I travel a lot for work. I enjoy wandering around new cities and meeting new people, but I’ve found that the constant travel wreaks havoc on my sleep schedule. Between the flight delays, the job stress, the absence of my trusty weighted blanket and the anguish that comes from realizing the pillow beside me is NOT my perfect angel dog, I’ve laid awake for hours in many strange hotel rooms trying (and failing) to will myself to sleep.
Unfortunately, I am not one of those people who claims to need just a few hours of shut-eye to function. In fact, without a solid seven to eight hours under my belt, I’m just one bite away from being a zombie. Because my job in public relations requires me to be “on” all the time, having to slog my way through work on the fumes of slumber is not ideal.
Through trial and error, I eventually discovered that using an eye mask in tandem with a mildly interesting podcast was the key to making myself fall asleep in strange places. The mask blocks out light and helps me pretend I’m home in my own bed, and the soothing sound of someone explaining the history of sugar or theorizing about ancient aliens forces me to think about something other than my morning to-do list.
For a while, I was DIY-ing this solution by wrapping a long (clean!) sock around my eyes and stuffing earbuds underneath. Unfortunately, the earbuds were not comfortable for a side sleeper like me, the sock tended to come off overnight, and because Apple decided the lighting port should be both the charger and the headphone jack (why?!), my iPhone was always dead in the morning. Not a great way to kick off an event-filled work trip.
That’s when I did what any red-blooded modern American would do: I turned to Amazon. I ordered a Bluetooth sleeping mask that had some promising reviews. It turned out to be well worth the $25 price tag.
The mask is made of a soft, velvety material, and it has adjustable velcro straps that keep it snug around my head all night. It is thick enough to block out all light, and the flat speakers sit comfortably against my ears and can’t be heard by anyone who isn’t wearing the mask, which is good news for partners who are light sleepers.
I really didn’t expect the battery to last as long as it does, given its inexpensive price. On my last trip I used it to snooze on a three-hour plane ride, then had it on for another eight hours while I slept at my hotel. When I climbed into bed the following evening and turned it on, the battery was still at 75%. Typically it can last about four days with no charge, and it only takes about an hour to get it back into fighting form.
The mask also has a built-in microphone, so when I want to hear my partner’s voice before bed when I’m on the road, I can call him and chat like he’s lying there next to me. And because the headphones are Bluetooth, my phone can be charging across the room all night.
Whether you travel a lot or just need a way to make daytime naps easier, this mask could be the sleep solution you’ve been looking for. In fact, I love it so much that I actually ordered a replacement to my hotel room when I left mine at home on a recent business trip to Austin. Now I have one for home and one for travel. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.