16 Mar What do eye pillows do?
For years I have been amazed by the effect of gently placing an eye pillow over the eyes of massage clients when they are laying on their back; watching their breathing slow, their body relax and feeling a sense of quiet calm come over them.
Well, it turns out, there is some science behind it!
We have a number of cranio-nerves which originate from our skull (or cranium, as the name suggests). A very important one of these nerves – and one that is gaining more mention – is the vagus nerve.
Our vagus nerve starts in our brain; it travels from our noggin (technical term), down our neck, through our chest and into our stomach and digestive tract (or, tummy, for those who prefer the technical jargon). The vagus nerve is responsible for what is often referred to as our ‘gut brain’ or ‘belly brain’; it assists in regulation of our digestion, heart rate and our mood.
The vagus nerve is the primary messenger to our parasympathetic or ‘rest and digest’ system (which you can learn more about here). This system helps our body to deeply relax, and is at its most active when we are asleep.
And, whaddya know: A highly effective way to stimulate said vagus nerve is by applying light pressure to your eyes. This switches on your oculocardiac reflex, which slows your heart rate and breathing. (I wonder, might this explain the commonly assumed “I’m stressed” position of dropping our head into our hands, with palms pressed into our eye sockets?*)
So, to encourage a deep relaxation, sound sleep or just a super blissful meditation – try an eye pillow! When restless in bed, an eye pillow with a few drops of lavender pressed onto your closed eyes can be incredibly calming and a useful tool to help bring on the Zzz’s.
We love stocking locally made lupin eye pillows by Wili Heat Bags at Clarity, they are made from beautiful fabrics and have a nice weightiness about them (and, unlike wheat bags, they don’t get sweaty and funky-smelling!). But, you can find a range of different options out there, go forth and find one which works for you!
Be Snug, Be Well, Seek Clarity.
*This was a rhetorical question….maybe one for the next blog!?