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Sleeping Mask = Improved Sleep

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Not sleeping, can't sleep, can't stay asleep, awake all night, exhausted, fatigued, tired.... ya, ya, ya....

I believe that the treatments (chemo, rads, meds etc.) have a way to alter our central nervous system somehow, someway and this residual effect steals our ability to have quality sleep. By total fluke I was asked a month ago, "When you close your eyes to go to sleep at night what do you see?" So, I said I see "green" lights and "purple" lights (wrong answer, there should be "no" lights). Yes, when you close your eyes to go to sleep, it should be pitch, pitch black. The "lights" were an indication of an over-active nervous system.

I was told to find a sleeping mask. I tried several, and found that only the 100% silk masks were comfortable (satin, and other unnatural fibers will cause your face to perspire at night with them on). I had a really hard time finding a mask, and the only one I could find locally had "good girl" written on one side, and "bad girl" on the reverse side. My husband killed himself laughing.

The quality and quantity of my sleep has improved greatly >50%, enough so that friends and family are noticing and tell me I look "so much better".

So, I pretend I am a movie star, and put on my "good girl" mask before I go to sleep at night.... hee... hee... I hope this little tid bit might help others too. Not sure why it works, but it does.

Best Wishes!

Comments

  • debiann
    debiann Member Posts: 447
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    I too found that I fall asleep and stay asleep better with a sleep mask! It is so refreshing to get a good night's sleep.

  • ShetlandPony
    ShetlandPony Member Posts: 3,063
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    I just drape a soft dark-colored sock over my eyes! Often I am awake for a couple hours during the night or very early morning, and I can get back to sleep for a while in the late morning if I use the sock mask.

  • t9jorda
    t9jorda Member Posts: 23
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    This was interesting, thought I'd share it too...t9jordaHappy


    Can't Sleep? 3 Benefits of a Sleep Mask

    Millions of people across the United States suffer from sleep problems. Either they can't sleep all the way through the night or have trouble getting to sleep in the first place. There are many different tools that are used to improve sleep, including the sleep mask. A sleep mask is a lightweight mask made of fabric that is meant to comfortably fit around your head and cover your eyes at night while you sleep. Although some people complain that they are uncomfortable, those who use them regularly will swear by their benefits. Here are 3 benefits of a sleep mask that even research supports:

    1. Elevated Melatonin Levels. A 2010 Study published by BioMed Central Ltd.,(1) took a look at patients in the ICU to determine if the use of sleep masks (eye masks) would be beneficial to their sleep. Because these patients often can't sleep due to bright lights and loud noises, they wanted to see if using a sleep mask would be beneficial. They found that not only did the sleep mask block out the light and promote healthy sleep, but it also resulted in an increase of nocturnal melatonin levels. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the brain that regulates your body's internal sleep-wake cycles. Because darkness signals the body to produce more melatonin, the sleep mask is helpful in creating that effect.
    2. Increased Longer Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep. The average adult spends about 20% of his/her sleep in REM. This is the deep sleep cycle where dreams happen. Unfortunately, those who can't sleep well do not get as much REM as others. Smoking or drinking alcohol can also contribute to less REM sleep. The same 2010 study from BioMed Central(1) also found that using a sleep mask can increase the length of time we spend in REM, and REM latency (how many REM cycles experienced in one night). This is an important benefit of sleep masks. Almost all people who can't sleep well suffer from too little REM sleep, which is hard for the body to recover from.
    3. Affordability. In the big picture, billions of dollars are spent every year to help improve the night for those who can't sleep. A separate study published in October 2007(2) found that not only were eye masks helpful, but so affordable that it should be a matter of routine nursing practice to offer them and instruct patients on how to use them. At the time, eye masks and ear plugs could be provided for less than $3.50 per pair. Of course, now they have an enormous amount of designs that are trendy and cute. However, a simple and basic eye mask is an affordable option for someone who can't sleep well and is looking for help.

    The sleep mask is beneficial to more than just people who can't sleep well. It also helps travelers who find themselves in different time zones and needing sleep when it's still light outside. If you have a job that requires you to work during the night and sleep during the day the sleep mask may also benefit you by providing a better sense of darkness to your body. Though some people find it difficult to wear a sleep mask, most report it becomes easier after a few tries. Don't give up immediately if you can't sleep. Give the sleep mask a few days and see if you start to feel the benefits.

    References:
    1. Hu, R. F., et al. "Effects of earplugs and eye masks on nocturnal sleep, melatonin and cortisol in a simulated intensive care unit environment." Crit Care14.2 (2010): R66.
    2. Richardson, Annette, et al. "Earplugs and eye masks: do they improve critical care patients' sleep?." Nursing in critical care 12.6 (2007): 278-286.


    Above article is available at link below

    https://www.sleep360.com/cant-sleep-3-benefits-sleep-mask/

  • cider8
    cider8 Member Posts: 472
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    nice article! I wear a sleep mask made by Bucky and I've been giving them away as gifts! This one has cupped eyes so you can open your eyes without feeling fabric on your lids or lashes. And cute prints. I found mine at Marshalls but I see Whole Foods sells them.

    I can't sleep without my mask (or should I say I much prefer it) and I love it. I believe it improved my sleep (but I still need more improvement)

  • farmerlucy
    farmerlucy Member Posts: 596
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    I ordered one last week because of this thread. Ahhhh. So nice to get a great restorative night's sleep. Mine came from Amazon. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • justmaximom15
    justmaximom15 Member Posts: 89
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    I love my sleep mask! SO tends to watch tv in bed which I hate and he needs a nightlight so he doesn't stub his toe on a midnight trip to the bathroom. I like total darkness. Mine is also contoured away from eyes and lashes and I got it at Ulta for around $12. Love it! Of course, I'm not a still sleeper so I've usually lost it in the bed by morning.

  • t9jorda
    t9jorda Member Posts: 23
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    Another good take away...ThumbsUp t9jorda


    Buy A Nice Sleep Mask! It's an Investment in Your Health

    By Jessica Becker

    December 13, 2010

    Research shows that sleeping in total darkness allows your body to produce as much of the hormone melatonin as possible. This is good because when your production of melatonin drops, you are at greater risk of breast and/or colorectal cancer and other health risks.

    Read more of this article here....

    http://center4research.org/healthy-living-prevention/buy-a-nice-sleep-mask-its-an-investment-in-your-health/

  • t9jorda
    t9jorda Member Posts: 23
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    MMMMM... a beauty benefit too!

    I did not know that without a sleep mask people tend to push their face into a pillow or sheets. Wearing a sleep mask is apparently very helpful in preventing unwanted pillow and sheet creases from forming around the eyes, temples and cheeks! Love it! These creases can tend to cause wrinkles or damage the skin. The use of mask can help subside this issue. My dear husband has even noticed the difference.

    I learned that with higher quality masks made from softer fabrics, one can apply moisturizers under the eyes immediately before wearing the mask to help hold in the moisture and condition the skin. So of course I have been trying this too...and... I have to tell you this, the ugly black bags under my eyes, are now only a dull grey. I seriously do not understand "what" this mask is doing to my little being, but what the heck, if I can look better and feel better, I will TAKE IT!

    I am feeling a wee bit in awe about what has been happening... nine years with no sleep, and finally something that is helping! And it is not a pill! And it is natural! And why oh why did no one tell me about this before!!!!

    Seriously, if you are reading this, give it a try, you never know if it will be a game changer for you too. t9jorda

  • t9jorda
    t9jorda Member Posts: 23
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    Good morning... so... after 15 years of breast cancer, and 15 years of wearing a sleeping mask I am now a ripe age of 57... but do not look it at all... not even close. I have a cousin who is 13 years younger than I am, and we look the same age. I don't have crows feet, nor any wrinkles on my face...na da... and I am asked what have I done:

    1.) Daily sunscreen - 365 days of the year.

    2.) Silk Sleeping Mask (I sleep well now, 7-8 hrs a night) I can not sleep without the mask, otherwise it returns to a disruptive sleep pattern.

    3.) No alcohol - (I am allergic to it)

    4.) 2 Flax Oil, 2 Fish Oil

    5.) I drink all the coffee/tea that I want too with no limits (it has never bothered my sleeping. I can have a double shot latte before bed and still fall asleep - I don't do that very often though (as I need a bathroom break in the night then ha! ha!).

    I have no idea what of the above is helping (or not), but whatever it is, it does work. Both with sleep and with wrinkles, and with life in general.

    In 2006, I was given 3 years tops to live with Triple Negative Breast Cancer... and 15 years later, I am still here... so many questions "why" of course. Has what I have done above helped? Who knows... but I feel very lucky and blessed, every single day.

    Blessings and hugs to all...


  • dutchiegirl
    dutchiegirl Member Posts: 76
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    t9jorda, so glad you’re doing well! I have had issues with sleep as well but very different from yours. Not sure if treatment did this to me, but I now have severe sleep apnea. I wear a mask …..a CPAP mask. Not sure I could even fit a sleep mask on, plus I’m sure I’d resemble Darth Vader if I did. For now, I’m using THC and CBD to help me sleep and I’m also taking 10 mg of melatonin and that really helps. My husband woke me up at 9:30 this morning. Guessing I slept for 11 hours or so. Yowza.

  • t9jorda
    t9jorda Member Posts: 23
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    Dear Dutch Girl - I am a Canadian too, on Vancouver Island.

    I loved your note re: CPAP cause... my dear husband wears a CPAP, and used to laugh at me while I was wearing my sleeping mask... so I challenged him to wear it a week too... and years later, he wears the sleeping mask and the CPAP... for him, like yourself, every bit of quality sleep is so so important.

    Healing requires lots of extra sleep, just like babies do, cells are regenerating... you were shorted so much sleep during treatment; for some of us it does literally take a few years before the energy bank is replenished. Treat yourself kindly... it will get better. Also keep a routine of every night I go to bed a X time 7 days a week... that has made a huge difference too as it helps to reset your circadian rhythms (again, just like babies do). That "do like babies do" advice came from a very wise Dr., too the point now, I will stop and ask myself "What would we do if I were a baby?"... rest, play, laugh, keep a specific routine, eating properly (babies don't eat junk food) and so on.... you are the parent to your inner baby!

    Best wishes


  • dutchiegirl
    dutchiegirl Member Posts: 76
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    Thanks t9jorda! I think we often feel like we should be “back to normal" (whatever THAT is!) at this point. But my body really does crave sleep and im happy to comply. I go to bed at 9 pm most evenings and rarely set my alarm. But the strange thing is, I have really bad dreams and have had since I was diagnosed. Guessing I still need to work some things out. It's a long road to recovery but im happy to be walking this road. And btw, I LOVE Vancouver Island. Lucky you

  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293
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    Oh neat, I've been thinking of trying a sleep mask.

    But wait what? What dr said 3 year life expectancy with stage 2 tnbc? Even 15 yrs ago that would not be a realistic prognosis. How unprofessional for a dr to say that :(

    Back to the mask - so what blend fabric is best??

  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,275
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    Just want to add one more thing to the sleep better mix, and that's a "happy light" (bright light therapy box). I've been using one for years - long before breast cancer, and I think it is a big part of the reason I never had sleep problems with treatment. It regulates circadian rhythms, melatonin, etc. I also go to bed at the same time every night and wake up about the same time every morning. Since treatment though, I do have to get up several times at night to use the bathroom, but I always go right back to sleep. (Have never figured out what aspect of treatment has me now having to get up at night and oncologist is no help, so I just live with it.)

    I've thought of trying a sleep mask also, and now I am even more motivated after reading the comments here. Thank you, 19jorda. I'm not on Vancouver Island, but just south in the Puget Sound area. I just love Victoria, but haven't been there in years.

  • t9jorda
    t9jorda Member Posts: 23
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    Good morning (Moth).... when buying a sleep mask only buy SILK. Why, because it breathes... the other fibres are warm, and uncomfortable.

    ....... get one, you will love it... it calms the brain, and allows for the best sleep ever... and it is a built in beauty treatment!

    Big Hugs to you...and remember that what they "tell" you, and what "happens" can be 2 different things... little miracles do happen, I know I got one... I am not hugely religious (don't go to church, but believe)... a friend started a prayer circle when I was sick, and it was shared, and reshared, until there were thousands of people praying for my wellness... and here I am... who knows eh? All, I know is I have been graced, by loving Dr.'s, scientists, and friends who have cared deeply, and I am so lucky... so far... so good. Little miracles are a good thing.


  • t9jorda
    t9jorda Member Posts: 23
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    Dutchie Girl... ah... those friggen bad dreams... I have this boogie man at the door dream, and he keeps ringing the doorbell. I actually get up to look, because I swear the doorbell rang, but nope... it's gone on for years, and I have lived in different homes... someone keeps ringing my mental bell. "Hello", "Hello".... what the heck eh! It's part of post traumatic stress, that we all get from treatment and may not even realize we have it... hence the sleep issues, dreams, anxiety.. and so on. So, sooth that inner baby... tell yourself, it's okay... and you'll be fine... talk to your brain just like you would a traumatized child... sooth, sooth, sooth... and do anything you possibly can to improve your sleep quality (new bed linens, pillows, and so on... make your bedroom a high end hotel room of comfort and joy).

    Hugs to your inner baby! Have a great day!

  • t9jorda
    t9jorda Member Posts: 23
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    Three Tree... love the light therapy box idea too, good on you for discovering that! Another tool for people to try out! Getting ones sleep patterns reset, and regulated help so much with health/healing in general. It is certainly "not" something taught in school, or by anyone really... but so, so important to get enough "quality" sleep. I have been following some of the "Long Covid" conversations on twitter, and you can see similar situations/side effects of what we as chemo patients went thru... those who have been effected strongly with Covid have a real healing process that they will patiently have to go thru, just like we do/did/still practice.

    The bathroom thing... funny you mention that.... me too! I know that that chemo's effect the central nervous system, and I just chalked up my mid sleep treks to the bathroom as a side effect from treatment... so minor in the grand scheme of things... I will take that side effect! I have a girlfriend who after chemo was really effected by the brain telling here "let's pee", so she now wears Depends fancy panties during the day - just in case... and it's no biggie. She said, once she started wearing them, she started to enjoy life again... oh my gosh, the things we learn to live with, and learn to appreciate eh.

    It's going to be an extreme heat wave here on Vancouver Island today, which is very unusual, and I am assuming the same thing for you in Puget Sound.

    All the best to you, and have a great day!

  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,275
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    t9jorda - How interesting about the long term Covid people and the similarities between what they may have to go through for the rest of their lives, and our situations. You just learn to adapt and share with others, and the doctors often aren't a lot of help. It's so good that we all have each other and forums like this (not that I think doctors should know about and be able to help with everything, but sometimes ...). Yeah, I have no idea why the treatment caused the bathroom trouble, but it did. It started with chemo and it has never stopped. Never had a problem before.

    Think I will look for silk in a mask, and I really appreciate your comments about the different styles and fabrics, because I might not have thought about that when looking for a mask.

    Yes, we are sharing the big heat wave this week-end! I think it's supposed to go into Monday and Tuesday even. I can already feel it here this morning. Monday is supposed to really be something. Stay cool up there, bet it's beautiful!

  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293
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    oh bummer I can't use silk. I'm vegan. Might look at rayon or cotton