Can Wearing an Eye Mask to Sleep Tonight Boost Your Brain Function Tomorrow?

Can Wearing an Eye Mask to Sleep Tonight Boost Your Brain Function Tomorrow?

Do you want to get up in the morning feeling alert and mentally prepared? Well, wearing an eye mask can be life-changing for you. According to a study involving 122 participants over two experiments, blocking out ambient light while you are sleeping can improve alertness and memory the following day.

A recent study published in the journal Sleep suggests that the simple act of wearing an eye mask to block out light while sleeping can improve cognitive function the next day. In two experiments, the researchers found that participants who slept with an eye mask showed enhanced episodic memory encoding and alertness the following day.

The study authors, from institutions in the UK, Italy, and the US, say that this is further evidence of the link between light and sleep – and that controlling the former can help in managing the latter.

In the first experiment, 89 adults ages 18 to 35 wore an eye mask (the intervention) while sleeping for one week. After getting used to wearing the mask for the first five days, the participants underwent a series of lab tests to log their recall and reaction time for the final two days.

For the second experiment, 33 adult volunteers between ages 18 and 35 spent two nights sleeping with an eye mask (the intervention) and then two nights sleeping with an eye mask with cutouts so that no fabric covered the subjects' eyes (the control). This was intended to make sure the results weren’t impacted by the overall feeling of wearing a mask.

As with the first study, participants who wore the complete mask performed better on the paired word tasks. 

Researchers found that the subjects who wore the masks performed better on a word-pair association task, which measures the ability to recall events and experiences, and on a psychomotor vigilance test that measures behavioral alertness and sustained attention. These results suggest that the sleep mask was associated with better episodic memory encoding and alertness, wrote the authors.