When it comes to eye masks for better, uninterrupted sleep, I've found people have strong feelings. You either can't stand the feeling of something on your face when you sleep (and end up ripping the thing off sometime during the middle of the night) or you're so obsessed with your eye mask, you can't sleep without it. I fall into the latter camp, and I may be even more extreme: I've been known to order some of my favorite eye masks for tired friends and family on Amazon, without being asked.
So when I got the opportunity to test nodpod ($25, amazon.com), I jumped at the chance. The sleep mask combines two interesting ideas: Blocking light from your tired eyes, plus gentle pressure. Think a weighted blanket for your face.
Like weighted blankets, the nodpod is meant to harness the power of touch. Filled with microbeads, it softly distributes weight across a wearer's face. While there hasn't been much research into clinically proven benefits of weighted blankets (or eye masks, for that matter), online reviewers seem to really like these products–and use them to ease anxiety and insomnia. "It can feel nice and luxurious—like a big hug—and that may be helpful for some people," Jeneane Solz, PhD, an instructor of psychology at Columbia University Medical Center, told Health in a prior interview.
A big hug sounds nice, right? And who isn't looking for easy ways to get more and better sleep?
Unlike my usual sleep mask, one end of the nodpod slips into a hole on the other end. There's no way to fasten the thing snuggly around your head. Amazon reviewers with migraines say this is a good thing–they don't have to worry about the mask feeling too tight and causing or worsening pain. But I found it a little bothersome that the mask didn't stay put. During my first attempt, I inserted the fabric through the hole and tossed and turned all night, repeatedly awakening to pull the mask back over my eyes.
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Determined to do better on my second try, I draped the nodpod across my eyes with my head on my pillow the following night. This time, when I rotated from my back to my side to my back again, the mask remained relatively stable. (In fact, nodpod sells an exclusive version for $35 that snaps into the sides of an included pillowcase for just this reason.)
That night, the nodpod really did feel like a hug; there was something soothing and calming about the light pressure across my eyes and forehead, and I woke up surprised at how much I'd enjoyed the feeling.
Of course, this is no cure for a diagnosed sleep disorder or other condition, nor should it be used instead of proven treatment for something like insomnia or anxiety. But if you're Team Sleep Mask like me and curious, it's worth giving nodpod a try.