Weighted sleep eye masks are a relatively new sleep aid that has recently gained popularity. They are designed to provide deep pressure stimulation to the face, which is thought to have some benefits, including reducing anxiety, improving sleep quality, and relieving headaches. But how exactly do they work, and are they safe and effective?
Weighted sleep eye masks utilize deep pressure stimulation to promote relaxation and improved sleep quality.
They are designed to provide gentle pressure on specific facial areas, triggering a calming response in the nervous system.
The weight of these masks typically ranges from 0.5 to 1 pound, designed to be comfortable yet effective.
Weighted eye masks are generally safe for most people to use, but some people should avoid them.
There needs to be more scientific research on the effectiveness of weighted eye masks.
How do weighted eye masks work?
The theory behind weighted eye masks is that deep pressure stimulation (DPS) can help to calm the nervous system. When you apply gentle pressure to the body, it sends signals to the brain that it is safe and secure. This can help to reduce the production of stress hormones, such as cortisol, and increase the production of relaxation hormones, such as serotonin and melatonin.
When we experience stress or anxiety, our sympathetic nervous system activates, leading to the "fight or flight" response. Weighted eye masks are hypothesized to counteract this by applying gentle pressure to specific areas of the face. There currently needs to be research done on DPS on the eyes.
Deep pressure stimulation (DPS)
DPS is a type of touch therapy that involves applying gentle pressure to the body. It has been shown to have a number of benefits, including reducing anxiety, improving sleep quality, and relieving pain. It is a therapeutic technique that has been widely used in various sensory integration therapies, particularly for individuals with sensory processing disorders or autism.
DPS involves applying firm but gentle pressure to different parts of the body, typically using weighted blankets, vests, or, in this case, weighted eye masks. The pressure exerted on the skin and underlying tissues triggers the release of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, which promote feelings of calm and well-being.
Weighted vs. non-weighted sleep masks
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that weighted eye masks work better than other sleep masks. While regular sleep masks are designed to block out light and provide a dark sleeping environment, they do not have the added benefit of DPS. Some people find weighted masks are more effective at reducing anxiety and improving sleep quality.
How heavy are weighted eye masks?
Weighted eye masks are typically made from a soft, breathable fabric, such as cotton or silk. The weighted insert is often made from glass beads or plastic pellets. Weighted eye masks typically weigh between 0.5 and 1 pound.
The choice of weight depends on individual preferences, as some users may find a lighter mask sufficient for their needs, while others may prefer a slightly heavier one. It's essential to balance the therapeutic benefits of DPS and the need for comfort and usability.
Benefits of weighted sleep mask
Weighted sleep masks offer a range of benefits that can improve sleep quality. Below are some of the key benefits of using a weighted sleep mask:
- Enhanced relaxation. The pressure of the weighted mask triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a sense of calm to aid in falling asleep.
- Light blocking. Light exposure suppresses melatonin release to help us sleep and can reset your circadian rhythms impacting your quality of sleep.
- May help with sensory processing. Weighted sleep masks are often favored by individuals with sensory processing disorders, as the deep pressure can provide a grounding and calming effect.
- Can complement other sleep strategies. Weighted sleep masks can be used alongside other sleep-promoting strategies like meditation, relaxation techniques, or ear plugs to enhance sleep quality.
While weighted sleep masks can provide numerous benefits, it's essential to remember that individual experiences may vary.
Safety of weighted eye masks
Weighted eye masks are generally safe for most people to use. However, some people should avoid using them, such as people with claustrophobia or eye problems. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that weighted eye masks are unhealthy to use. However, some people may experience side effects like headaches or eye strain.
Weight directly on the eye can cause increased ocular pressure. Increasing pressure in the eye can cause ocular hypertension, causing long-term eye damage if care is not taken.
Children and weighted eye masks
The use of weighted eye masks for children should be approached with caution and consideration. Weighted eye masks are not recommended for children under the age of 12. This is because they may be too heavy for young children and could cause eye strain or other developmental problems.
Who should not use weighted eye masks?
While weighted eye masks can be beneficial for some individuals, there are specific groups who should avoid using them. People who should not use weighted eye masks include those who have:
- Eye problems such as glaucoma
- Had recent eye surgery
- Eye pain
- Chronic migraines or headaches
- Limited circulation around the eyes or face
Anyone experiencing discomfort, pain, or visual disturbances while wearing a weighted eye mask should discontinue its use and seek medical advice if necessary.
Can weighted eye masks damage my vision?
There is no evidence to suggest that weighted eye masks can damage your vision. However, some people report waking up in the morning with blurry vision or dry eyes after wearing a weighted sleep mask. If you experience any eye pain or discomfort while using a weighted eye mask, you should discontinue use.
It is essential to follow the manufacturer's instructions and ensure that the mask fits properly without causing any undue pressure on the eyes. Avoid wearing the mask too tightly or positioning it in a way that presses directly on the eyes. If you experience any discomfort, pain, or visual disturbances while using a weighted eye mask, discontinue its use immediately.
The science behind weighted eye masks
There needs to be more scientific research on the effectiveness of weighted eye masks. Research indicates that DPS can positively impact sleep and anxiety by promoting the release of neurotransmitters that induce relaxation and reduce stress. However, this effect has yet to be appropriately tested for weighted eye masks.
Weighted sleep eye masks offer a unique and innovative approach to enhancing sleep quality through DPS. Though more research is needed, weighted eye masks have become increasingly popular. It is important to note that not everyone will experience the same benefits from using a weighted eye mask. Some people may find that they are not effective, while others may find that they cause side effects, such as headaches or eye strain.
If you are considering using a weighted eye mask, it is important to talk to your doctor first. They can help you to determine if a weighted eye mask is right for you and can also recommend a specific mask that is appropriate for your needs.
- Occupational Therapy International. The Immediate Effects of Deep Pressure on Young People with Autism and Severe Intellectual Difficulties: Demonstrating Individual Differences.
- Applied Behavior Analysis Education. What is Deep Pressure Stimulation?
- Parenting Pod. Psychologist’s Guide to Weighted Sleep Masks: Do They Work? And Why?
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. What Is Ocular Hypertension?
- Clinical Ophthalmology. Review of external ocular compression: clinical applications of the ocular pressure estimator.