10 Best Sleep Masks | March 2017

We spent 31 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. It's essential to get a good night's sleep in order to take on the day ahead to your full potential, and to maintain optimum mental and physical health. So if you have been tossing and turning lately, perhaps you should try one of these sleep masks. They are designed to promote a more restful atmosphere and get you into beneficial REM sleep quicker. Skip to the best sleep mask on Amazon.
10 Best Sleep Masks | March 2017

Overall Rank: 4
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 2
Best Inexpensive
The Prime Effects SM007 has little loops built into the strap that hold your earplugs, so you can keep all of your sleep accessories in one place, making it great for travel. Plus it includes an eBook on sleep tips. Unfortunately, the material builds up pills.
The IMAK Compression 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.
The Sleep Master Smblu01 features a stunning aqua color and satin that feels extra luxurious on your skin. It's extra wide, so it won't leave indents in your hair or marks on your face. It feels like having a miniature comforter over your eyes.
The Cabeau Midnight Magic boasts a flexible and padded nose bridge that won't leave any marks on your face or interfere with your breathing. It also goes high up on your face, almost to your hairline, creating a natural pillow for side or stomach sleepers.
  • feels like you're not wearing a mask
  • neutral unisex look
  • gets too hot sometimes
Brand Cabeau
Model MM0302
Weight 2.1 ounces
The Bedtime Bliss BTB01 is built to frame and fit every face and is made from a breathable material that won't cause acne-causing moisture build-up while you sleep. It's also designed so that you can comfortably blink and open your eyes while it is on.
  • anti-pilling material
  • keeps its shape for a long time
  • velcro straps snag hairs
Brand Bedtime Bliss
Model BTB01
Weight 0.3 ounces
The Drift To Sleep For Women has a cute 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, plus it can be adjusted for small heads.
  • quick drying material
  • puts no pressure on the bridge of a nose
  • includes plastic carrying case
Model NA
Weight 3.2 ounces
The TravelSnugs EyeSnugs comes in a pair of contoured masks and includes two sets of ear plugs and a handy carrying pouch. The cushioned mold enclosure even makes them comfortable for face sleepers, and it is designed to facilitate REM cycles.
  • perfectly shaped nose cut-out
  • won't smudge your makeup
  • slides around during sleep
Brand TravelSnugs
Model pending
Weight 3.2 ounces
The Lewis N Clark Comfort is made from durable, but smooth, rip-stop nylon that doesn't let in light. It has extra stuffing on the bottom, creating a little luxurious pillow for under your eyes, and its clasp enclosure means you don't have to pull it over your head.
  • never comes off when you sleep
  • comfortable for all sleeping positions
  • conforms well to your face
Brand Lewis N. Clark
Model 505
Weight 6.4 ounces
The Zicac Soft Eyeshade has a very slim profile so you won't feel like you're wearing goggles, and it easily folds up for storage. Made from 100% silk, it feels cool and soothing on your eyes, and it is naturally hypoallergenic. Plus, it's under $10.
  • can help with circulation
  • extremely lightweight
  • strap doesn't scratch your ears
Brand Zicac
Model pending
Weight 0.3 ounces
The Brookstone NapForm BioSense is made with ultra plush fabric that feels like a little blanket on your face. It features memory foam padding that's infused with green tea, which can reduce dark circles and puffy eyes. Plus it has charcoal in it, which absorbs toxins.
  • elastic strap for a custom fit
  • completely blocks out light
  • cover is spot washable
Brand Brookstone
Model 616730
Weight 0.8 ounces

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 that our body's 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 8 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(REM) 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: 03/30/2017 | Authorship Information