So you’re looking for the best sleep mask. No problem.
Are you someone who needs extra help falling asleep at night? Many people rely on a cup of calming chamomile tea, a dose of melatonin, sleeping pills, or even NyQuil to fall asleep.
What if I told you there’s a better way? A safer, completely natural, inexpensive solution that comes with absolutely no side effects?
There is: a sleep mask.
Read on to learn about why everyone should be wearing an eye mask for sleep at night, and what some of the best sleeping masks are.
The Effect of Light Pollution on Sleep & Health
Artificial light is everywhere. It’s the glowing neon sign at the restaurant across the street, the LED light of the numbers on your bedside alarm clock, your TV screen, or your phone coming to life when you receive an email. This type of light in a sleep environment has been scientifically proven to disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm, the natural process regulating our 24-hour sleep/wake cycle.
When our circadian rhythm is thrown off by this light pollution, a chain reaction happens internally, affecting cell regeneration, hormone production, and even brain wave patterns, frequently leading to insomnia.
This is likely because artificial light suppresses the body’s secretion of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. In addition, dark sleep environments have been linked to increased REM sleep and decreased wakeful periods, meaning you are more likely to sleep deeply and through the entire night when you don’t have the interference of light pollution.
Having your circadian rhythm disrupted repeatedly has also been linked to more serious medical conditions including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression and other mood disorders, and breast cancer.
While it may be hard to believe all of this can be caused by everyday light pollution, it’s true.
The Proven Benefits of Sleep Masks
The good news is that an easy fix lies in wearing a sleep mask.
The National Sleep Foundation cites a study conducted by Chinese researchers on the link between sleeping with an eye mask and sleep quality. The study tested ICU patients, subjecting them to a range of different sleep conditions.
Participants who were allowed to wear sleeping masks experienced longer periods of REM sleep and showed significantly higher levels of melatonin and cortisol — both of which regulate sleep — than those who did not.
How to Choose the Right Sleep Mask
As you’ll see in the next section, there are many, many fantastic choices when looking for the best sleeping mask. There are eye masks that block out light, hypoallergenic eye masks, masks for different face shapes, sleeping masks for side sleepers, and even eye masks that work well with Cpap machines. You get the idea — the possibilities are essentially endless.
With so many options, it may be wise to purchase two or three with generous return policies and try each of them for a few nights. You may find that you dislike the way a certain style sits on your face and a concave molded mask may be the way to go, or that you prefer an eye mask with natural fibers rather than synthetic fibers.
When you begin shopping around for sleep masks for you, here’s a checklist of things to look for:
Budget sleep masks vs. expensive sleep masks
What’s the difference? Like many other things in life, you get what you pay for with sleeping masks — sometimes.
More expensive eye masks often have frills such as being 3D contoured or having Bluetooth capabilities to sync with speakers, but plenty of less expensive options are comfortable, adjustable, and excellent quality.
Materials and quality: Will it last and is it comfortable?
Comfort is highly subjective, which is why we recommend purchasing and trying out a few. Features like foam padding or an adjustable strap can make almost any eye mask more comfortable, but the quality of construction and its materials are worth paying more attention to.
A super-soft silk or cotton mask may feel nice, but thinner sleep masks made of nylon may hold up better. Look carefully at the stitch quality to determine a mask’s durability, and wear it for a few nights to decide if it’s comfortable enough to wear regularly.
Can you use it for travel as well as at home?
As we’ve discussed, there are many different types of sleep masks. Some masks will come with a travel pouch and be designed specifically for use on airplanes, while others made of gel may be cooling sleep masks may be better suited for alleviating headaches at home.
Is it easy to clean?
For all of the benefits, wearing a sleep mask regularly does have one downside: It sits on the sensitive skin of your face for hours at a time, almost every day.
It’s essential to keep eye masks clean for this reason, so the ease of cleaning yours is something to consider seriously. You don’t want the dirt or germs of an unwashed mask resting against your face, do you? Cotton or polyester masks are easy to toss in the washer, but a silk or gel mask will require hand washing.
What’s the fit like?
Is it customizable? Most sleeping masks will have a stretchy strap or band to provide a comfortable fit, but some will have an adjustable strap so you can customize it to your head.
Some fit very close to the eyes and some even have eye cups, while others are specifically designed to rest away from the eyes and not cause eye pressure. There is truly a sleep mask to suit every fit preference.
Is it breathable?
Again, your sleep mask will be resting directly on the sensitive skin around your eyes for long periods of time, so it’s critical that it be breathable.
With so many materials including lightweight cotton, washable polyester, and others, you are sure to find a mask that feels breathable and refreshing.
What do you need a sleep mask for?
Consider what you will use it for. Do you travel often? Do you have a job that requires you to perform shift work at odd hours, where you are frequently sleeping when it’s daylight hours?
Are you someone who enjoys taking a nap regularly? Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? Depending on your answers, you may want to look for a mask that battles against jet lag, is foldable and washable, or creates artificial darkness.
How effective is it at blocking light?
This may seem like a funny thing to consider — after all, isn’t the entire purpose of a sleep mask to block light? Well, mostly yes, but people have different needs and preferences.
Some masks will offer total darkness, while others will allow a bit of natural light to filter in. Determine what level of light blocking you’re looking for before shopping.
What’s most important?
Now that you have this list of things to consider, it’s time to determine what the most important qualities are to you when looking for an eye mask.
- Are you looking for a cooling sleep mask for hot sleepers?
- A mask made of foam materials, or something with more compression?
Whatever it is, once you’ve decided, read on to see our editor’s picks for the top sleeping masks.
Best selling Sleep Masks
Ready to get decent night sleep that your mind and body deserves? Any of the following masks will help you to get better sleep, but we have one clear winner.
Editor’s Pick for best sleep mask overall: MZOO 3D Contoured Sleep Eye Mask
With a score of 4.8 and over 3,200 reviews, this sleep mask is the clear winner. It’s made of memory foam and features molded, contoured cups that don’t put any pressure on the eyes and allow for free eye movement. It offers full light-blocking, has a fully adjustable strap, and includes a travel pouch.
Ideal for: Anyone wanting to feel as though they are in a dream they don’t want to wake from!
Best for light-blocking: Dream Sleeper Sleep Master
This large, blindfold-like sleep mask is made of satin and not only blocks out light, but muffles sound as well with its design that covers both your eyes and ears. It is hypoallergenic, washable, and fully adjustable with a wide velcro enclosure.
Ideal for: Frequent travelers and shift workers who may wish to muffle daytime noises.
The uniquely-contoured, hollowed-out eye cups and foldability make this the top sleep mask for travel. You won’t feel any pressure on your eyes, but beware that the flexible eye cups can get crushed, so this mask is best for back sleepers.
Ideal for: Side and back sleepers, people who don’t want to feel pressure right against their eyes, and frequent travelers.
Great for dry eyes: Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep Mask
This was nearly the pick for the top silk and top cooling mask as well, because it’s that good! The Alaska Bear is a blindfold-style mask made of ultra-lightweight mulberry silk. The breathable natural fibers keep dry air out, making it a top pick for those who suffer from dry eyes or migraine headaches. It’s also compatible with earplugs or a CPAP machine.
Ideal for: Dry eye sufferers, side and stomach sleepers.
Best silk mask: Jersey Slumber 100% Silk Sleep Mask
A no-frills mask that’s excellent at what it does: Blocks out light to provide uninterrupted, restful sleep. The lightweight, super soft sleep mask promises minimal rubbing, so it won’t interfere with natural eye fluttering.
Ideal for: Anyone.
Perfect for pain relief: IMAK Compression Pain Relief Mask
Designed by an orthopaedic surgeon, this innovative sleep mask provides relief from eye strain, migraines, and tension headaches. It uses ergoBeads to gently massage around the eye area and can be frozen for a soothing cooling effect.
Ideal for: Migraine, headache, and sinus sufferers, people who use a computer frequently or otherwise suffer from eye strain.
Scented soothing mask: ASUTRA weighted Silk Eye Pillow
This 100% silk lightweight mask is filled with soothing lavender and flax seeds, which has healing aromatherapy benefits and can alleviate migraine and headache pain. Venus Williams is said to use this mask nightly.
Ideal for: Anyone, particularly headache sufferers.
Best for side sleepers: Drift to Sleep Eye Mask
This contoured, flexible sleep mask provides total blackout and conforms to the face, removing the possibility of any gaps where light can filter in and enabling you to sleep in any position. The eyecups sit up from the eyes, so they do not interfere with eye fluttering, and the fit is fully adjustable. It is also compatible with CPAP machines.
Ideal for: Side and stomach sleepers, CPAP users.
Amazing for beauty sleep: Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask
This full-coverage eye mask is not only great at completely blocking out light, but it is also made of breathable and washable cotton, ideal for promoting healthy skin. It includes a portable travel pouch and is fully adjustable but also stays in place all night.
Ideal for: Side sleepers, travelers with experience (think many hours spent on a plane) and people with sensitive skin.
Frequently Asked Questions
What fabric or material is best?
It depends on you, cotton is the safest option as most people think it feels the best. But you might prefer silk or even memory foam.
Are there any sleep masks without an adjustable velcro strap?
Yes, some masks use clips or hooks, however, a velcro strap is the most secure option that we’ve found.
What are the best sleep masks for insomniacs?
There isn’t a specific choice, but one that stands head and shoulders against the competition for any type of person struggling with sleep is the MZOO.
Conclusion: Which will you choose?
When shopping for the best sleep mask, remember to try a few before committing to one – or two! You may find that you prefer one for travel and a different style perfect for sleeping at home.
The important thing is you’ll be wearing one regularly, getting all the benefits of it. You’ll enjoy improved sleep quality, faster regeneration of skin cells (hello younger-looking skin, goodbye fine lines!), and lower risk for depression, obesity, and diabetes.
Wearing a mask is one of the best, most natural things you can do to improve not only your sleep quality but your overall quality of life as well.
Which do you think is the best sleep mask?