I have been sleeping wearing an eye mask for quite a few years now, but finding the right type of eye mask that allowed me to have a comfortable good night’s sleep took some time.
by Elia Strange
Over the years I must have tried at least twenty different types – from the cheap airplane ones, the thick black velvety ones, the simple cotton ones, and those which are made of silk.
They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes in these various materials, thus they all have a very different feel. Choosing the right one for you is very personal as it must provide a high level of comfort around your eyes whilst you sleep.
In what way they are
Firstly, avoid buying cheap eye masks as not only will be the worst to wear. They are often badly designed and allow light to leak in as well as often having no adjustment making them too tight to wear for any length of time.
These masks are also made from low quality manmade materials and quickly become sweaty and un-wearable, they are also un-washable and you end up throwing your money away.
So you need to plan ahead and shop for good high-quality
ones that are a really good fit instead.
Also be aware that some of the eye masks which are made of velvet or a similar fabric can make your face sweat throughout the night.
Difficult to imagine?
- It's true! I live in the UK, which is far from being classed as a hot and sunny country. Under these ‘normal’ conditions I have never suffered from my face sweating whilst I have been sleeping, apart from when I have worn eye masks that were made from synthetic or velvety (i.e. warm) fabrics.
In fact living in the UK, I actually feel cold for most months of the year. So when my face is sweating during the night and the rest of the body feels cool, it's not a particularly pleasant feeling.
How to choose the right eye sleeping mask
1) There are many sleeping eye masks that use an elastic strap which that is supposed to fit around your head. You have to be careful with this type as the elastic can often be too thin and too short.
If you have a small head, then choosing one of these types of mask with wide enough elastic so that it doesn’t cut into your head should be fine for you.
I don't know if I have a large head or an average one (I think it's just an average), but most of these types of masks feel really tight for my head.
The weird thing about this type of mask is when you try them on, they feel absolutely fine. But I have found that they often wake you in the middle of the night with a feeling of discomfort around your head or there have been times when I have even developed a headache because of the pressure of the tight eye mask.
I can recall a number of times where I just had to cut the elastic band and re-sew it allowing the band to be looser and more comfortable.
So when you try the mask on, make sure you only feel a very light around your head, almost as if there is nothing there. I have found that even if there is the slightest of tension from the elastic strap, this will feel very uncomfortable during the night and can wake you up.
2) Some eye masks come with an adjustable strap and most use either a buckle or Velcro so that you can alter the tension of the strap. I do not recommend any eye mask that comes with a buckle as I found that it will twist and can really dig into the back of your head when you are sleeping.
I also dislike the Velcro adjustable ones as they have become entangled in my hair overnight. Upon waking I found that they proved very difficult and painful to remove.
In my opinion a good eye mask should fit around your head comfortably and should not have any buckles or velcro.
Yet another reason for choosing the correct fit is, that if the mask is too tight it can press on your eyelids whilst you are sleeping and when wake up you can find that your eyes can be hard-to-open.
This can happen to you particularly if your eyes are prone to dryness, perhaps due to the air conditioning, or side effects from medications or if you have had laser corrective surgery to your eyes.
I have had corrective eye surgery and there have been times when my eyeballs have felt like they have become nearly stuck to the insides of my eyelids by the morning, and this happened with quite a few different masks, and is usually caused by the elastic strap being just slightly tight around my head.
3) Some of the simple cotton eye masks have an internal lining, which is made of a wool-like material. I have found that these can also make your face sweat and the same goes for the masks that are made out of synthetic fabric, as well as some of the masks that are filled in with herbs like jasmine or lavender.
Again, if you live in a cold climate, this might be fine. But if you live in a warm or a hot country, then don't choose them.
I recommend that you look for the lightest natural fabric possible, also there are some eye masks filled with infused silk floss (herbal infusions). These do not use actual herbs inserted in them and they are usually much better than those that do, simply because they have a much lighter feel to them.
4) I know this sounds obvious, but when you are trying an eye mask on you really do need to make sure that your new eye mask will totally block all the light out.
Try it on and look at the daylight, check for pinhole light leaks through the material or around the edges or the nose.
You shouldn't be able to see any light coming through at all, this is highly important, especially if you are planning to use this mask for a napping or sleeping during daylight hours (for example, if you are working different shifts). Some eye masks state in their description as 'total black out', chose them if you can.
If you are suffering from light pollution at home then I highly recommend that you put up black out curtains or blinds in your bedroom instead of sleeping with eye mask on.
There is nothing that can compare with the effectiveness of good
quality black out curtains. They will transform your bedroom into a cosy dark
cave even if it is the middle of the day and the sun is shining brightly
outside and you won't need to wear an eye masks at all!
When measuring up for black out curtains, make sure they are wide enough and have enough drop to not only black out the light from the window. But ensure there is also enough covering the walls around each side of it. If in doubt, go for a larger size than an exact one, so it covers your window area as much as is possible.
However, in some circumstances a good sleeping eye mask is the answer. Maybe you cannot put up black out curtains in your current apartment or if you are loo traveling or on holiday, then before you go, do some research and read independent product reviews before you go shopping to get the best eye mask you for you. As we all know, it is so important to be able to have a good night’s sleep.
Finally, for the first few nights your new eye mask will feel weird, especially if you've never slept with one before. But persist and you will get used to it, as we all had to. It might take 5-7 nights (or days if you are sleeping during the day), but in the end it will be worth it.
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