Many of us struggle to get the self-care and shuteye we need, so it’s no wonder weighted eyes masks are surging in popularity these days.
As is the case with any new, splashy product, there are numerous purported benefits of a using heavy sleep mask. These include everything from relieving stress and anxiety to soothing dry eyes. But which ones check out?
We asked a sleep doctor to weigh in on some of the most frequently asked questions about weighted eye masks. Here’s a quick guide, plus our recommendations for how to find the best weighted eye mask for you.
What is a weighted eye mask?
“A weighted sleep mask is an eye mask that contains weighted material, such as microbeads or sand,” says Stephanie Stahl, MD, sleep medicine physician at Indiana University Health. They’re often made with a soft fabric like silk, satin, fleece, jersey, or cotton and weigh a little over half a pound.
Just as a massage therapist might put a heavy, warm towel above your eyes to promote relaxation, the additional pressure from a sleep mask may help you decompress and drift off more easily. (The right bedding can also help you be more comfortable at night. Check out our guide to comforters vs. blankets to find out which type of bedding is best for you.)
Benefits of weighted eye masks
There’s no research on weighted eye masks yet, so it’s difficult to evaluate potential benefits, says Stahl. However, anecdotal evidence and existing sleep science do give us some clues as to why they may lead to sleep and health gains.
“As with conventional eye masks, these masks can also block out light,” says Stahl. “Darkness during our sleep period is important for optimal sleep and health.”
In fact, one study found an earplug/sleep mask combo helped ICU patients produce more melatonin (the sleep-promoting hormone), fall asleep faster, and spend more time in deep sleep with fewer disruptions.
A weighted sleep mask is also generally more affordable than the blackout shades or curtains sleep doctors often recommend to optimize your sleep space. And, unlike some medications and alcohol, it’s free of side effects, non-habit-forming, and won’t lead to a hangover in the morning. So if you work the night shift, it might be worth a try.
Then there’s the psychological effect of putting on a weighted eye mask for anxiety before bed. Adding this step to your wind-down routine could help evoke a sense of safety, comfort, and relaxation. After a stressful day, this may help you shift out of alert mode and ease into sleep more quickly.
Some weighted sleep mask users also say they help relieve dry eyes and migraines, but more research is needed on these claims. (Learn about weighted stuffed animals and weighted pillows and whether they can help you sleep better.)
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Qualities to look for in a weighted eye mask
The top three features to consider when shopping for a high-quality weighted eye mask include the material, fill, and weight.
- Material: Choose a material that suits your lifestyle and health needs. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, for example, opt for a mask made with a non-irritating fabric type such as silk or cotton.
- Fill: The type of fill you choose impacts how you can clean your sleep mask, so be sure to check out care instructions before you buy. If you have highly sensitive skin, keep in mind that silica beads can sometimes be irritating. Glass beads or flax seeds could make for great natural alternatives, while lavender buds could be sweet if you want the soothing effects of aromatherapy as well. (Find out if a smart eye mask can help you sleep better.)
- Weight: Most weighted eye masks are about 10 to 16 ounces. For optimal weight distribution, 400 grams or about 14 ounces is a smart choice. But, as is the case with a weighted blanket, Weighted Blanketyou may find you like a heavier model, so test them out to determine the best fit for you.
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Weighted eye mask FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about weighted eye masks.
Are weighted eye masks good for you?
Yes! A weighted eye mask for sleeping may help you relax before bed, fall asleep faster, and improve your sleep quality.
Do weighted eye masks work?
More studies are needed on weighted eye masks, but they block out light and may have a calming effect—so they could potentially help you get better sleep.
Are weighted eye masks safe?
“With no scientific data published on weighted eye masks, the safety risks are not established,” says Stahl. According to the American Sleep Association, they’re generally safe to use. However, keep in mind the potential for allergic reactions to the material or fill type.
Can weighted eye masks be heated?
Unfortunately, we don’t know whether or not applying a heated, weighted sleep mask is safe yet. “I have concerns about heating an eye mask, as overheating is possible,” Stahl points out.
Try Saatva’s weighted eye mask for better sleep
To get a better night’s sleep, consider using our
Like a calming, sleep-enhancing weighted blanket for tired eyes
The bottom line: With a weighted sleep mask, there’s no need to visit the spa for a massage or remodel your entire bedroom for a good night’s sleep. A touch of luxury is yours right at home every evening.
Next, check out our article on the science behind weighted blankets to see if this type of bedding can help you achieve better sleep.