This is part three of my How I Beat Severe Insomnia series. Part one discussed how I reset my circadian rhythms with light box treatments in the morning and blue blocker glasses after seven p.m. This system retrains my brain to produce sleep hormones at night instead of during the day. Part two details how a custom made hypnotherapy MP3 helps me fall asleep at night or fall back asleep if I wake up and have difficulty drifting off again. And, part three focuses on how my overall sleep quality improved by wearing sleep mask.
Our brains require complete darkness to sleep optimally and research reveals that light pollution disrupts this process. In fact, ambient light floods into our bedroom windows from streetlights, passing cars, our neighbors' floodlights, and even the full moon, disrupting sleep patterns by making our brains think it is morning. Items alight inside the room, such as LED lights from alarm clocks and televisions, trigger this problem as well. Not good.
Some people are more sensitive to this than others. Unfortunately, I am one of them.
For decades I had severe sleep problems. Jolts of adrenaline repeatedly woke me out of nowhere. Then what felt like electrical disturbances coursed through my head. I wondered if I had apnea or seizures or both. I'd already experienced major sleep benefits by reducing my light exposure after 7:00 p.m. by wearing blue blocker glasses, so I decided to do something about this ambient light exposure during sleep too.
I purchased an EcoTools sleep mask at my local health food store for $3.99.
COMPANY VALUES AND ETHICS
EcoTools is actress Alicia Silverstone's eco-friendly, sustainable body care company. I like the environmental vision of EcoTools and that they donate money to causes. The product is made in China, so I can't say where this business stands on ethical treatment of workers. Made in China doesn't always mean with exploited labor, though it can. It depends on the corporation. Alicia's social conscience concerning environmental causes and animal welfare is stellar, so I would hope she extends that kindness to human beings she employs. I took this one on faith.
The product is made of bamboo, so unlike satin masks this one can go in the washing machine. The elastic is sturdy and the eye pillow feels like soft terry cloth. It does not easily slide down the face during sleep like cheaply made sleep masks.
From the first night I used this mask the adrenaline rushes and abnormal electrical activity in my head during sleep ceased. I was stunned. Could subtle light exposure during sleep really trigger adrenaline rushes and haywire electrical activity in the brain? Then four days later I misplaced the mask and had to do without it for a few nights. Sure enough the problem returned with a vengeance. I bought a second mask and the activity stopped again, never to return. I now keep two EcoTools sleep masks on my night table in case one gets misplaced.
Dr. Terman's Take On Sleep Masks
My sleep guru, Dr. Terman of Columbia University Hospital's sleep clinic and author of Chronotherapy: Resetting Your Inner Clock to Boost Mood, Alertness, and Quality Sleep, does not recommend sleep masks or black out curtains. Though he acknowledges the deleterious effects of light pollution during sleep, in his book Dr. Terman expresses concern that these interventions will block exposure to the light of true dawn, which is crucial to circadian rhythm regulation. But I tend to instinctively whip this mask off my face at around 5:00 a.m. anyhow, so I still experience dawn's first light piercing through my blinds like everyone else. Sometimes I just have to go with what works even when it is not recommended by the experts.
Other Post In This Series:
How I Beat Severe Insomnia With A Light Box and Blue-Blocker Glasses
How I Beat Severe Insomnia: Hypnosis
Circadian rhythms are powerful, but people can change their sleep-wake cycles - The Washington Post
Prevent Light Pollution - Florida Atlantic University
Free app adjusts color on monitors to prevent disruption of sleep cycle - The Washington Post
Environ Health Perspect. 2009 January; 117(1): A20–A27.
Missing the Dark: Health Effects of Light Pollution
This post is linked with Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.
*This is not a sponsored post. This blog is an Amazon.com affiliate, though. All affiliate profits earned will be donated to Kiva, a not-for-profit micro-lending organization that makes no interest business loans to low income entrepreneurs in the developing world.