Putting something warm over your eyes doesn’t sound particularly soothing. I blame all those pictures of people with bits of cucumber on their lids for the belief that cooling the eye area is better than applying some warmth. As a result, I’ve been missing out for ages. To save you from the same fate, I urge you, try a heated sleep mask. I tried one for the first time on the recommendation of Lisa, who uses Space Masks to relax on longhaul flights. I was skeptical at first. I can’t usually sleep with something on my face, and I didn’t find the idea of something self-heating on my eyes particularly appealing. Then I slipped one on and something magical happened. All the tension that had been hanging around my forehead and eye area melted away. I hadn’t been aware that I was holding tension there until it all flooded out. My eye strain disappeared. My face relaxed. Instead of my usual pre-sleep routine of running through all the doors and windows that might not be closed and thinking of everything I have to do the next day, I drifted off feeling entirely at peace. These masks didn’t just soothe my eyes, they somehow managed to soothe my anxious mind.
I was concerned that experience was just a one-night thing, the result of being very much in need of a decent night’s sleep. Then I tried it again another night, and the same thing happened. I felt as relaxed as I’d be post-massage. And another night, the same. This is down to a few key things. First off, the masks self-heat, quickly reaching the perfect level of warmth that fades away by the time you’ve drifted off. The heat feels soothing, but it also helps to relax the muscles in the face, getting rid of tension and strain. This is especially noticeable if, like me, you spend your days squinting at the screen. Feeling your eye strain fade away is glorious. Secondly, they’re scented with jasmine, which adds to the relaxation bit. They also have little loops that fit over your ears rather than one big band that goes around your head, which are a bonus. You know when something’s so life-changing that you run around telling all your friends about it? That’s me with these sleep masks. I’ve already handed out masks to my housemates, someone in the Metro.co.uk offices who is constantly exhausted (get some rest, please), and my significant other. Now I’m telling you about them, because anyone who’s feeling stressed, exhausted, and square-eyed deserves to try these and have a night when they feel all blissed out.
That being said, the masks aren’t perfect. Each one is single-use, making them a pricey habit (Space Masks are £15 for a box of five, so £3 for each mask) and one that can’t be great for the environment. I found some other eye masks that you can heat up yourself in the microwave and re-use, but annoyingly these aren’t scented, so don’t provide quite the same relaxing benefits as Space Masks. You could spray them with a lavender sleep spray as an easy fix. There are also cheaper versions of single-use sleep masks available. Optrex makes their own lavender scented warming eye masks for £9.99 for a box of five.