Some people call them sleep masks. Other people call them eye masks. Me personally? I am a proud member of ‘team sleep mask’. But whatever you call them, they are a fantastic way to block out light while you sleep.
I am here to help you find the perfect sleep mask for you, so that no matter where you are, you can sleep in absolute darkness.
What’s in the guide:
Skip the waffle… Click a link to jump to your preferred section.
- The benefits of a sleep mask
- Do you need a sleep mask?
- The best and worst sleep masks
- Extra sleep mask info
Otherwise keep reading from top to bottom, It’s all good stuff!
The Benefits of a sleep mask
I am one of those people that wakes up the instant that light falls across my face. It is for this very reason that I cannot sleep while traveling, even on those monster international flights, I remain as wide-eyed as a tarsier (those weird looking squirrel-monkey things that always look surprised. Google it. It’s weird!)
For years, I struggled with this problem. That is until I came across sleep masks. Previously I thought that sleep masks were something that posh wives wore so they wouldn’t have to look at their rich but misshapen husband laying beside them in bed.
Turns out that sleep masks have a very practical purpose. They allow you want to sleep in absolute darkness, even if your sleeping environment is lit up like center stage.
Whether it’s the early morning sun creeping through the blinds, headlights from a passing car or that awful neighbor, Karl, who for some darn reason has to leave his porch light that shines as bright as a thousand suns on all night – A sleeping mask is just what you need to block out all the light.
It seems the more I talk to people about sleep masks, the more practical uses I become aware of. My long-time friend, Zoe is somewhat of a jet-setter, and uses a sleep mask to snooze at the airport while waiting for her boarding call. where she doesn’t have the luxury of sleeping under the bed covers to block out the light.
And if you are trying to sleep during the day then a sleep mask is essential. My cousin, Josh, is a shift-worker, starting work at 9 pm and returning home closer to 7 am. As you can imagine, that really messes with his sleeping pattern. He uses as sleeping mask to trick his body into thinking it’s night-time, allowing him to fall asleep quickly in the morning light.
Consider a sleep mask your own personal, portable night-time.
Do you need a sleep mask?
Here’s the thing. You might not even realize you need a sleep mask.
As yourself these two questions:
1. Do you have trouble falling asleep or wake up in the middle of a night?
2. Is there any light in your sleeping environment?
If you answered yes to both questions then you should try using a sleep mask. It may very well be that your body is reacting to the light, even with your eyes closed.
Now before you disregard that last sentence as nonsense, close your eyes and face the nearest light in your home. Move your head from away from the light source and then back towards it. You can actually make out the light from behind your closed eyelids. And if you sleep with your eyes open, it’s even worse!
Your body is too clever for it’s own good and the light coming through your eyelids will keep you awake and alert.1
So slide a sleep mask over your head and enjoy all the benefits that total darkness has to offer, no matter how bright it is outside.
But before you run out and but any old sleep mask, you need to consider this:
Not all sleep masks are created equally!
A sleep mask is little more that a piece of fabric and a strap. Pretty simple, right?The obvious answer is yes. This is why I am puzzled that there are so many terrible sleep masks out there.
A sleep mask needs to do three things well:
- Block out light
- Be comfortable
- Stay on your face while you sleep
But many sleep masks actually fail to check all three boxes.
The best sleep mask
The right sleep mask for you will entirely depend on when and how you want to use it. Someone who wishes to sleep seated on a plane will want a different sleep mask to someone who wants a sleep mask for bed.
Fortunately for you, as a sleep mask fanatic, I have done the hard work for you. I have personally slept in over 50 different sleep masks, some are luxurious and comfortable while others downright suck.
For the purpose of this review I avoided novelty face masks. From past experience, novelty sleep masks are designed to entertain the people looking at you rather than being a functional solution for blocking out light while you sleep.
Earth Therapeutics Dream Zone Sleep Mask
A comfortable sleep mask that is both affordable and practical.
Earth Therapeutics Dream Zone sleep mask is a cotton/silk blend. While this does not make material as satiny soft as a 100% silk sleep mask, the material does feel more durable and is hypoallergenic.
The polyester filling was capable of blocking out even direct torch light. The overall shape of the mask conformed neatly to my face and the Velcro coated elastic strap held the sleep mask in position throughout the night, even when sleeping on my side.
Just be mindful that the sleep mask does sit right up against the eyelids. Some people find this sensation uncomfortable enough to keep them awake at night.
While it would have been nice to see the inclusion of a storage bag, the dream-zone can easily be hung from your bed post or hidden in your sock drawer.
A quick warning to those with allergies and sensitive skin, this sleep mask is scented. While it isn’t stated anywhere, the Sleep Zone sleep mask has a mild valerian and lavender scent. While these may be proven sleep aids, I found the lack of reference on the packaging or even manufacturers website quite irresponsible.
I was able to remove the scent by hand washing in lukewarm water, as per the washing instructions.
Lewis N Clark Comfort Eye Mask
I gotta hand it to Lewis N Clark, they do make one comfortable eye mask.
Where the Comfort eye mask really stands out is it’s strap. Rather than using Velcro, which some find gets tangled in their hair, the Lewis N Clark mask uses an adjustable plastic buckle that clips together like a seat belt. Now I must warn you that this plastic buckle is noticeable if you lean back against a hard surface, like when you are sleeping on an airplane. But if you are resting on a pillow it is practically invisible.
A nose baffle runs along the base of the sleep mask and with a little adjustment will leave your eyes in pitch black darkness. This nose flap allows the sleep mask to conform to big and small noses alike, without letting in any light.
The materials, while synthetic, are incredibly soft. The mask does sit against your eyes which means you will be unable to open them without removing the mask.
This is as thick as I would recommend for side sleepers. You may need to readjust the sleep mask when you lay your head down on your pillow but the strap is more than capable of holding the sleep mask in position while you sleep.
Overall, highly recommended. A quality sleep mask at a budget price.
Bucky 40 Blinks Sleep Mask
Modern contoured masks allow you to wear a sleep mask without it pressing against your eyes. Looking like sleep goggles, contoured sleep masks allow you to open your eyes while while remaining in total darkness. Many people use contoured sleep masks for meditation or sensory deprivation.
The Bucky contoured sleep mask is available in a wide range of colors and patterns and is perhaps the cutest sleep mask I tested.
For the most part it was able to block out traces of light. A major shortcoming of all contour sleep masks is that they will not fit every kind of face. If you have a large schnozzle or a unusual shaped head then you will be better off going with a standard sleep mask.
The contoured shape kept the mask off my eyelids and their was virtually no pressure against my skin with the strap properly adjusted. I could open my eyes wide and embrace the darkness, making this sleeping mask suitable for those that
This mask is better suited for up right sleeping during travel or for back sleeping. Attempting to sleep with it on your side will see the sleep mask ride up, exposing your eyes to light.
Unfortunately after just a few days of use, the mask already showed signs of wear. Two frayed strands of polyester visible on edges of the sleep mask. However, this did not affect the performance of the mask.
if you want a contoured sleep mask then the bucky is currently the best I have tested.
Alaska Bear Silk Sleep Mask
Considering this was the most popular sleep mask on Amazon, I had high hopes. A silk eye mask at a budget price, what’s not to love?
Well, it turns out that it’s light blocking capabilities fall short.
The eye mask does not properly conform to the nose allowing light to sneak in at the bottom. This problem was amplified by back sleeping, light was free to stream in and assault my closed eyes.
This problem was worse for my husband, who has a much bigger nose bridge than me.
The only plus side was that the silk material felt smooth and irritation free against my skin. While the eye mask did sit up against my eyelids, it was not tight and constricting. Comfortable but not functional.
Sleep Master Sleep Mask
If you combined a sleep mask with ear muffs the end result would be this unique sleep mask from Sleep Master.
Resembling a blindfold rather than a sleep mask, the Sleep Master is a large piece of padded fabric that wraps around your head. The sleep mask is secured at the back by a piece of Velcro.
If you want a wrap-around sleep mask then this is perhaps the only option on the market without jumping up to the ostrich pillow, which is better suited to travel and sleeping upright than used in the bedroom.
The Sleep Master sleep mask was capable of blocking out all light and even conformed to my face, no light crept in at the sides either. The eye cover itself sits against the eyes, meaning you will be unable to open them without dragging your eyelashes against material.
I had two concerns with this sleep mask. The first is that it sleeps warm. While this wasn’t a problem for me, my husband is like a furnace. He found that the sleep mask got uncomfortably warm, and it wasn’t even summer yet.
The next problem was the material. Yes, it is satin-soft against the skin, but the entire sleep mask is made from it. This means that there is no where for sleep mask to get a good grip against the head. If you toss and turn at night then you will likely find that this sleep mask slides around with each movement pushing it out of position.
Sleep Master claims that the padded section of the strap that sits over your ears can reduce sound, similar to ear muffs. It does, but the noise reduction is so minor that it is almost unnoticeable, especially when you are laying in bed and becoming increasingly frustrated at whatever noise is keeping you awake. If you want to block out sound while you sleep, use a good pair of ear plugs instead.
If you do wear ear plugs to bed, the wrap around design will stop the back of the earplugs from catching on your pillow, a problem experienced by some side and stomach sleepers. Try it yourself, included in the packaging is a pair of Howard Leight IMAX earplugs, which were highly regarded in our review of earplugs for sleep.
Dream Essentials Dreamer Sleep Mask
Running along the underside of the sleep mask is a nose baffle. Just how well the sleep mask blocks out light will entirely depend on how you position this padded flap of fabric. It may take up to 30 seconds, but once in the right place your eyes will experience pitch black. The only problem here is that you need to adjust this baffle each and every time you wear the sleep mask.
The nose baffle pushes the eye covers off of your eyes, meaning that the fabric won’t touch your eyelids while you sleep. That said, opening your eyes will result in your lashes dragging along the fabric on the inside of the mask.
Slight pressure comes from the nose baffle when sleeping on your side. Just how uncomfortable you find this will entirely depend on your sensitivity. Some side sleepers may also find the thickness of the mask off-putting.
The adjustable fastener is thin but is made up of an annoying three piece design, which made setting the original size much more fiddly than it needed to be. Fortunately, once you have the size adjusted to suit your noggin there will be little need to go back and adjust it. The range of adjustment is quite narrow and if you have a larger sized head you may find that the limited range of movement results in the sleep mask pressing tightly into your head, like an elastic band.
I do have some concerns towards the quality of the thin elastic on the fastener. The elastic appears to be much lighter duty compared to other sleep masks I tested. Reading other online reviews I noted that other people found problems with the elastic wearing out.
Dream Essentials Opulence Sleep Mask
The Dream Essentials Opulence sleep mask is very similar to the Dreamer model just above.
The main difference between the two is the Opulence has a superior adjustable strap, expanding to fit even the largest of heads.
The other difference is the inclusion of a pocket on the front of the sleep mask. You can use this to store your ear plugs or other small accessories. I felt the feature was pretty useless, the pocket opening is narrow enough that large fingers have difficult sliding inside.
The Opulence sleep mask has the same problems for side sleepers as the Dreamer, the nose baffle causes pressure to be applied along the face and the mask is a little on the thick side.
In my opinion, this was the best sleep mask put forward by Dream Essentials. All of their other masks have obvious shortfalls.
Dream Essentials Solitude Pocket Sleep Mask
Taking the pocket concept a step further, The solitude sleep mask includes a lavender sachet, a large teabag filled with French lavender, that slides in to the pocket. The theory here is that the relaxing lavender scent will help you fall asleep quicker.
That’s all well and good but everything else about this sleep mask is a huge step backwards. This sleep mask is awful.
Let’s start with the strap. The “elastic” doesn’t bounce back, and the narrow band allows the sleep mask to move all over the place while you sleep. The range of adjustment is also very limited.
To make it worse, the ends of the elastic strap, that have been heated to prevent fraying, are sharp and pointy. These sit in line with your temples and can scratch your skin when you re-adjust the sleep mask.
The nose baffle has been replaced by two padded half-moons, sewn directly into the eye cover. While these adequately block out light, the rest right up against your eye lids and any pressure placed against the sleep mask (such as your head resting on a pillow) will push these pads into your eyes.
Dream Essentials Sweet Dreams Contour Sleep Mask
The Contour Sleep Mask lives up to it’s name by not applying any pressure on your eyes. The deep eye pockets allow you to open your eyes, even with lash extensions.
While the nose cover is a good idea in theory, it severely limits the range of faces that the sleep mask will fit. For me, only a small amount of light crept in at the bridge of my nose. For my larger nosed husband, too much light was let in to even consider this sleep mask. I am questioning the usefulness that the nose cover actually offers. The Bucky Contoured sleep mask didn’t have a nose piece and fit both my own and my husbands odd shaped faces just fine.
What really let the sleep mask down was the quality of the elastic. The narrow strap would not hold the mask in place through the night when back sleeping and constantly required readjusting.
The sizing runs large as well, and if you have a normal to small sized head you may find that even the shortest setting is too large. An extra inch of Velcro would have been all it would have taken to fix this problem.
Like other contour sleep masks, this one is unsuitable for front and side sleepers.
Dream Essentials Twilight Sleep Mask
No. No. No. Don’t wear this one. Dream Essentials again proves that they are not only capable of creating great sleep masks but also complete and utter trash as well.
Whoever decided that a rough canvas-like material would be suitable for a sleep mask should have a good talking too. Even with the light padding behind it, the sleep mask rubs uncomfortably against your eyes.
The double- thin strap design used to adjust the sleeping mask is also terrible. While you would think that two straps would provide a better fit, it actually performed worse than a single large elastic strap.
The rigid mask feels like card-board and digs uncomfortably into the face, especially if you are leaning against a pillow.
Living Pure Luxury Sleep Mask
As a contoured sleep mask, it failed to impress. The eye covers just aren’t deep enough for you to open your eyes. Your lashes drag uncomfortably on the inside of the material.
The nose piece itself just doesn’t conform to a wide range of faces. For myself, the sleep mask let in a crack of light. But for my husband, he claimed he might as well not wear a sleep mask at all.
But the biggest problem is with the strap. It bleeds. After using the Living Pure sleep mask for just a single night I had noticed that the black dye had come off the sleep mask and marked my pillow. Even after washing the sleep mask numerous times it was still able to leave faint black marks on my pillow.
As if that’s not enough to scare you away, the edges of the sleep mask began to fray after a single night of tossing and turning in my bed.
Mack’s Shut-Eye Shade
The thing I love about Mack’s sleep products is that you can pick them up anywhere, Walmart, Target, Amazon, even your local drug store. This means that if you need a eye mask in a hurry, Mack’s is always there for you.
Now I would treat Mack’s Shut-Eye Shade as a temporary sleep mask solution, until you can grab something slightly more comfortable.
While the Mack’s sleep mask is capable of leaving you perfect darkness, it’s thin elastic straps dig into all but the smallest of heads. It honestly is the sleep masks biggest problem. The cause of this appears to be the decision to use straps that are too thin. A single larger strap would solve the problem.
It does take a while to position the mask correctly so that it is not digging into your eyes. After some messing around I was able to get the sleep mask into a comfy enough position where I could even use it for side sleeping. But no matter how perfectly you position the sleep mask, the discomfort brought on by the straps will be present at the back of your head.
It’s far from perfect, but if you need darkness and you need it now then Mack’s Shut-Eye shade is easy to track down.
Mack’s Dream Girl Sleep Mask
Mack’s seem to have learned their lesson from their previous sleep mask and have made the straps a little thicker.
Unfortunately even with the more comfortable straps, Mack’s proves that two straps just aren’t as comfortable as one. Even when perfectly adjusted, there is an ever present tightness. This tightness can be distracting, especially as you are trying to fall asleep.
Despite the tightness of the straps, the mask itself applies very little pressure to the face. The eye sockets are of moderate depth. I could open my eyes when sitting upright without my eyelids touching the material. However, when laying down I felt my lashes drag scross the inside of the mask.
If you are looking for a contour sleep mask in a hurry, Mack’s offers a good temporary solution. But if you can wait for it, there are better options available.
Total Eclipse Whiteboard Sleep Mask
The Total Eclipse sleep mask came incredibly close to being the worst sleep mask I tested.
It’s not that it doesn’t provide your eyes with total blackness. It does that. Really well. It’s the nasty construction and the attempt to cut costs on every part of this sleep mask that let it down.
The mask itself is little more than foam glued to a piece of plastic. And not glued very well. All it took was for my head to rest against a pillow for the foam to begin to separating from the plastic.
A thin layer of felt covers the foam, however the felt is very crudely finished and the edges feel rough and scratchy, especially when it presses against your face.
The elastic strapping is rough enough to rub your skin raw. Something that it will actually do if you move around a lot in your sleep.
To add insult to injury, Total Eclipse claims you can use the plastic front as a whiteboard, to leave cute messages to those who find you sleeping. Yeah right, the moment you roll over that whiteboard marker ink is going to smear all over your pillow and sheets.
To then go and charge $20 for this mask is an insult.
Bedtime Bliss Contoured Sleep Mask
If you are a back sleeper or sleeping upright then there is a lot to love about the Bedtime Bliss contoured sleep mask. The mask nicely conforms to the face and blocks out all light. However, narrow noses may find that a small amount of light is let in on either side of the bridge.
However, the mask falls short when it comes to side sleeping. The mask rides up, letting light flow across your face.
The elastic strap secures in the middle behind your head. If you have short hair or are quite sensitive, the double layer of Velcro feels bulky to the point of being uncomfortable.
The bamboo and cotton material while not as smooth as silk, did not cause any irritation when pressed against my face for hours on end.
After a week of use I did notice that the Bedtime Bliss did start to lose it’s shape. The eye covers compressed to the point where I could feel my eyelashes brushing against them. This makes me concerned for the durability of this sleep mask.
A single set of Moldex 6800 ear plugs and draw-string storage bag are also included in the packaging.
Dream Essentials Escape Eye Mask
Dream Essentials manufacturers a whole range of sleep masks but these have long been one of the most popular. And with good reason, they are capable of creating perfect darkness.
I was able to achieve a perfect seal around my face. The addition of a fabric nose flap seals the mask at the bridge of the nose, a common area where light sneaks in on other sleep masks.
My main concern is that the eye masks feels stiff and bulky. I was always aware that it was attached to my face. While it does contain eye sockets so that you can open your eyes they just were not deep enough, I could feel my lashes scraping against the inside of the mask.
Again, the mask is not suitable for side sleeping as the pressure from your face against the pillow will cause the sleep mask to move around in your sleep.
Dream Essentials Dreamllite Sleep Mask
Feeling patriotic? This eye mask lets anybody who lays their sleeping eyes on your face know where your allegiance lies.
Also available in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and United Kingdom flags, there is a sleep mask just for you.
Opening up the packet I was greeted with a strong chemical smell that would not go away, even after airing it out. Fine, I’ll just wash it. Oh wait, no washing instructions are to be found anywhere on the packaging or sleep mask itself.
After just a couple of nights of wear the edges of the design began to fray and loose strands of what appeared to be polyester appeared at the sides of the sleep mask.
The padding at the sides of the sleep mask prevented any material from coming into contact with my eyes. However, it also caused an uncomfortable pressure on my nose on when laying in stomach or side sleeper positions.
Plemo Contoured Sleep Mask
The Plemo Contoured sleep mask was the narrowest sleep mask that I tested. From the moment I picked up the Plemo Sleep mask I was disappointed. Uneven padding and a scratchy polyester cover meant that getting a comfortable fit was nearly impossible.
Then there is the eye covers. They are overly padded at the bottom. Unless you position the sleep mask perfectly on your face, these pads apply excess pressure to along the nose and under your eyes.
The material trapped heat making it unsuitable for a summer eye mask, or if you sleep hot. There isn’t much that redeems this sleep mask.
Plemo Velvet Sleep Mask
Thick and bulky and sleeps hot. This is another sleep mask from Plemo that failed to hit the mark.
The sheer bulkiness’ of the sleep mask makes of the sleep mask constantly reminds you that you are wearing it.
While Plemo claims that the sleep mask is contoured, the whole thing smooshes into your face. You can feel the weight of the mask pressing against your eyeballs, even with the padding just below the eye covers.
Yeah it blocks out light, but it does so in the crudest and most uncomfortable way possible.
Plemo Light-Weight Sleep Mask
Sorry Plemo, it’s three strikes and your out. The Plemo Lightweight is perhaps the worst sleep mask I tested. It has very little going for it.
I really don’t want to rant about the shortcomings of Plemo’s sleep mask a third time, so here are my main gripes, in point form:
- The sleep mask doesn’t properly wrap to the nose letting in light
- The mask applies too much pressure across the bridge of the nose
- The elastic strap doesn’t hold the mask in place when sleeping
- The material bleeds
- The material has a strong chemical smell
As you can imagine, this lead to the lowest score out of any sleep mask I tested:
Extra Sleep Mask Tips
Before I wrap up this detailed sleep mask review I thought I would leave you with a couple of tips to help you get the most out of your sleep mask.
Sleep masks have a limited life
A sleep mask isn’t forever. I have found that a good sleep mask should last around a year with frequent use. After this time you will notice elastic starting to wear in even the most expensive of sleep masks.
So don’t get too attached to your current sleep mask. If I find a sleep masks that I absolutely love, I tend to buy a couple of spares. Manufacturers have an annoying habit of changing styles and you may be unable to purchase the same sleep mask when your current one finally breaks.
Sleep masks do one thing well and one thing only
Lastly, Let’s give up the notion that wearing a sleeping mask will make you look as regal as Holly Golightly (wonderfully portrayed by Audrey Hepburn) from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
So rather than choose a sleep mask based on how other people will look at it, choose one that is fits well and effectively blocks out light. After all, if you are going to look ugly in your sleep, you might as well be comfortable!
Watch the moisturizer
While it is always a good idea to wash your sleep mask before you wear it, to help remove any leftovers from the manufacturing process, this is doubly true if you wear moisturizer to bed.
Some cheaper sleep masks have been known to bleed, that is to say that the ink will run when exposed to moisture. Not only can this leave you looking like a raccoon when you wake up, but can also stain your pillow.
And that brings me to the end of my long rant on sleep masks. Which sleep mask is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!