You can’t compare the price of the best sleep masks to that of a poor nights sleep. When you sleep well at night, everything else seems to fall in place just a little more easily. You feel rested and ready to attack the day rather than groggy, unfocused, and sluggish. If you struggle to sleep at night, it might be time to adjust your bedtime routine.
Sure, there are blackout curtains, white noise machines, and melatonin supplements all designed to be helpful when trying to fall asleep, but sometimes the simplest solution is the best. Have you ever considered trying a sleep mask?
Eye masks for sleeping block out artificial light that can keep you from falling asleep or wake you up during the night. We’ve done the research to determine what sleep masks work best and we’ve compiled them in a shortlist below. Check them out!
What Is an Eye Mask?
An eye mask, also known as a sleep mask, is simply a fabric mask you wear over your eyes at night. They can be made from a variety of different materials and take various shapes, but they all perform the same basic function: to block out artificial light.
Some eye masks fit loosely over your eyes, secured by an elastic or adjustable strap, while others are designed to fit more securely. Some are ergonomically shaped to fully block out light a full 360-degrees around each eye and some wrap all the way around your head. Which eye mask you choose is largely a matter of preference, but we’ve found that some models work better than others.
Benefits of Eye Masks
The average person spends roughly one-third of their life sleeping, so it’s worth making necessary changes to your routine to ensure that sleep is worthwhile. Most people do best with 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, though children may need more and older adults may need less. If you don’t get the quality sleep your body needs, you’ll feel tired the next day, but it may not affect your health.
After several nights of poor sleep, however, you’ll start to notice mental and eventually physical effects of sleep deprivation. A couple of sleepless nights may leave you feeling foggy, unable to focus or make decisions. You could slip into a negative mood and your risk for injury or accidents rises. Chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to physical health issues like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
While wearing an eye mask isn’t a guarantee against these conditions, it can help you get the sleep you need to avoid sleep deprivation and its harmful effects.
Here are some of the potential benefits of sleep masks:
- They are a convenient and affordable alternative to blackout curtains which research shows can significantly improve sleep quality.
- They help improve sleep quality by blocking out artificial light that can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle modulated by melatonin production.
- They are much safer than pharmaceutical sleep aids (both prescription and non-prescription) and alcohol.
- They create a protective barrier over the eyes which can help people with dry eyes – they may also benefit people with nocturnal lagophthalmos (the inability to fully close your eyes during sleep).
- They can protect against friction and impressions for side and stomach sleepers – especially silk sleep masks.
Sleep masks can also help people who have trouble falling asleep at home. “If you find that you’re sleeping enough but you’re tired the next day, a sleep mask is a good way of experimenting,” said Dr. Nitun Verma, a sleep doctor and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Sleep masks are easy to come by and generally very affordable. You’ll pay more for quality materials like silk and for additional features, but you should be able to find one comfortably within your budget. Read on to learn what factors to consider when shopping for eye masks.
Things to Consider When Buying an Eye Mask
A sleep mask is simply a fabric mask that fits over your eyes and secures with a strap or tie behind your head. Simple as they are in concept, there are a great many different types of sleep masks out there. Before you purchase one, take the time to research the options and decide which type might be most comfortable for you.
Here are some things to consider when shopping for eye masks:
- Shape – Sleep masks come in many different shapes to accommodate different bodies. Find an eye mask that fits the shape of your face, resting comfortably on your skin while you sleep. Many sleep masks are simple in design, but some are contoured for added comfort.
- Size – Find a sleep mask large enough to cover both eyes with enough extra fabric on the sides to block out light. Adjustable straps are ideal because they enable you to create a custom fit.
- Materials – Soft, natural materials are best for eye masks because they won’t irritate your skin with frequent use. Cotton is a soft material that feels comfortable and is relatively inexpensive, though silk is one of the gentlest and highest quality materials you can find in a sleep mask. You may want to avoid synthetic materials.
- Weight – The materials from which the eye mask is made will determine its weight which has an impact on comfort and efficacy. Some people find a heavier eye mask soothing and these may help block out light better than a lightweight mask.
- Add-ons – Some sleep masks offer additional features like warming or cooling properties. Warmth can be soothing to help you get to sleep while cooling masks can help with headaches and migraines. Some sleep masks even come with earmuffs to help block out sound.
Eye masks for sleep are a dime a dozen, so you’ll find plenty of variety when you start shopping around. If you’re shopping online, don’t be afraid to purchase several different options so you can try them on and choose the one that fits best. Check out our recommendations above and consider giving one a try!
Eye Mask Reviews
Getting a good night’s rest is essential for daytime wakefulness and optimal bodily function. Wearing a sleep mask at night can help you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly. We’ve done the market research to bring you a shortlist of the best eye masks for sleeping on the market.
Here are our top 5 picks for the best eye masks for sleeping:
A quality sleep mask fits comfortably over your eyes, blocking out artificial light without putting too much pressure on your head. The Snuggle-Pedic Cooling Sleep Mask is engineered for comfort, made with 3/8-inch thick memory foam and a wrap-around design. This eye mask is completely adjustable and includes a cutout for your nose to ensure a snug and secure fit.
The Snuggle-Pedic Cooling Sleep Mask supports quality sleep by absorbing light, keeping it from reaching your eyes. It also features Kool-Flow fabric and temperature-regulating gel which keeps you cool throughout the night, unlike many sleep masks. It comes in a one-size-fits-all design with hook-and-loop closure so you can easily adjust it for the perfect fit.
Certain materials can irritate the skin or increase your risk for wrinkles, but not the Mulberry Silk Eyemask. Made from 100% mulberry silk, this eye mask has a smooth finish that resists friction, keeping your skin and hair safe from overnight damage. Plus, it is naturally cool to the touch and feels luxuriously soft and smooth on your face. As an added bonus, it is machine-washable for easy cleaning.
The Mulberry Silk Eyemask from Brooklinen comes in several different colors to match your bedding. It features an elastic band that adjusts to the size of your head, fitting snug enough to block out light. Some users comment that the mask runs a little small, so we recommend checking the specifications around your own measurements to ensure a comfortable fit.
Another option in silk sleep masks is the SLIP Silk Sleep Mask. Made with specially commissioned Slipsilk, this eye mask is soft, smooth, and luxurious. When tested in a laboratory setting, it was found to absorb less face cream than cotton which may help prevent waste with nighttime skincare products. Plus, the silk materials resist friction, so you wake up without creases in your skin.
The SLIP Silk Sleep Mask comes in over a dozen colors and patterns so you can choose one that matches your bedding or pick one for every pair of pajamas. This eye mask has an elastic band that adjusts to the size of your head for a snug but comfortable fit that blocks out light. To maximize the longevity of your SLIP silk mask, we recommend hand washing it with a pH neutral liquid detergent then line dry.
If you find yourself struggling to sleep with even the slightest amount of artificial light, this contoured sleep mask from MZOO could be the perfect solution. Engineered with contoured cups over each eye, this sleep mask fits snugly against your face to completely block out light. Because it is filled with memory foam, however, it won’t feel too tight or restrictive.
The MZOO Contoured Sleep Mask comes in three colors and they are made with unique heat-bonded technology instead of glue, making them ultra-durable. Unlike silk masks that press on your eyes, the contoured cup design gives your eyes space to breathe without compromising the mask’s light-blocking ability. Plus, with a fully adjustable strap, this sleep mask truly is one-size-fits-all.
A good sleep mask fits comfortably and blocks out light so that your mind can rest and your circadian rhythm can take over. This Lunya Sleep Mask may not look like much, but it gets the job done with consistency and comfort. This sleep mask is made from natural moisturizing silk that feels light and cool on your skin. The plush design conforms to the shape of your face, maximizing comfort and blocking out light.
Simple as it may be, this Lunya Sleep Mask does what it’s designed to do. It features a cutout for your nose to ensure a snug fit around each eye and the elastic band adjusts to the size and shape of your head. It ships free and comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
Do Eye Masks Help You Sleep?
It may sound strange that a simple piece of fabric could be a game-changer for your bedtime routine, but it’s true. Something as simple as wearing an eye mask at night could greatly improve your quality of sleep. It could even help you fall asleep more quickly, so you get more sleep at night. But how exactly do eye masks work? How do they help you sleep?
The primary benefit of wearing an eye mask to sleep is that it blocks out artificial light. According to Dr. Wendy Troxel, senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, light at night “can disrupt our internal biological clock that helps regulate our sleep-wake patterns.”
Natural light plays a key role in regulating the body’s sleep-wake cycle and affects your body’s production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Your body natural starts ramping up production of this hormone in the evening which is what makes you sleepy. Melatonin production drops off in the early hours of the morning, causing you to wake. Exposure to artificial light at night (including blue light from screens and mobile devices) suppresses melatonin production which can interfere with your natural sleep cycle. That’s where eye masks come in.
Wearing an eye mask can help block out artificial light, enabling you to take full advantage of your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle instead of being kept awake or woken up earlier than you should.
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”. 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.
When Should You Use an Eye Mask?
Quite simply, anyone can benefit from wearing a sleep mask. According to Dr. Samuel Gurevich, MD, however, they can be particularly beneficial for people who suffer from insomnia, for those who work at night and sleep during the day, and for those who don’t have or can’t afford blackout curtains.
Here are a few simple tips for using an eye mask properly for sleep:
- Put your eye mask on before you get into bed so you can adjust it before you turn out the lights – you can slide it up onto your forehead while you finish your bedtime preparations.
- Make sure the eye mask fits snugly against your face, adjusting the straps so the mask is tight enough to block out light without being uncomfortable.
- Spend 15 to 30 minutes performing a relaxing activity in bed to get your body ready for sleep – try reading or listening to music but avoid television and other electronics.
- When you feel sleepy, pull down your eye mask and make sure it is still properly adjusted before turning out the lights.
- If you’re still having trouble falling asleep, try visualizing a pleasant or relaxing scene – you can also try breathing slowly and deeply, counting your breaths.
Sleeping with an eye mask may take some getting used to and you may need to try out a few different types before you find one that’s comfortable.
The bottom line is that sleeping masks, regardless of extra frills and features, are successful if they block out light. Research from 2018 shows that artificial light at night has negative effects on sleep patterns. It disrupts the sleep-wake cycle, which can make it harder to fall and stay asleep.
Additionally, a 2017 study tested the use of eye masks and earplugs on patients in an ICU who struggle to get quality sleep because of the various lights and sounds in their environment. A 2019 study conducted a similar test. Both studies found that the use of eye masks and earplugs improved sleep quality for those patients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it good to sleep with a silk eye mask?
Yes. Research suggests sleeping with an eye mask made of pure silk can support a deeper quality sleep with fewer interruptions. Silk eye masks may even boost melatonin levels, helping you fall asleep faster.
How often should I clean my eye mask?
At a minimum, you should wash your eye mask once a week. If you experience breakouts or other skin issues, try washing it several times a week or even once a day. Washing the mask in the morning after you wake up gives it plenty of time to dry before you use it again at night.
Can sleep masks cause wrinkles?
Sometimes, depending on the fabric. Eye masks made from cotton and synthetic material can create friction on the skin which may result in the formation of creases or wrinkles. The best way to prevent wrinkles from sleep masks is to use a silk sleep mask.