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A decade ago, the term "sleep aid" almost always referred to some type of pill-form supplement that would knock you out, giving you some additional sought-after shuteye. But more recently, that term has expanded to include a plethora of holistic and even technology-based sleep solutions that are designed to relax your body and mind into a more peaceful slumber. These include helpful sleep apps, smart lights, white noise machines, weighted blankets, and, now, weighted sleep masks.
If you're not familiar with what a weighted sleep mask is or what its benefits are, we spoke to some sleep experts who were able to break it down for us. Their effects are similar to that of a weighted blanket, but because they're much smaller and require fewer materials, you can snag one for a fraction of the price. If you're like the one in three Americans who are considered sleep deprived, trying out a weighted sleep mask may be a worthy buy before you take the plunge and splurge for a weighted blanket. Here's why.
What is a weighted sleep mask?
Similar to a weighted blanket, a weighted sleep mask provides optimal gentle pressure via a filling of glass beads (or another solid object) that makes it heavier than a traditional eye mask. They are made to fit the eyes snugly and block out light while subtly applying pressure through this weight. There are several different weighted sleep mask varieties on the market, and each one provides a different weight level and material makeup.
What are the benefits of a weighted sleep mask?
According to Dr. Kent Smith, a renowned sleep expert and president of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy, weighted sleep masks "provide an added element of pressure that mimics the feeling of being held, which is known as Deep Touch Pressure,” he explains. “This type of pressure can help increase serotonin levels, which aid in the regulation of sleep. The same feeling of being held encourages the body to produce oxytocin, which can relieve pain and stress, leading to reduced anxiety and restlessness.”
Additionally, Chris Norris, a certified sleep science coach and founder at SleepStandards.com, says that these masks can help to relieve headaches and migraines. “This has been a holy grail to most headache and migraine sufferers,” he tells us. “They say that it really gives a relaxing effect to the forehead, eye muscles, and face.”
Finally, Dr. Smith tells us that the benefit of any eye mask—weighted or not—is that they can provide the ability to make any sleep space completely dark. He explains that light stimulates alertness and affects the body’s natural sleep rhythm. “Excess light, natural or artificial, can slow the production of melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep,” he says. “Sleep masks are a good option to promote a dark environment in any location.”
So if you’re continually tossing and turning at night, investing in a weighted sleep mask may be the right move for you.
Best weighted sleep masks to shop:
Gravity Weighted Sleep Mask, $29.99, amazon.com
Nodpod Gentle Pressure Sleep Mask, $32, amazon.com
Imak Compression Pain Relief Mask and Eye Pillow, $13.49, amazon.com
Asutra Silk Eye Pillow for Sleep, $19.99, amazon.com
Acomopack Multi-Function Weighted Eye Mask, $20.88, amazon.com
Cozynight Lavender Weighted Sleep Mask, $20.99, amazon.com
Buzio Weighted Sleep Eye Mask, $14.99, amazon.com
YnM Weighted Eye Mask for Sleep, $19.90, amazon.com