The 10 Best Sleep Masks

Updated January 25, 2018 by Jordan Melcher

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We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. There's nothing worse than not getting a good night's rest. Not only does it throw off your whole day, it's also bad for your health. If you've been counting an endless supply of sheep before any shut-eye happens, or struggle to fall asleep when on the night shift, consider trying one of these sleep masks. They block out light without causing discomfort, making it easier to drift off to dreamland. 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. 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 with sleep tips
  • strap is well stitched to the mask
  • doesn't block out light completely
Brand Prime Effects
Model SM007
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. 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, though it does tend to get tangled in your hair while you sleep.
  • padded all the way around
  • holds earplugs in place
  • traps a lot of heat
Brand Sleep Master
Model smblu01
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Nidra Deep Rest

The Nidra Deep Rest will have you dreaming of flying over cities or missing an important test in no time at all. If you're the type of person who can only snooze in pitch black darkness, you'll appreciate how well it blocks out those pesky rays of light.
  • molded cups curve away from eyes
  • can be worn with cpap machines
  • not ideal for side sleepers
Brand Nidra
Model pending
Weight 1.8 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 during your slumber. 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 1.4 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Dream Sleeper

The Dream Sleeper was designed especially for side sleepers, without any bulk or a tendency to slip, meaning it'll stay in place even if you're one of those folks who can't seem to keep still during the night. It lies softly on the face and won't dry out your skin.
  • company will replace it if lost
  • machine washable
  • the dye may stain pillowcases
Brand Dream Sleeper
Model No Model
Weight 2.1 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Jersey Slumber

If you're constantly traveling, or perhaps find yourself frequently saddled with the dreaded night shift at work, the Jersey Slumber will be a lifesaver. It's ergonomically designed, and the adjustable head strap ensures that you won't wake up with a case of bedhead.
  • lightweight and breathable
  • great for those with dry eyes
  • stays cool during summer months
Model jer-001
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Drift to Sleep

If your partner's snoring is so disruptive that it sounds like he or she is literally sawing logs, the Drift to Sleep is an excellent option, thanks to the included pair of earplugs. Additionally, it won't smear any makeup you may have left on overnight.
  • great for travel
  • packaging is reusable
  • material dries quickly
Model pending
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Brownmed IMAK

The Brownmed IMAK has several comforting attributes designed to alleviate common sleep issues. It features cold therapy that can relieve headaches without the use of medications, and the cross-stitching prevents pressure from building up around your eyes.
  • can also help with sinus pain
  • safe to put in the freezer
  • made of cozy cotton fabric
Brand Brownmed
Model A30131
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 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.
  • won't slip off during the night
  • comfortable in all sleep positions
  • conforms well to your face
Brand Lewis N. Clark
Model 505-Black
Weight 1.4 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Alaska Bear AB-EM-001

The Alaska Bear AB-EM-001 has a softly-contoured shape that fits any head size, 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 won't irritate the skin.
  • leaves nose unobstructed
  • doesn't absorb facial lotions
  • straps are easy to adjust
Model AB-EM-001
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 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 January 25, 2018 by Jordan Melcher

Born in California, Jordan moved all over the country before deciding that maybe he should just come back to the Golden State and stay for a bit. He’s a writer and musician who holds strong opinions about most things.

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