Searching for the best sleep mask in 2018? Check out our pros & cons, factors to consider and choose the perfect eye mask for sleeping when traveling.
Not every flight or travel scenario involves adjustable LED lighting like the ones found on those ultra-long haul flights that make the news every now & then.
Even then, there are only so many variables you can control to ensure you get the rest you so badly crave.
Sleeping pills are one way to go but are certainly not the healthier option in the long run. Melatonin is a chemical your body needs to produce to help you fall asleep.
LED lighting for example, although great at conserving energy can be really bright. Sleeping masks are a great way to block light from your eyes and enable your body to produce melatonin.
When you are at home you can simply turn the light out but when you are on a plane or on a bus you don’t really control the light switch. That’s where sleep masks really come to the rescue.
10 Best Sleep Masks for your Eyes
Nowadays, eye masks do a lot more and can aid with relaxation, some designs muffle sound, some cool your eyes etc. We’ve combed through a whole bunch of designs and so you can easily find the right one for your needs.
1. Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep Mask
- The fit may loosen over time
The Alaska Bear is our pick for the best sleep mask in the market today. The first thing we noticed was how soft the material is. The Alaska Bear is made of 100% natural silk which also makes it much more breathable than synthetic fabrics. The strap is pretty easy to adjust so you can play around with it so that the fit suits your preferences.
The Alaska Bear is pretty thin and is designed to rest flat on your face which is one of the reasons folks find it very comfortable. The soft construction basically ensures the pressure on your face isn’t too much despite its design. This masks’ design bodes particularly well for side sleepers as the area it covers is a lot. Usually, sleep masks sometimes push into the pillow when you turn which can make it uncomfortable but the Alaska Bear tends to shift marginally which works out really well for side sleepers.
Just like almost any product ever made not everything is perfect. Thanks to the snug fit it can mess around with your makeup and users did report the fit loosening when used every day for many months. Also, it’s important to note that this mask definitely doesn’t block ALL the light. We found that some very small amount of light sneaks in through the nose area.
2. Bedtime Bliss Sleep Mask
- The strap can be hard to adjust
- Shaky durability if used daily
The Bedtime Bliss is one of the ever-popular sleep masks around these days. Its contoured design which allows it to do a great job of blocking any light from sneaking in is just one of the reasons that makes it a great sleep mask for those who like to relax and sleep comfortably on long travels.
This is one the masks that you don’t have to adjust so much after you fall asleep. There’s plenty of room for your eyes so you can blink and the pressure it applies on your face isn’t too much. If you are wearing make-up as you travel this one doesn’t disrupt that so much either which is a positive. The mask is pretty comfortable to wear in general but the shape of your head & how tight you fasten the strap can make your experience a bit more subjective to call for this design especially.
The Velcro strap can be a tad inconvenient because your hair can get caught in it. Another reason that goes against the Velcro is that it tends to loosen over time and even during your nap. The mask caters to a wide variety of face shapes but the indentation at the nose can result in it slipping down from time to time. Side sleepers might find this mask to be a bit of a letdown as it can push against the pillow but definitely works in situations like when you are flying or are on a train.
Whilst, the other issues can be small & niggling the major complaint most folks had was to do with how long the mask actually lasts. The Bedtime Bliss tends to break after regular (not prolonged) use and in some cases may even result in a layer of fabric coming off. Overall, this mask does have plenty of upsides in terms of weight & comfort that makes it one of the better ones out there. It's also very good for REM sleep.
3. Jersey Slumber Silk Sleep Mask
- Prevents you from blinking
- Might not suit all sleeping positions
Comfort. If we were to sum up what this mask offers the most in one word that would be it. At first glance you can see its similarity to many other silk sleeping masks in the market but the one thing that the Jersey Slumber excels at is offering superb comfort at a very affordable price.
The Jersey Slumber is particularly good for people with sensitive eyes that have issues with tightness, rubbing and lack of breathability. If other masks didn’t do the job this one sure can. The silk construction makes for an extremely soft feel on the eyes but the flat design results in no room to blink or open your eyes when you have the mask on. Size wise it’s fairly large which aids in keeping the light out.
The catch with this mask is that the plastic component that holds the mask together has proved to be uncomfortable for some users but one’s experience can vary based on the shape of their head. The adjustable slider strap is employed here which is pretty easy to use. Another common theme with masks that don’t employ a contoured design and are super soft is that some light may sneak in around the nose. All in all, this is an excellent sleep mask at a great price.
4. Dream Essentials Luxury Travel & Sleep Mask
- Minor light leaking issues
- Not comfortable if you lie face down
The Dream Essentials Luxury Mask comes with a fuzzy front and a soft back section made of 100% cotton. The design features indentations & foam padding which makes it one of the few masks where you can comfortably open your eyes.
There is a small satin bridge around the nose area which makes its flexibility much better than other masks whilst eliminating light that tends to creep in too. We found the foam padding and the finish to be extremely soft & really functional at the very same time. The newer version of this mask features a metal strap instead of a Velcro adjustment strap. There were some users who preferred the ease of use offered by the Velcro design but the metal strap doesn’t result in tangled hair so it’s definitely a positive change for us.
It can be hard at times to find good masks for side sleepers that actually block out light & be comfortable without having a trade-off. This offering comes pretty close to being ideal for side sleepers. The entire mask can be easily bent, unlike the more robust designs and you can lie down without feeling pressure on your nose or your pillow being pushed away. That amount of flexibility does come at a cost though since some light does sneak in from under the bridge section, much to the displeasure of some folks. The soft front can result in some hair getting collected but it’s pretty easy to remove which wasn’t too big of a concern as well.
5. Nidra Deep Rest Eye Mask
- Fragile – not for everyday usage
- Headstrap is a bit sharp
The Nidra Eye Mask is another that features the contoured design and is particularly good for travelers. It’s clear to see that scenarios like flying & car travel were kept in mind when the design was crafted. This eye mask is made of Polyester which drastically improves breathability.
The cup’s contoured shape provides good protection for your eye lashes if you happen to blink. The nose bridge caters to almost any shape and size. The Velcro straps on this one are particularly elastic when compared to other Velcro strapped masks around. This definitely seemed to be a much debated issue amongst users based on their unique preferences. The straps are a bit sharp which can leave marks on your ears at times.
The design especially for the nose section really ensures you can breathe easily and sleep comfortably. A con with this mask is that it’s quite large so it’s much better suited to folks with a larger face. It can suit some people with a smaller face but it can be a tossup. Another issues that was reported was that the mask is extremely frail. We did notice its rather delicate nature but the inner fabric can come loose if you happen to use this on a daily bases. Hence, it’s much better suited to scenarios where you use it during travel alone.
6. IMAK Pain Relief Mask/ Eye Pillow
- Not designed for overnight sleep
- Strap can't be adjusted
The IMAK Compression Eye Pillow is quite a unique on our list in the sense that it contains ergoBeads that massages two muscles around the eye that most people don’t realize they have. This mask wasn’t intended for overnight use so it’s more suited to travelers around the world.
The cushioning essentially aims to promote blood circulation and keep your muscles relaxed. The mask is designed to sit a bit away from your eyes, taking the pressure off your eye lids which also allows you to open your eyes a bit when the mask is on. It blocks out light well enough. Although it is designed for relaxation, whether the mask actually aids users with a migraine is a hot topic and we found it to have a positive effect in most cases.
The distribution of the beads are pretty even after the mask was updated as well, which provides the right amount of pressure around the eyes without you experiencing any strain on your eye lids. The design itself can feel a bit flimsy though which was a bit disappointing. The exterior is made from a cotton lycra hybrid which definitely feels soft. The major downside for this mask is that the strap isn’t adjustable which can in some cases leave it being too tight or too loose. Also, the eye mask is washable, machine washing it can damage the mask.
7. Sleep Master Sleep Mask
- Doesn't muffle sound like it states
- Can make you feel hot quickly
The Sleep Master features a unique design which fuses the strap component and the main mask section giving a bigger mask padded with Satin. The mask wraps around your head which aids it in muffling some sound.
The design of the mask can work both ways it can be soft and comfortable for most but some find it to be a tad bulky and would like better breathability. Overall, the satin padding is quite generous and extremely comfortable around the eyes. It’s not a contoured design so the mask is pretty much right up against your eyes. The V-shaped nose opening is well positioned but some light can sneak in through there in practice if your head is smaller.
The only couple of downsides with this mask are that the sound muffling isn’t all that great and the eye mask can get hot pretty quickly, despite the satin feeling rather cool initially. Wearing it isn’t too much of an issue and the easiest way is to pull it down over your eyes similar to other masks on offer.
8. Dream Essentials Infinity Sleep Mask
- Generates a lot of heat
- Very thick
The 2nd Dream Essentials sleep mask on our list is made entire of Fleece. It features a rather thick fleece layering which ensures it does an awesome job of keeping even bright light out.
Unlike other masks that provide a blackout experience, this one doesn’t contain a foam padding or cut outs for your eyes, the Infinity instead is essentially a fleece cut out in the shape of a typical sleep mask. The fleece does an excellent job of blocking out any incoming light and is even softer than many foam alternatives. The flipside of this, however, is that it can generate a lot more heat which goes against providing a relaxing experience.
This mask sits quite well and doesn’t need you to adjust it time and time again. This applies even for side sleepers which is a positive. The strap is also quite comfortable when compared to others on our list here. The strap is designed to sit above the head so it doesn’t fold down or gets pinned to your head. This mask isn’t all rosy as its one of the bulkier ones. Your probably thinking if it does such a great job of blocking light why is it all the way down here on your list. Well, the heat generated is a con and despite its excellent light blocking capabilities this tends to influence how comfortable a long sleep can be.
9. YIVIEW Sleep Mask, 3 Set
- Big and clunky
- Strap could be tighter
The YIVIEW is another impressive eye mask that we simply couldn’t ignore. It’s quite inexpensive and the feel is rather sturdy which we liked very much.
The first question that can pop into your head is how sturdy is this mask exactly considering its inexpensive pricing. Well, it can feel a bit cheap & flimsy compared to the more durable options on our list but it does last long and doesn’t come apart as easily as you might think. There’s also plenty of room for you to blink and this can sway many users to opt for the YIVIEW. It’s not every day you get your hands on a contoured design for so less. The Velcro strap is easy to tighten but doesn’t tighten enough to our liking which can make you feel like this mask is always a bit loose which can disrupt the experience for owners.
Melatonin as you know is key for a good sleep that leaves your body well rested and this mask aids that by blocking out most of the light. The indentation in the nose area does leave room for some light to sneak in. The nose bridge was also a con for some as it tends to pitch ones nose which can make it a bit uncomfortable to wear. No cotton was used in the construction of this mask which can result in a bit of a chemical smell during initial use. The extra padding over the eyes was also a nice feature.
10. Simple Health Sleeping Eye Mask
- Questionable fabric
- Not for side sleepers
- Rather small
The Simple Health mask looks like a traditional blindfold-style sleep mask, but it’s stiffer than many of them. The gel insert adds thickness to the mask without making it any stiffer. It does a pretty good job of blocking light too.
It doesn't block out all of the ambient light. Nonetheless, the addition of a small piece of fabric over the nose blocks out the light that comes into the mask through that section. This definitely doesn’t collect any hair though which is a positive for many, not just us. This mask is meant more for relaxation purposes rather than for a full night’s sleep. The gel can heated or cooled prior to use. If you decide to go with a cool pack ensure you don’t leave it on for too long a period as the compression can cause some blurry vision for a few mins. The mask also comes with an elastic headband that can be easily adjusted.
You can easily lie on the side wearing the mask, but after a few minutes, it may become uncomfortable. The gel becomes largely pooled on the side you're lying on which makes it a no-go for side sleepers. The fabric is not the most comfortable around and many folks who tried it felt the same way.
How exactly do eye masks help me sleep better?
Having the perfect travel pillow or some earplugs can make a long flight or bumpy car ride more comfortable & can help you to some extent but not as much as sleep masks can. How exactly? Well, let’s just touch upon the science involved with sleep.
The brain regulates the transition between wakefulness and sleep. Your brain also does the job of regulating the quantity and depth of your sleep. The Pineal gland in the middle of your brain naturally produces a hormone called melatonin. This usually occurs when the sun goes down and darkness sets in. As melatonin levels rise you feel sleepy or less alert. This hormone tends to stay elevated throughout the night till daylight or light is back in play.
In reality, many things like caffeine, bright light, screen time can hinder the production of this hormone as you are essentially mixed signals through your receptors. Which is why dimming the lights in your home at night or putting your phones away early can help you sleep easier. Sleep Masks essentially help you regulate your exposure to light or darkness. Sometimes even the screen next to you on an airplane can be enough to keep you awake all night. Masks that block the light 100% or even 99% of the time can supplement this process.
Factors to consider when buying sleep masks
Here are some of the factors that can play an important role in which mask you choose to buy. These can be quite subjective but we hope the criteria we’ve used to pick can also aid you in your decisions.
Before we jump into things like material, weight, durability etc. It’s important you know where exactly you plan to use the mask. Is it during regular travel? At home every day perhaps? All these can shape which design you opt for. How you tend to sleep is another element that needs to be factored in. If you like sleeping on the side then pick ones like the Dream essentials Luxury mask that excels in those aspects. Also, are you using the masks just to block light or for something more like pain relief, keeping your eyes cool or relief from migraines, perhaps? Thicker options like Imak are ones to take a closer look at in this case.
The most commonly used materials are silk, satin, cotton & even gels & beads. Each has their own unique properties which they excel at. If your need is ultimate comfort than silk is usually the way to go. Some silk masks also have a Satin lining which helps it block 100% of the light instead of 99% which makes it a formidable option. Silk is pretty great especially if you have sensitive skin and are in need of something really soft. It’s hard to wash these, however.
Cottom is very breathable which can make your experience that comfortable. And just like silk, its also very light so many masks that were featured on our list are made of either silk or cotton. We looked for things like Satin linings which enriches your experience by providing a soft alternative for a nose bridge. This is the region that can really get uncomfortable if you happen to lie face down or if the straps really tight.
Gels & beads were also an interesting option and one which we found to be highly positive. The beads do a great job of evening out pressure points and the gels give you temperature adjustment options. This sort of versatility is something we looked upon favorably and so can you.
Shape, Size & Weight
This factor can be extremely subjective. Hence, what we essentially looked for is the ability of a mask to cater to a wide range of face sizes & shapes. Pretty much all on our list are quite light, despite some designs being on the bulkier side. Aesthetics aren’t something we gave too much importance to. Functionality was key.
Some designs wrap around your head completely whilst others feature contoured sections for your eyes. All these variations give you interesting alternatives to choose from. Flatter designs excel at being extremely comfortable and the snug fit can be uncomfortable if not well executed. Which is why you see many of these utilizing silk to give you that balance. These tend to do a great job of blocking out light as long as you sleep straight and not move around too much.
Another positive contoured designs have going for them is that they are excellent for side sleepers typically as the masks don’t tend to move around a lot. This is an additional benefit to blinking and opening your eyes when the mask is on of course.
Again, this depends on your usage scenario. If you are traveling long distance and don’t mind if your eyeliner or makeup gets all messed up then you can pick your mask based on other criteria. Makeup protection is something we regarded very highly as this can be vital for business travelers and even those on shorter trips. Business meetings are events where you really need to look your best and you’ll need a mask that aids you in achieving that. Having said that our top pick doesn’t do the best job of preserving appearances but many others (particularly contoured designs) at the top do. Again this can be subjective to your preferences.
Just like almost every product out there, we wouldn’t want to be buying these often. Many designs feature adjustable straps which aid in making the experience comfortable and helps to make sure all the light is blocked out. Designs that features metal or plastic strap designs were preferred over the velcro options as the latter tends to come loose over time which affects overall durability. Yes, velcros are easy to use but if you are looking at a mask for everyday use then the adjustable straps will last you longer.
The durability of the eyecups is of paramount importance for us. We looked closely at the ability of the eye masks to keep its layers from wearing or coming apart during regular use. The durability is also influenced by the material surfaces used. Some materials can be washed whilst others can’t so any moisture or dirt can have a negative impact on some designs like the Jersey Slumber.