Now, let's get one thing straight: Eye masks aren't just a cutesy Breakfast at Tiffany's-style accessory. They really do bring on the benefits. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the main perk of using them is that blocking out light triggers your body to produce more melatonin, making you feel extra sleepy. And because they offer total darkness, they help fight off the negative physiological and psychological effects of light, whether you live in a bright city or have a partner who reads with a bedside lamp into the wee hours of the morning. Past studies have found they can help give you more REM time, less arousal, and elevated melatonin levels, helping you pass out and stay out.
Unfortunately, wearing a sleep mask every night comes with one major downside. Since it rests on the sensitive skin of your face for hours on end, it can cause some skin irritation. Especially if it's dirty. No matter which type of fabric you choose—whether that's silk, cotton (the most breathable!), satin, or memory foam—building up natural oil from your skin, bacteria, and sweat is inevitable. That's why washing it often is a must.
Your individual eye mask will most likely come with its own set of care instructions based on its material and durability, but if you're noticing itchiness or breakouts, most people recommend washing it daily or every few days—whatever works best for your skin's needs. Most of the time, that either means hand-washing it with a skin-friendly, hypoallergenic detergent that's free of any fragrance or washing it in the washing machine in a mesh wash bag, just like you'd wash other delicate items, like your bras. To save you time (and water!), that might mean buying a few different sleep masks and washing them at the end of the week.
Even though you might have to do a little extra laundry, it'll be more than worth it. By using an eye mask, you'll sleep better at night and feel more energized during the day.
The best eye masks for sleep
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