I was paired with Rhea for my design intervention project. After getting to know her schedule and visiting her apartment, I had one major takeaway for what needed improvement: her sleep schedule. Rhea lives with a roommate who arrives home at odd hours, turning lights on and making noise as she gets ready for bed. Though she’s asked her roommate several times to be considerate, her sleep remains interrupted, leaving her to turn to her sleep mask for help.
Her current mask is flimsy and thin, allowing a lot of light to enter through the covered portions. The mask is a standard shape with an elastic closure, meaning that light peeks in from many spots as it is not exactly form-fitting. Most importantly, the mask only targets vision, leaving the issue of sound untouched.
I set out to find a sleep mask that incorporates sound protection. I found two leading masks on the market: Hibermate and Lunya. Hibermate ($99.95) is a standard mask shape with large, separated ear muffs which bulge out from the head. Lunya ($49.99) is a fabric mask that has an elastic closure, fully wrapping around the head with cotton.
After asking for some user input, I concluded that Rhea sleeps mostly on her side, which would make the large ear muffs of Hibermate difficult. Lunya is a good solution, however, I wasn’t satisfied with its one-size-fits-all elastic closure as there were fit issues with her other elastic mask. I wanted to make a mask out of flexible fabric which has a velcro, adjustable closure.
My redesign features important fabrics: silk, cotton, and silicone. Silk is helpful as an external material as it prevents friction against the pillow as a large mask such as this may move in Rhea’s sleep. Cotton is used on the interior as it is great for blocking light and is a natural, health fabric for contact with the skin. The silicone would be used over the ear portions of the mask as the material naturally blocks sound and allows flexibility for comfort. My design proposes that the mask covers over her brow bone and extends to her cheeks, allowing the mask to cover the ears entirely and cover a large portion of the areas of the face that could let in light.