ALTHOUGH THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP DURATION WAS DISCUSSED IN A RECENT BLOG POST ON BONE HEALTH, reading about importance of sleep in general can add frustration to those already frustrated by sleep difficulties. As someone who regularly struggles with sleep quality issues, learning about sleep can be anxiety provoking and have a reverse effect on efforts to improve it. Especially when personal experiences line up with unhealthy situations described in scientific articles. Therefore, information that provides advice or suggests aids which can be implemented without turning life upside down offers the most hope; little tweaks rather than drastic changes.
The latest potential tweak that might help some with sleep challenges is a simple aid, a weighted sleep mask.
Weighted sleep masks for children with were discussed by psychologist Daniel Sher M.A. in a November 2019 article for parentingpod.com. He explained that the masks work to improve sleep by blocking light, like all sleep masks are designed to do, which helps maintain melatonin levels that promote sleepiness. In addition, the masks provide deep pressure stimulation that reduces the nervous system response which maintain alertness and a sense of anxiety. The ‘evenly distributed pressure” across the eye area stimulates the alternate nervous system response that assists with feeling calm.
Weighted blankets, also used as a sleep aid by some, are thought to trigger similar calming responses. Snuggly wrapped vests, modeled to perform like infant swaddling blankets, are designed to settle anxious pet friends by delivering "gentle, constant pressure" and likely fall into the same category. Sher, a clinical psychologist, reviews 10 weighted sleep mask products in this article, “A Psychologist’s Guide to Weighted Sleep Masks: Do They Work? And Why?”
I chose #9, the Gravity™ brand, to trial.
I found this mask helped when I was traveling and in an unfamiliar environment, or on nights at home when falling asleep was difficult. The weight really does have a calming effect on me. I put in on when I had a headache, but after taking headache medication too and can't say that it was an effective cure. I’m pleased enough with the results to keep it for just for sleep.
There don't seem to be any contraindications or side effects, so it is a relatively risk-free remedy. I am hoping it will reduce wake-up eye puffiness too but have yet to perform a thoughtful test.
Air travelers should be aware that the glass beads in the Gravity™ mask showed up like plastic explosives would on the airport scanner when I went through security! My carry-on luggage was wiped down and searched on my way out of town. Consider taking it out of your bag and placing it in the bowl to be x-rayed separately if you don’t pack it in checked luggage.
This type of product might be something to try for personal use or as a gift for someone else. Prices vary, but deals can be found this time of the year; the range might fit your gifting budget for a loved one who potentially might be helped, at least in some circumstances.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOTE: I happened across an interesting article from 2005 that explained the sleep-wake cycle from a unique perspective. Not sure the science is up-to-date, 14 years later, but the concepts described in this piece will serve as a jumping off point for my future searches on the topic.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. In 1978 I began participating in 10K road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health and longevity.
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