The Gift of Rest - Eye Pillow Benefits for Stress and Sleep

Do you feel stressed? Exhausted? Unable to sleep? Welcome to the 5-minute miracle worker – the humble eye pillow.  

What does an eye pillow do?

Eye pillows aren’t just for soothing tired eyes. They can actually help us to relax more deeply, to improve our mood and our sleep, and even to experience a deeper connection to others. The right eye pillow helps you create an oasis moment - 5 minutes away from your screen and the demands of daily life to close your eyes and truly rest. Anchor your senses in the present moment. Feel warm, comforted and connected. Breathe. 

How does an eye pillow work?

Here comes the science bit…

The eye pillow exerts gentle pressure on the eyelids, stimulating the vagus nerve (the main balancer of the parasympathetic nervous system), sending calming messages down the back of the neck to the shoulders and chest, heart and stomach; giving the mind and body permission to relax – to let go. 

This, the "Oculocardiac Reflex", decreases blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and relaxation. Just what you need before you go to sleep, or as a refresher in the middle of the day. 

Beyond the physical…

There are also benefits which are less easy for scientists to measure. To share my own experience, in say a Yoga Nidra or Restorative Yoga class, I find that with a yoga eye pillow I am able to go deeper into my yoga practice – and myself. The removal of light, stimulation and tension enables me to connect to myself and others more easily – even people I have been struggling with (!). Even 5 or 10 minutes is enough to connect to my own inner wisdom, to generate new insights into my life, and to expand my experience of what is possible for me. 

That’s why I decided to create eye pillows embroidered with reminders of what’s important to me, and to all of us – peace, love, happiness, the breath and, of course, “namaste” – the light in me shines for the light in you. An essential little word with big meaning – perfect for a yoga eye pillow! 

How to use an eye pillow

Use an eye pillow for five minutes whenever you need to rest. Close your eyes and feel the weight of the pillow anchor you, melting away all that stress and tension. Breathe, relax and find your happy. Return to the world reconnected, refreshed and restored.

How to use a lavender eye pillow

Use a lavender eye pillow to help with tension headaches, anxiety and insomnia. Heat it up in the microwave or oven for a wonderfully warming relaxation, or to relieve dry eyes strained by a long day in front of a screen. Cool it in the freezer to reduce puffiness and swelling and the appearance of dark circles.

How to choose your eye pillow… 

What’s inside an eye pillow 

The filling is an important consideration. At YogaClicks we’ve chosen to use wheat as the filling – because a weighted eye pillow exerts gentle pressure and fits the contours and curves of your eyes and face nicely, without being overly heavy. Wheat also retains heat really well, if you want to intensify the experience by warming the eye pillow in the microwave or oven first. Of course, we use organic wheat to make sure there are no nasty chemicals anywhere near your eyes, or on the delicate skin around your eyes. 

We also offer the eye pillow with and without lavender. We do that because some people prefer to add their own essential oils to make more of an aromatherapy eye pillow – we recommend calming Frankincense, Geranium and Ylang Ylang for stress and anxiety. Shop our essential oils here

Living in East Anglia, we know that there’s nothing like the sight and smell of a field of Norfolk lavender to lift our spirits. Consulting with an aromatherapist bore this feeling out; we learnt that not only is lavender considered to be excellent for relaxation and releasing headaches, but it’s also thought to be good for anxiety and depression. That’s why we use several spoonfuls of the finest Norfolk lavender in every lavender eye pillow – ensuring that the aroma stays with you and the benefits are every bit as good as they can be.   

Heaven and Earth Mala Necklace

The cover of your eye pillow

Given the sensitivity of the eyes to chemicals, and the skin around the eyes, we strongly suggest choosing a natural fabric. Avoid the feel of anything ‘silky’, which might well turn out to be a polyester. Polyesters use harsh dyes, because the fibre won’t bond with anything subtle, and the manufacturers use harsh chemicals to soften them up. Traces of these chemical processes get stuck in the fabric and can easily transfer onto you, entering through the thin skin around your eyes, as you lie there trying to relax. Both harsh chemicals and harsh dyes are not only bad for you, they are also very bad for the environment and the people that have to handle them. 

Hopefully we’ve persuaded you to choose a natural fabric, but beware regular cotton – it isn’t much better. Conventionally grown cotton requires lots of synthetic fertilizers. Much of it ends up in the water, creating one of the world’s worst pollution problems, leading to oxygen free dead zones, making it impossible for aquatic communities to survive. 

Organic cotton is one option, but, being an ethical and sustainable yoga shop, we wanted to go for the ultimate eco-friendly eye pillow. So we chose linen. Linen is made from flax fibres and is one of the most biodegradable and recyclable fabrics out there. It hates chemicals – it actually makes the crops weaker when they are treated with chemicals, so they aren’t. All it needs is rainwater to thrive. It’s strong so it doesn't need starching during spinning and weaving, and this strength means it will last much longer than cotton so it’s less likely to end up in landfill; in fact, it gets stronger every time it’s washed! And it absorbs moisture without holding bacteria – which makes it a good choice around sensitive and infection-prone eyes. 

Sarah teaching at Henham Barns

Why choose a YogaClicks eye pillow

The softest of French flax linens. The soft weight of organic wheat. The scent of Norfolk lavender. The embroidered reminders of what’s truly important in life - Peace, Love, Happiness. The reminder to Breathe. The YogaClicks eye pillow is designed to help you create an oasis moment wherever you are. Carry one in your bag to use anytime. 

Sarah teaching at Henham Barns

How to clean and wash your eye pillow

Just remove the outer cover and pop it in the machine at 30 degrees. Use a warm iron to press it. If you want to sanitise the inner bag pop it in the freezer for an hour. 

Namaste. 

Sarah teaching at Henham Barns

Further reading

In 2005, the FDA approved the use of vagus nerve stimulation for depression and anxiety. To read the Vagus Nerve Stimulation Clinical Studies click here.

Lucy Edge 

is a yoga advocate and writer with three yoga books to her name, including the beloved travel memoir Yoga School Dropout. She writes regularly for the national press, has authored over 150 guides to types of yoga and yoga poses, discovered nearly 250 proven health benefits of yoga through her painstaking classification of 300 clinical studies, and collected more than 500 personal testimonials to the real life benefits of yoga. She is also the creator of our yoga shop – YogaClicks.Store – handpicking yoga brands that are beautifully made by yogis committed to environmental and social sustainability.

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