Eye masks are a common sight, be it on flights, or waiting rooms for they seem to be the perfect companions when you are looking to catch up on sleep. However, have you ever wondered about its benefits? Or whether, they have side effects? Youre about to find out.An eye mask, as the name suggests, is a mask made out of light, breathable fabric which is used to cover your eyes and block out any element that could disturb your sleep. Some benefits of eye masks are:1. Improved sleep qualityBy blocking out the extra light, eye masks help in the production of melatonin, which is a hormone linked to quality sleep. In technical terms, this is known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Complete darkness allows the brain to slow down its activities so one can gently drift off to sleep. It also helps set the bodys circadian rhythm, which is its natural sleep-wake cycle, further regulating its hormone levels.2. Minimises temptationsWhen we get into bed, its common for us to scroll through social media, just before we are set to sleep. However, with the eye mask on, youre more likely to focus on falling asleep than to think about where your gadgets and electronics are.3. Safety netDr Batul Patel, a dermatologist and director, The Bombay Skin Clinic, Mumbai, shares how eye masks are beneficial in preventing dry eyes. The air conditioning of the room, excessive use of computers, can cause dryness of the eyes, which may lead to one rubbing them involuntarily during the night. An eye mask acts as a physical barrier preventing this, and hence prevents damage to the under eye skin. This also aids in preventing fine lines, wrinkles and pigmentation, she says.A Few Things To Keep In MindSince youre wearing an eye mask for a minimum of seven to eight hours per night, Dr Patel points out certain things to keep in mind. Wearing a mask for very long can lead to clogging the pores and sometimes result in acne in an individual with oily skin. So, removing makeup and cleansing the skin before putting on an eye mask will prevent it. Avoid a heavy moisturiser as that could also lead the skin to breakout. Washing the eye mask every three to five days is also important to prevent any chance of eye infection, she advises.A common problem is the damage it can cause to your eyelashes. Dr Patel adds, Wearing eye masks for a long time has proven to be damaging to the eyelashes, and hence, can cause them to twist or break. If you apply mascara, make sure you remove it before putting an eye mask on. Ideally, try using them at intervals, but if you cant, and intend to use masks every day, Patel suggests using cotton ones instead of opting for polyester, and also washing them about two to three times before you use them so the material becomes softer.To get maximum benefits out of your eye mask, Dr Patel tells us which eye masks to opt for. Sleeping masks made of a breathable light cotton fabric are ideal as they arent harsh on your skin. Also, most importantly, the mask should be of the correct size and not tight. A tight mask could lead to eyelash damage and also under eye swelling, she signs off.