When Viviana Greco moved to Wales, she had an experience that many of us know first-hand: the houses did not have blinds, and that affected the quality of their sleep. But Greco’s research field was precisely the dream, so his problem became inspiration and decided to solve a doubt that had arisen: Do night masks help our sleep?
Putting on a night mask, the kind that covers our eyes so that the light from our environment does not affect our sleep, can improve the quality of our sleep and thus help us perform better in various tasks the next day, according to experiments carried out by Greco and his team.
Through two experimentsthe researchers analyzed the effects of sleeping with a mask and observed that when the participants in their experiments slept with masks on, they performed better some tasks proposed by the researchers the following day. These tasks measured learning ability in a word association exercise; and a psychomotor vigilance test with which the capacity for attention and alertness was analyzed.
The researchers observed this improvement in both experiments, but in the second they included a more exhaustive analysis of the sleep of the participants through photometers in the rooms and electroencephalograms that allowed more precise study of the sleep phases. Details of the study have recently been published in the form of a magazine article sleeping.
Thanks to this, the researchers were able to better understand the possible reason behind the association between mask use and better subsequent performance. The participants who used eye mask they didn’t sleep for a long time, the key was in the deepest phase of sleep.
Thanks to this, the researchers were able to better understand the possible reason behind the association between mask use and better subsequent performance. The participants who used the mask did not sleep for longer, the key was in the deepest phase of sleep.
Although the use of the mask did not make the participants sleep longer, it did manage to prolong the sleep phase of slow waves or non-REM phase 3. This phase of sleep is usually associated with growth, memory and even with the proper functioning of the immune system. Also It’s a phase where we can dreamalthough dreams are more associated with the rapid eye movement (REM) phase.
The result is not entirely surprising. We know that light is one of the key factors for our “biological clock”, which controls our daily cycles of wakefulness and sleep. The light we receive is related to the time of day when we begin to secrete melatonin, a hormone that prepares us for sleep.
Of course, closing the blind can prevent us from having to resort to masks, at least in most cases. Not even the blinds or similar elements such as shutters always allow full darkness, even more so in presence of electronic devices and other sources of light that may be present in our bedrooms. That is why the possibility of using a mask can be useful even where blinds are the norm.
Image | Victoria_Watercolor