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Have you ever laid in bed at the end of long day and — try as you might — you just can’t fall asleep? We’ve all been there, but a possible reason for your delayed ZZZs is that your room isn’t quite dark enough. Who knew? As it turns out, creating the darkest sleep environment possible is just as important as having a comfortable mattress, and sleeping with a mask might just be the solution you’re looking for.
The best sleep masks are the ones that help block light out completely and feel comfortable (not snug) over your eyes. Most people who’ve used a sleep mask know that it takes a bit of trial and error to find just the right one. So if you’ve been thinking about getting one, you’re in luck, because AT staffers are here to guide you. We’ve tested dozens of sleep masks, from weighted to silk to even heated options, and rounded up the best in each category.
Sleep masks have been scientifically proven to help us get more sound and restful sleep. Research has demonstrated that even dim lighting from street lights shining through windows and electronic devices negatively impacts sleep quality and quantity. This poor quality of sleep has even been linked to depression and anxiety. Quite simply, the darker the sleep environment, the better you sleep. And of course, the better you sleep, the better you live.
Terry Cralle, RN and spokeswoman for the Better Sleep Council, says sleep-mask first-timers should expect that the first few they try out may not end up being their favorite. “Be prepared for some trial and error, and don’t give up on them if the first one, two, or three don’t feel comfortable,” she tells AT. “I found the perfect sleeping mask on my fourth try! Overall, it’s a minimal monetary investment when you consider the many benefits of refreshing and restorative sleep.” Cralle also recommends that people who work night shifts should try their best to use sleep masks regularly, since they have to get shut-eye during daylight hours.
A pure, high-quality silk mask is often the most preferred sleep mask choice because of how luxuriously soft the fabric feels. Silk is also a lightweight and extremely breathable fabric, which is a win when it comes to anything worn on the face. Cotton, cotton blends, and mesh fabrics are also good sleep mask materials, since they’ll help you stay cool throughout the night. It’s also important to consider the material inside the mask. Weighted eye masks often contain small beads or seeds that work to provide light pressure relief. Some contain memory foam that help the mask feel weightless. It all depends on what you’re going for.
We tested a wide selection of sleep masks, judging them on the following criteria:
This delicate mask has a silk outer shell and is filled with flaxseed and lavender herbs that work in tandem to help you float away on a cloud of relaxation. It feels smooth and lush against the skin, and does an excellent job of blocking light so that you get the most restful sleep possible. It’s so effective, in fact, that it turned our sleep mask-avoidant commerce writer Sarah into a believer. “After moving into an apartment with lots of natural light that was waking me up hours before my alarm clock, I knew I needed to bite the bullet and find the right sleep mask,” she said. “The pressure this one provides is perfect and the aroma is just the thing I need to lull me to sleep.” Sarah loved the mask’s fit — the fully adjustable strap ensures it won’t slip off in the middle of the night, and the mask has a zippered opening that lets you add or remove as much of the filling as you’d like. “I never thought I’d be a mask girl,” said Sarah, “but here I am, doing my best Holly Golightly impression and loving every minute of it.”
Who It’s Best For: Those who want want a spa-like experience with their sleep mask and don’t want to spend big to get it.
Good to Know: This mask comes with an additional gel eye mask that you can freeze and apply to your face to reduce the appearance of puffy or tired eyes. Also, for an extra $10, you can get the sleep tight kit which includes a lavender and chamomile spray.
Let’s face it: Sleeping with a mask on takes a little getting used to. The Lewis N. Clark Big Wrap Eye Mask is an ideal pick for those who don’t have a ton of experience using sleep masks but want to see how they can aid in getting better sleep. This one-size-fits-all mask has a thick, padded wraparound strap that makes it easy to slide on and off, and since there’s no Velcro, it won’t get stuck in your hair. Best of all, it envelopes your eyes in total darkness so you can get the uninterrupted sleep you deserve. Our commerce director, Mark, tested this one out and had nothing but great things to say about its effectiveness. “This eye mask is a good option for first-timers,” he said. “It’s super comfy and, unlike other masks I’ve tried, doesn’t feel like a distraction or dig into your face when you slip it over your eyes. The mask’s padding cushions your eyes instead of pressing into them, and the thick, stretchy band keeps everything in place without feeling tight.” Mark gave it an extra thumbs-up for staying in place no matter his sleeping position, and he thought it would make a great travel mask too.
Who It’s Best For: Those who are new to using face masks; those who sleep in multiple positions throughout the night.
Good to Know: The strap of this headband comes with extra padding, providing extra support for back sleepers or those catching a nap in transit.
One word to describe this buttery-smooth sleep mask? Bougie! At least that’s what commerce writer Olivia said about Lunya’s luxurious sleep mask, which is made of 100 percent moisturizing silk. “This mask looks high-end and makes me want to buy a matching silk pajama set just to get the total experience,” she said. “It’s extremely soft, and I like that the silk fabric doesn’t tug on my eyes or irritate my sensitive skin.” The beauty of this well-constructed sleep mask is not just its delicate and heavenly soft material but also its wide, elasticized headband that fits securely and prevents hair creases. Olivia, a side sleeper, loved that the mask stayed on throughout the night. “It blocks out light, the filling is plush, and I slept well with it,” she said. Customers agree that they’re better rested, and one reviewer, who gave birth to her fourth child, said this sleep mask helped her fall asleep in two minutes flat. Say no more!
Honorable mention: AT also tested the lustrous sleep mask and pillowcase set from Cilque and it was a close runner-up in the luxury category. The line is available in a slew of chic colors (we tried it in amethyst), and their silk sleep mask reminded us of sleeping in a swanky five-star hotel. The mask was not only soft, but also breathable, cozy, and fit like a glove.
Who It’s Best For: Side sleepers, beauty enthusiasts, and those looking to invest in a sleep mask that will stand the test of time.
Good to Know: This mask doubles as a headband you can use during your nightly skin-care routine. Be aware that the energized blue and otium tan colorways are currently sold out, but you can join the waitlist and be the first to know about the restock. A corresponding pajama set is also available.
If there’s anything I’ve learned during the pandemic, it’s that naps are the little luxuries in life that should be taken advantage of at every opportunity. And you know what makes a nap even better? Therapedic’s weighted eye mask. “The faux-fur texture is super soft on your skin,” our projects editor, Megan, said of the mask, which has a glass bead fill. “The amount of weight is definitely noticeable but not so much that you worry about pressure on your eyes.” While the .5-pound mask is not recommended for overnight use, the brand claims the moderate heft can help alleviate the occasional headache or sinus pressure. In fact, Megan tried using it as a remedy for a recent sinus headache, and found that it actually delivered some relief. “Sometimes, I don’t even strap it to my head. I just lay there with it resting on my eyes, and it feels super good,” she said.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want a sleep mask for naps; those seeking a holistic remedy for migraines, headaches, and sinus symptoms.
Good to Know: This mask is also available at Amazon and Walmart.
Sleep is not only a ritual but also a very tailored experience. Everything from how hot or cold you sleep to your sleep position matters, and that’s why we tested masks specifically made for side and stomach sleepers. Since their face comes in direct contact with their pillow at night, these types of sleepers need masks that don’t feel like they’re sleeping face-down in a bulky pile of fabric. The Bewell eye mask was our top pick for side and belly sleepers because of its flat construction and buckle attachment. Made with plush, lightweight rip-stop nylon, this mask is soothing against the eyes and is one of the most versatile masks on this list. Commerce writer Olivia tried it and slept in pitch-black peace. “It’s low-profile, which works great for me as a side and stomach sleeper who is constantly tossing and turning,” she said. “It blocks the light out completely and stays in place in every position. There’s even a bit of extra padding at the bottom of the mask to make things completely dark.”
Who It’s Best For: Side and stomach sleepers who need a no-fuss, cozy sleeping mask that won’t interrupt their slumber.
Good to Know: There are no maintenance instructions for this mask that we’ve seen, but reviewers have said this mask held up great after being machine washed on the gentle cycle.
If you need help catching uninterrupted Zzzs during a flight or long road trip, this is the mask for you. The best way to describe the Tempur-Pedic sleep mask is that it’s a pillow for your eyes — it’s constructed with the brand’s famous Tempur material, which is used in their cloud-like mattresses and bedding (I’m a super-fan of their mattress topper). The mask rests over your eyes instead of directly on them, and the velcro strap lets you make it as tight or loose as needed. It’s virtually weightless, making it easy to pack, and the soft material makes it great for people with sensitive skin, The only drawback to this mask is that outside of travel, it may not be best for anyone but back sleepers, since it has such a bulky surface. The mask also isn’t machine washable, so spot cleaning works best here.
Who It’s Best For: Those looking for a weightless and easily transportable mask.
Good to Know: Customer reviews praise this mask’s excellent light-blocking abilities, so light sleepers might also enjoy it.
The Loop from Ostrichpillow might look a bit strange at first glance (I mean, have you seen their travel pillow?), but when our news and culture director, Tara, tested it, she was transported into a blissful other dimension. “The soft tubed fabric is filled with micro beads that provide a gentle pressure when it’s secured behind the neck,” she said in AT review. “Because it’s crisscrossed over your eyes, there are no gaps for light to get in, and you can still breathe freely through your nose. I’ve really enjoyed using it while I’m meditating in the afternoon; it delivers pitch blackness for the 20 minutes I need it.” Whether you’re looking to unplug for a power nap, focus on a yoga or mindfulness session, or simply have a moment to yourself, the Loop is a good go-to. You’d be surprised at how dipping into complete darkness can help you zone out from that massive to-do list.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want a mediation mask. If you’re a back sleeper, this might be the sleep mask you’re looking for.
Good to Know: Ostrichpillow has a generous 100-day return policy, so you’ll have plenty of time to test the crisscrossed waters before deciding if you like this mask.
Aside from just wanting to get the most restful slumber possible, some of us turn to sleep masks to tackle things like puffy eyes, dark circles, and even sunburns. That’s where this hot and cold mask by Grace & Stella comes in. Put it in the freezer for up to 15 minutes for relief from swollen, puffy eyes, or throw it in the microwave for up to 15 seconds for warming headache, sinus, or muscle relief. Warmed or cooled, this mask is a self-care gem. It also has a plush surface on the interior, ensuring your eyes are shielded from any harsh temperatures. Commerce editor Sholeen has owned this mask for years, and recommends it to anyone and everyone she knows. “I pop it in the freezer and right before I go to bed, I wrap it around my eyes. I instantly feel soothed, comforted, and so calm,” she says. “The cooling beads do a great job of staying ice cold for at least half an hour, and I love the gentle pressure of the beads on my eyelids.”
Who It’s Best For: Those seeking some relief or a more sensory experience with their face mask.
Good to Know: This mask is only available in pink for now.
There truly are no words to describe how beautiful and dreamy Slip’s popular sleep masks are. The minute I took this mask out of the package, I noticed it was light as a feather and oh so soft! Yes, this is one of the pricier masks on the list, but it’s definitely worth the money. Made of 100 percent mulberry silk, this mask comes in 28 different colors and prints. Did you hear that? TWENTY. EIGHT. I’m talking dreamy shades like rose gold, leopard, and even a cheeky watermelon print. But this mask doesn’t just look the part, it also delivers in all the categories we were looking for. My longstanding struggle with sleep masks is that they never seem to stay on throughout the night since I tend to toss and turn in my sleep. The Slip mask not only stayed put but also felt weightless on my face. It also didn’t seem to absorb or become damaged by my excessive layers of night creams and serums. Talk about $50 well spent!
Who It’s Good For: Those who are looking to add a dash of style in their sleep routine.
Good to Know: The brand created Slipsilk, a proprietary silk material developed over the span of ten years and developed to Slip’s shine, thickness, softness, and durability standards. Slip also sells pillowcases, scrunchies, and face coverings made of this same coveted material. You can find their products at Nordstrom.