A solid night’s sleep is a major key to good health and achieving success in pretty much everything you do — even maintaining your relationship. Clocking enough hours can be tough to accomplish when you’re crazy busy or stressed though. I totally get it; between work and lots of travel, I’ve been feeling frazzled for the last few months. Like so many others, I notice that my sleep is the first thing to suffer when I’m overwhelmed. Since falling asleep seems to be my biggest issue with bedtime, I decided to try a smart sleep mask that mimics sunsets/sunrises, using something called “sleep enhance pacing” to try to restore my bod’s natural rhythms. I dedicated myself to wearing the mask for a full week as an experiment. Here’s how it went!
Brought to life on Indiegogo, the positively reviewed illumy sleep mask is pretty comfy to hold and lighter than I’d expect. It has adjustable straps, so I figure out what feels the best and then do a quick test to see how I feel lying down in various positions. I’m usually a side sleeper and a little worried this might be uncomfortable, but it feels pretty good when I try. Next, I charge and set up my mask; this is surprisingly simple to do with the illumy app. (You can also program it on the web with your computer.) I choose my alarm, alarm chime, sunset, and sunrise, and sync the mask with a single button. Here we go!
Even with the gently dimming red “sunset” light and slow pulses designed to relax me into sleep, I feel like I stayed awake for a while after putting on the mask last night. I can’t be sure how long I lay there, because I didn’t take the mask off to look at my cellphone clock like I usually do when stressing. If nothing else, I feel like this is a good benefit of the mask, as I tend to hop back on my phone or computer in bed when I feel like I can’t sleep, which is basically a bad cycle. In terms of wearability, I’m pretty impressed that the mask stayed on my face and don’t remember *any* discomfort from the edges or the strap. Since I naturally woke up several times (ugh) before the mask prompted me to, I’m still not sure how well it works. Here’s to carrying on!
Though I’m definitely falling asleep a little bit better (I still think a lot of this comes from keeping away from my phone and computer and committing to sleep), I’m still not sleeping through the night. After reading more testimonials, I try to modify the brightness a little bit each night. To be honest, it doesn’t make much of a difference.
While I’ve definitely come to enjoy the gentle pulses and red sunset that dims, I still haven’t been able to experience the mimic sunrise because I’ve woken up so many times before the day actually starts. I’m not sure if this is because I’m nervous the sunrise simulation *won’t* actually wake me up like it’s supposed to (so I wake myself up first) or if it’s for other reasons like body aches from working out, hunger, noise, etc.
I’m traveling across the country for work today and figure the mask will be perfect to block out light and hopefully catch some extra zzz’s on my early-morning flight. Prepping ahead of time, I program it to match my preferences and am stoked to find that I pass out super-fast on the airplane and sleep for hours — something I can never do. Just as exciting, I wake up with the natural blue light sunrise for the first time ever! It was so gentle and much more pleasant than a jarring alarm sound, and it worked perfectly to bring me back to life. So cool.
Busy on the first day of my whirlwind work trip, I totally forget to charge my mask, which means I’ll have to do without it on the last night of my experiment. My hotel has pretty good blackout curtains, so light isn’t an issue, but without the mask I feel way more tempted to reach for my phone when I don’t nod off immediately. Luckily, the day has worn me out, so it doesn’t take too much longer to start snoozing. I wake up a few times in the night as usual, but that’s nothing the mask has helped me with so far anyway.
Interestingly, illumy’s website says that some people who love the mask wear it during very specific times, like during travel or brighter times of year — not necessarily every day. Given my experience, I think that makes total sense! I love the mask for falling asleep and on flights, but don’t know that I need or will continue to use it every single night. I’m hopeful that I’ll establish even better routines and natural rhythms with its help, eventually reaching a place where I can relax just by closing my eyes.
Would you try a smart sleep mask? Tell us what you think about the idea or share similar experiences on Twitter @BritandCo.
(Photos via illumy and Getty)