Like 60 million other Americans each year, Laura Gillum suffers from insomnia. She explains, "I tried using pillows over my head. I've tried even darkened rooms and things like that just don't seem to really help too much."
But she's found the rest she needs by using a specialized sleep mask. It does much more than just cover her eyes. She says, "It has foam on the inside so that when you apply to your face it lets no outside light in. It has a button that you can set on it so that it simulates sunsetting."
It's called the Illumy from Sound Oasis. It claims to use gently dimming light to help re-adjust your inner body clock, or circadian rhythm, and prompts the production of melatonin.
"Melatonin is an important chemical for timing our sleep with day and night cycles. We want bright environments during the day when we wake up and when we work. And on the flipside, when we get ready to go to bed at night, we went relatively darker environments so any mask that's sort of manipulating light or blocking light could have a huge impact on your ability to sleep at night," says Dr. Christopher Winter, a sleep specialist.
There are other eye shades that use light in a similar way to attempt to reset your internal body clock. They include the Lumos and the Dreamlight, but the Dreamlight also uses infrared light to boost blood circulation around the eyes, improving skin's appearance, tracks your heart rate, and includes embedded headphones that feed audio-meditation and sleep soundscapes.
Dr. Winter says the science behind this technology shows it could help all kinds of people, from travelers with jet lag, to night shift workers, to teens who may struggle with sleep.
He explains, "Pulsing or exposing an individual to light is one of the ways that we get people to sort of more quickly get over things like jet lag or shift work."
But doesn't having something wrapped around your head actually make it harder to sleep?
Laura says her mask is super comfortable and she doesn't like to go a night without it.
"I take it everywhere with me just in case there have been instances where I haven't worn it, but I seem to not get a good quality of sleep when I don't wear it."
These souped up sleep masks range in cost from $100 to $300.