3D Breathable Sleep Mask - Product Review
One of the few things that everyone in the health and fitness world agree on is that SLEEP is probably the number one factor when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. Books like Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep has demonstrated irrefutably that a lack of sleep basically destroys our health.
Walker writes “Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Inadequate sleep – even moderate reductions for just one week – disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you could be classified as pre-diabetic. Short sleeping increases the likelihood of your coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle, setting you on a path toward cardiovascular disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure”.
I realise this all sounds pretty grim, but the importance of quality sleep really can’t be underemphasised. Some enlightened folks are even calling for doctors to prescribe it as medicine, so that people will start taking it seriously.
Enough with the depressing stuff, because let’s face it, life isn’t always conducive to good sleep (kids, stressful jobs and relationships, noisy neighbours etc) and the last thing you need to do is sleep even less stressing about whether you’re sleeping enough! But are there things that we can do to give ourselves the best chance possible for a good night’s sleep?
There’s a lot of good advice out there:
- Avoid looking at your screens before bedtime for as long as possible.
- Don’t eat too close to bedtime.
- Play pink noise on an app or try meditation.
- Make sure that your bedroom is cool enough.
- Wear blue-light blocking glasses.
- Sleep in a dark room.
These are all more or less manageable, but I’ve always found the “sleep in a dark room” advice to be a little challenging. Common suggestions include keeping devices out of the room (but what if there’s an emergency, or my phone is my alarm clock!), keep the door closed for outside light (well, the dog needs to go out), buy block-out curtains (this could turn into an expensive exercise or perhaps not practical if you’re renting). Not always as easy as we’d like to think.
The Science of Sleeping in the Dark
Each of us has an internal clock, which is called the circadian rhythm. It's a biological mechanism that regulates our sleep-wake cycles. When it's disrupted, it affects both the quality and quantity of our sleep.
The pineal glands in our brains produce a serotonin-derived hormone called melatonin, which is the hormone which regulates this sleep-wake cycle. It signals to your body that sleep time is approaching, so it causes you to start feeling sleepy, your muscles to relax and your body temperature to drop. After sundown, melatonin is automatically increasing and will peak at around 3am. As the sun rises, melatonin levels start to drop and remain low during daytime.
The reality of our modern lives is that we are mega-exposed to blue light, and blue light has the ability to block melatonin. Blue light is what we get from the sun (telling our bodies to wake up) but also in screens, indoor lights and all manner of other artificial lighting. This means that when we are exposed to them at night-time, our bodies are kinda confused because our hormones think that it’s daytime, so you should be awake.
Light is the most important external factor which affects our ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and enjoy quality of sleep (i.e. enough REM and deep sleep). This wasn’t an issue before the advent of electricity, because natural outside light doesn’t contain blue light.
Research shows that if you’re in a fully lit room right before bedtime, you will have a delayed and shortened production of melatonin compared to dim lighting. Any exposure to light at night which results in poor sleep has further been linked to:
- Depression and anxiety: blue light impacts mood and a lack of sleep makes you irritable
- Obesity and weight gain: obesity is more prevalent in people who sleep with the TV or a light on and it also makes us more susceptible to further weight gain, especially as you’re prone to eat more the next day or eat too close to bedtime
- Increased chronic illnesses: higher blood pressure, heart disease and Type II Diabetes
Restorative sleep, on the other hand, allows for repair of the brain and body, muscle recovery, fighting off illness and improvements in mood. Exposure to light during sleep (and there is evidence that blue light can penetrate your eyelids) inhibits melatonin production and also makes it harder to achieve deeper sleep. The lighter you sleep, the more your brain oscillations (i.e. activity) are negatively affected.
How Do I Limit My Light Exposure At Night?
I read about this stuff, a lot. I got the block-out curtains because my bedroom window faces a street with light. I even use a bit of double-sided tape to make sure that the curtain is snug against the wall and doesn’t allow for gaps. I’m not super pedantic about it, but given all the research I’ve done on sleeping well, it’s one of the most effective things that I can do enhance my sleep as measured by my Oura ring, a device for monitoring sleep quality.
It works well, but there always seems to be some niggly light from outside, but I can deal with that. The problem comes in when I stay over at other places, be that after a braai or when travelling or whatever reason, which happens quite frequently for me.
At first, I didn’t worry about it too much, I can’t really control the light in someone else’s house. But it was becoming quite frequent, so I hauled out one of the sleep masks I got on a plane once. It was OK, I just generally don’t like stuff on my face touching my cheeks and it bugs my lashes during the night! However, it was an acceptable solution and worth the trade-off (I say that for fear of being called a princess!).
All that changed when I was introduced to the 3D Breathable Sleep Mask…
My Review of the 3D Breathable Sleep Mask: Gimmick or Sleep Gold?
This type of thing could easily be a gimmick to sucker in all us biohackers who fringe on the obsessive about enhancing our sleep quality. However, when I first got it, I though it might be useful for said lash problem, so why not give it a go.
From the moment I put it on my face, it felt completely different from any other sleep mask. The 3D element means that the parts that cover your eyes are raised, so even if you open your eyes with it on, you can’t feel anything on your eyes, it’s really cool! The adjustable strap around your head is super comfortable and soft, so unlike some other masks, you don’t feel any pressure around your head or ears, which has annoyed me with other masks.
It fits snugly, so literally zero light comes in. Nadda. Zilch. The material feels very soft and luxurious (especially on your cheeks) and stays perfectly intact even after washing. You might wonder how someone can get so excited about a sleep mask, but I’ve been telling people that wearing this mask feels like getting a hug! Judge me if you want, but the mask feels really comforting (this coming from someone who doesn’t even like wearing sunglasses!). And truth be told, I now sleep with this mask on even in my own bedroom which I’ve managed to make very dark, because I just like the way that it feels!
3D Breathable Sleep Mask
- Ergonomic comfort design
- Zero pressure to the eyes
- Complete Light Blocking
- Premium memory foam
- Adjustable Strap with Velcro
- Blink friendly
- One Size fits all
- Sports fabric for maximum breathing
I know of biohackers who ruthlessly go through a hotel room when they arrive and put masking tape on every little light they can find, from the little red light on the TV screen to taping windows or gaps under the door. Extreme, sure, but it shows you how important a dark room is. With this 3D mask, I think that is all completely unnecessary! It has an extremely innovative design (which says a lot for a sleep mask), the comfort is next-level and all in all, one of my favourite discoveries!!
- Thea is the founder of Neolaia – Biohacking SA and passionate about all things biohacking, functional medicine, holistic and ancestral wellness. She enjoys the occasional triathlon, is fanatic about yoga and the gym and loves n=1 biohacking experiments more than anything else! Learning about the latest in scientific research for health and wellness and applying this knowledge is what makes her happiest!