light like streetlights, glowing digital clocks, and electronic devices (via Healthline), it can be hard for you to create optimal sleeping conditions. Chris Brantner, certified sleep science coach and founder of SleepZoo, told Shape, "Light is one of the primary things we can control to minimize sleep disruption."  He recommends wearing a properly fitting mask, ideally made of silk, as the best option, but velvet, faux fur, or fleece are also efficient at blocking enough light to promote restful sleep.

According to Healthline, you want a mask that is the right shape and size for your face and comfort. You can get them contoured with raised areas that don't press against your eyes, or you can get a flat one. Either style can work, so it depends on your preference and the fit. The weight of the sleep aid might also be a factor for you. While most are lightweight, some have a heaviness for added stress relief. Again, it depends on what you're looking for in a sleep mask. Finally, some covers also feature temperature adjustments, making the mask hot or cold, which could help with headaches and puffy eyes

If you have trouble sleeping, the right sleep mask could be a game-changer for you. If you've never tried one, now is an excellent time to take the plunge and see if it works.