Best Sleep Masks

Find the best eye masks for sleep so you can sleep anywhere, anytime with ease.

By Stephanie James

Imagine a sleep mask. What do you see? An image of a young, beautiful person, swaddled in satin sheets, her hair spread across a memory foam pillow, as sunlight trickles through the window.

A sleep mask evokes images of bedtime bliss. But it’s also a functional sleep aid for those of us who need to sleep in complete darkness. If you’re trying to get some shut-eye on a daytime flight, experiencing jet lag, sleeping in a room with east-facing windows, if your partner or roommate stays up later than you, a great way to block out light is with an eye mask for sleep. This will help you fall asleep when you want, where you want, and stay asleep when the sun comes up or a light flickers on.

What To Look For In A Sleep Mask

Sleep masks are commonly made from silk, nylon, cotton, or polyester. Some include a layer of padding to increase comfort, and may even be contoured around the eyes to allow you to open your eyes and blink freely. They are secured with an elastic or velcro band that wraps around the head to keep them in place.

When choosing a sleep mask, you’ll want to look for a mask that easily molds to your face shape to completely block out darkness. You’ll also want to consider the fabric of your mask – it will rub against your skin for eight straight hours, after all! Temperature is another consideration, as a mask that traps heat will be irritating to the skin and may cause you to wake up. These are the downfalls of masks made from synthetic materials.

Weight of the mask is another consideration. While a mask with additional padding may take a night to get used to, it will help block out additional light. Masks with foam padding around the eyes are also less likely to dry out eyes and skin than close-fitting masks. When you take the time to get used to sleeping with a cover over your eyes, this should not be an issue in the long run.

Masks should be made completely of soft materials. Some masts include a plastic or metal adjustment band, which impedes comfort and sleep quality.

All in all, you will want to choose the least invasive sleep mask possible. Sleep masks are an affordable sleep aid, with prices ranging from $10 all the way up to $50.

Best Sleep Masks

When evaluating the best sleep masks, we’ve taken into account price, functionality, materials, additional benefits, and more. Here are our top choices.

The 40 Blinks Sleep Mask by Bucky is a lightweight polyester sleep mask with a poly foam insert which contours to your face to completely block out light. Bucky is known for creating products for travel comfort, and this sleep mask doesn’t disappoint. The molded foam contours eliminate pressure on your eyes, allowing you to blink freely while wearing the mask. With a velcro strap, you can adjust the mask to your perfect fit and wake up free from unsightly lines on your face. It might look a bit sporty, but the Bucky mask is available in tons of patterns and colors. However, reviewers report that the mask is not long-lasting when used daily, and may be better for occasional travel, napping, and less frequent use.


Best Value Sleep Mask

Sleep Mask by Bedtime Bliss – $17

Bedtime Bliss makes our list for the variety of add-ons that come with the mask. Not only does the adjustable strap on this mask help it to stay in place if you’re a side sleeper or a stomach sleeper, it comes with earplugs and a chic carry-case to help the contoured eye area maintain shape when you throw it in a carry-on bag.


Best Sleep Mask For Tossing and Turning

MAVOGEL Cotton Sleep Eye Mask – $9.99

The MAVOGEL Cotton Eye Mask gains points from us due to its natural cotton material and padded construction. The strap adjusts with a plastic adjustor, and the nose bridge is moldable to your nose shape and size, allowing you to fully customize the mask. It also features innovative side-wings, which block out additional light which may creep in from the sides of other masks. This mask is 100% handmade and comes with a carry case.


Best Hypoallergenic Sleep Mask

MAVOGEL 2019 New Sleep Eye Mask – $12.99

Another offering by MAVOGEL is a newly designed sleep mask with a wraparound plush band. The wraparound design prevents light from creeping in around your eyes and nose, and won’t snag on your hair like other masks with a velcro strap. This option is made from 100% cotton and modal, a silky, breathable hypoallergenic material which is gentle on the skin and won’t irritate sensitive skin or allergies. This design also eliminates pressure and sleep marks that are caused by elastic bands in other sleep masks.


Best Weighted Sleep Mask

Gravity Weighted Sleep Mask – $39

This sleep mask by Gravity weighs in at one lb, making it perfect for relieving pressure around the eyes and sinuses and distributing weight across facial pressure points. It is composed of soft fleece on the outside and lined with premium satin, while the internal weight comes from polyester and silica beads. The pressure has been shown to increase serotonin and melatonin production while decreasing cortisol – the stress hormone. It can even be chilled in the freezer for additional headache relief. However, the plastic connector of this mask may be a distraction for back-sleepers if not using a good pillow.

This weighted silk eye mask by Astura includes the benefit of aromatherapy. The scent of lavender has been shown to relieve anxiety, stress, and headaches, and has been a favorite scent for pillow mists and more. It’s also customizable, with removable pouches of flax seeds and lavender for nights when you want less weight on your face. It can be placed in the freezer for cold therapy or heated with a moist towel. This mask is extremely lux and the 100% silk means it is dry-cleaned only, so if you’re willing to put a bit more care into your therapeutic sleep mask, this one’s for you!


How Light Impacts Sleep

Our natural sleep cycle operates on a circadian rhythm, which is a 24-hour cycle of waking and sleeping. Your circadian rhythm is driven by the release of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland which readies the body for sleep when it gets dark outside, signaling to the brain to relax muscles, invoke feelings of drowsiness, and drop the body temperature. Melatonin levels rise at night, peaking around 3 AM, and fall throughout the day. Growing darkness in the evening signals to the body that it is time to release melatonin and get ready for sleep.

Evening light exposure suppresses the body’s naturally timed melatonin release, keeping you from falling asleep when you want to, and keeping you up for longer periods of time. This has become a problem in modern times especially, as artificial light from phone screens, electrical lights, televisions, and computers also inhibits the release of melatonin. This may lead to occasional issues falling asleep, or more serious sleep disorders like insomnia.

Reasons to use a sleep mask

In urban areas, it’s almost impossible to find complete darkness, as light from street lamps, cars zooming by, and other buildings constantly pollute your room. Blackout curtains may help with this, but even slivers of light from a hallway lamp finding their way under your bedroom door can disrupt your sleep cycle.

Other sources of light in your room also contribute to a disrupted sleep cycle. You may have never considered that the blue light emitted from your phone screen when you receive an alert or notification can also signal to the body that it’s time to wake up.

Sleeping with a partner who stays up later than you might also be keeping your body from falling asleep. Whether your partner is awake and reading in bed with a reading light, responding to emails on his or her iPad or iPhone, or likes to keep the TV on while he or she sleeps, all of this inhibits your body’s ability to fall asleep.

Jet-lag and travel are factors that impact your sleep cycle. When entering a new time zone, it’s essential you get your body rested and on the correct sleep schedule, so as not to feel drowsy during the day and miss out on your trip. One great way to get your body on the right sleep schedule is to get some shut-eye on the plane. A sleep mask will help you block out the seat lights from other travelers, as well as the plane’s overhead lights.

For those prone to migraines or sinus problems, sleep masks can provide pain relief by providing light pressure around the eyes and nose, allowing you to sleep in greater comfort. Heavier masks with a foam insert will provide the greatest benefit.  

Sleep masks will also be useful to those who work a night shift and need to sleep during the day.


 


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