The 10 Best Sleep Masks

Updated December 28, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Sleep Masks
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
There's nothing worse than not getting a good night's sleep. Not only does it throw off your whole day, it's also bad for your health. If you're having trouble catching your ZZZZs at night, consider trying one of these sleep masks. They block out light without causing discomfort, so you can drift off to dreamland in complete darkness - and wake up ready for whatever the day brings. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best sleep mask on Amazon.

10. Sleep Master

The Sleep Master features an extra wide design, so it won't leave indentations in your hair or marks on your face. It attaches in the back with Velcro, so it's fully customizable to your head size, but it does tend to get tangled in your hair while you sleep.
  • padded all the way around
  • design holds earplugs in place
  • traps a lot of heat
Brand Sleep Master
Model smblu01
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Prime Effects SM007

The Prime Effects SM007 has loops built into the strap that hold the included earplugs, so you can keep all of your sleep accessories in one place, making it great for travel. Unfortunately, the elastic can dig into your ears if you tighten it enough to keep it in place.
  • includes ebook on sleep tips
  • strap is well stitched to the mask
  • color bleeds onto sheets
Brand Prime Effects
Model SM007
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. Brownmed IMAK

The Brownmed IMAK has several comforting features designed to alleviate common sleep issues. It features cold therapy that relieves headaches without the use of ice, and it's filled with ergoBeads that offer a gentle massage around your eyes.
  • can help with sinus pain
  • safe to put in the freezer
  • doesn't stay cold for very long
Brand Brownmed
Model A30131
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Bedtime Bliss BTB01

The Bedtime Bliss BTB01 is built to frame and fit every face, and is made from a breathable material that won't let acne-causing moisture build up while you sleep. It's also designed so that you can comfortably blink and open your eyes while wearing it.
  • anti-pilling material
  • keeps its shape for a long time
  • washing it affects durability
Brand Bedtime Bliss
Model BTB01
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Drift To Sleep For Women

The Drift To Sleep For Women has an attractive tropical pattern and is designed to not feel tight on your eyes while still creating a peaceful, dark environment for rest. The buckle is so thin that you do not feel it when you lie on it, and can be adjusted for small heads.
  • won't smudge makeup
  • includes plastic carrying case
  • not great for side or back sleepers
Model NA
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. TravelSnugs EyeSnugs

TravelSnugs EyeSnugs comes with a pair of contoured masks, two sets of earplugs, and a handy carrying pouch, giving you everything you need for a good night's rest on the road. The cushioned mold enclosure even makes it comfortable for face sleepers.
  • perfectly shaped nose cutout
  • great for users with long eyelashes
  • slides around during sleep
Brand TravelSnugs
Model pending
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Alaska Bear

This option from Alaska Bear has a soft-contour shape that fits any size of head, from kids to adults, without leaving unsightly creases the next morning. The mulberry silk feels luxuriant on your face, and it's hypoallergenic, so it's great for anyone with sensitive skin.
  • leaves nose unobstructed
  • excellent customer service
  • easy to adjust straps
Model No Model
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Dream Sleeper

The Dream Sleeper was designed especially for side sleepers, without any extra bulk or slippage, so it'll stay in place even if you move around during the night. It lies softly on the face without drying out your skin, and the gentle material won't cause irritation.
  • company will replace it if lost
  • ideal for naps and day sleepers
  • machine washable
Brand Dream Sleeper
Model No Model
Weight 1.8 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. Lewis N. Clark Comfort

The Lewis N. Clark Comfort is made from durable, smooth nylon that blocks light without strangling your face. It has extra stuffing on the bottom, creating a little luxurious pillow under your eyes, and its clasp enclosure means you don't have to pull it over your head.
  • doesn't come off when you sleep
  • comfortable in all positions
  • conforms well to your face
Brand Lewis N. Clark
Model 505-Black
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Swanwick Sleep

Made of cool silk, the Swanwick Sleep is perfect for anyone afraid of getting too hot at night while wearing a mask. It also helps you to retain your skin's natural moisture, which can prevent wrinkles and enable you to look as well-rested as you feel.
  • band is comfortable and unobtrusive
  • doesn't put pressure on eyes
  • antimicrobial and hypoallergenic
Brand Swanwick Sleep
Model pending
Weight 7.8 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

How Sleep Masks Changed Sleep Itself

The human body has adapted over thousands of years to be in perfect balance with the natural world. The industrial era changed that. The invention of the light bulb meant a room could be filled with daylight in the middle of night. Air conditioning could trick the body's natural responses to temperature. Processed foods entered the diet, altering the way the body digests and relates to food. The industrial era comprises such a small amount of human history that it is hard to believe our bodies have already adapted to meet the needs of industrialized society.

There is one way in which the human body has not adapted itself: the human body needs sleep. As our ancestors did not have the luxury of an alarm clock, the natural cycles of the earth were sufficient to tell the time. When the sun was out, the world was active. Naturally, so were early humans. When darkness fell and the world went quiet, the body slowed down and desired sleep. These natural light cues came to affect functions of the brain, and they still do.

In the modern era, the night is often anything but dark. Lights cast from televisions, computers, phones, and tablets all emit very blue tones. To the brain, this indicates that it is day. This confusion can cause problems when trying to sleep. In fact, research has found a greater number of sleep disturbances in people who were exposed to this blue light before or during the sleep cycle.

The sleep mask provides the perfect solution. Blue lights from televisions, computers, even alarm clocks are blocked out with a proper sleep mask. This keeps the body as close to its natural circadian rhythms as possible.

The Circadian Rhythms And Sleep

The human brain actually contains a biological clock. It is known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or simply the SCN. The structure itself is actually a pair of tiny brain structures containing around 20,000 neurons. The SCN rests in the hypothalamus, right where the optic nerves cross. As such, the functions of the SCN are directly affected by the eyes.

Any light that reaches the retina of the eye creates signals that travel along the optic nerve, coming into contact with the SCN. Signals from the SCN then travel to a number of different areas in the brain. In the pineal gland, the SCN sends signals to stop the production of melatonin as light hits the retina. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for making people drowsy. The SCN also uses this light to govern multiple functions of the shift between being asleep and awake. Functions such as urine creation in the kidneys, hormone secretion in the endocrine system, and changes in blood pressure and temperature in the circulatory system are all influenced by signals from the SCN.

The sensation of jet lag is actually a disruption of the circadian rhythms of the body. The body of a traveler flying from Los Angeles to London will think it has lost eight hours of time each day. This makes the traveler feel tired in the mornings, while wide awake at night. The sensation usually fades as the SCN readjusts to its new light cues.

People who sleep with lights in the room may actually disrupt the circadian rhythms and throw the body out of balance. Many people turn to sleep masks as a way to block out unwanted light and allow the brain to get back on track.

The Importance Of REM Sleep

In the average 8-hour sleep period, around two hours is spent in the rapid eye movement stage. Despite the limited time spent in REM, reaching this stage is vital. REM sleep is the most restorative part of the body's sleep cycle. During the REM stage, the body's muscles relax significantly and the eyes move rapidly in their sockets. The brain and body get energized during the REM stage of sleep, while the mind wanders into dreams. The purpose of this dreaming is uncertain, though some have theorized that dreams serve to help the sleeper sort out memories, stress, or subconscious messages.

The role of the REM sleep stage itself is unclear. Researchers theorize that REM is involved in the process of learning, storing memories, and balancing the mood. As the REM cycle begins, different signals are sent to the cerebral cortex in the brain, the area responsible for such things as organizing information, thinking, and learning.

Signals are then sent to the spine to shut off motor functions. This seems to play a role in keeping the sleeper safe. The lack of motor function is especially useful while lucid dreaming, as a movement in the body could easily jar the dreamer awake.

If a sleeper is running through a forest in the dream world, and they run into a wall in the real world, we would consider them a sleepwalker. In reality, the signal from the brain to the spine to turn off these motor functions is disabled, causing this abnormal motor control while dreaming. REM sleep also stimulates the areas of the brain responsible for learning. This would easily explain why young children spend more time in the REM stages of sleep than adults.

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Last updated on December 28, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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