Best Sleep Masks

Best Sleep Masks

We tried a weighted sleep mask, the popular Lunya and Slip masks, and others to find out which ones could help us get our beauty rest

By Angela Lashbrook

If you’re having trouble sleeping, a sleep mask is one of the most cost-effective and safe ways to improve your chances of falling and staying asleep. Even small sources of light, such as from car headlights or a computer screen, can have an impact on your sleep quality, so finding ways to block out that light may have a significant effect on your ability to get a good night’s rest.

Darkness is incredibly important to getting a healthy night’s sleep, according to Molly Atwood, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine whose research focuses on sleep. That’s because our circadian rhythm, which acts as an internal sleep clock, is regulated by the cycle of darkness and light that we experience every 24 hours.

“So if it’s light [at night], our brain doesn’t get that message that it’s time to sleep,” she says. “Whether it’s coming from outside or there’s some kind of blue or white light from electronics in your bedroom, sleep masks could be helpful for making sure that your brain is not getting any light signals at night.”

Of course, you wear a sleep mask only while you’re about to actually go to sleep, so any bright blue or white light exposure in the hours before bedtime could still cause sleep issues. (This is why doctors recommend putting down the phone a couple of hours before going to bed.)

While you could certainly tie a bandana around your eyes every evening, a sleep mask is better suited to the task. But getting the right one is crucial. A bad sleep mask can put uncomfortable pressure on your eyes, fail at blocking out the light, and slip off during the night. A good one, on the other hand, can become part of a comforting nightly ritual, play a significant part in transforming your sleep quality, and help you feel more energized day to day. 

How We Evaluated These Sleep Masks

A team of five evaluators, including me, spent several nights in each mask to assess its comfort, appearance, and ability to block light. We were, frankly, shocked—in a very good way—by our findings. We ranked our picks according to the following criteria: 

Does the Mask Fit Comfortably?
We looked for sleep masks that are gentle on the skin, don’t have uncomfortable seams or tags, and fit snugly around the head without feeling tight. 

Does the Mask Block Out All Light?
This integral feature of sleep masks is surprisingly difficult to accomplish, apparently. Many of the masks we tried let in some light. Because head shapes and facial features differ significantly, a mask that blocked light for me didn’t necessarily block light for someone else. 

Does the Mask Slip Off While You Sleep? 
There’s little point to a mask that falls off in the middle of the night. Some of the best-looking ones were also the worst in this regard. 

Does the Mask Affect Your Hair Overnight?
For folks with long or curly hair, a sleep mask can present trouble by getting tangled in it, even catching on strands and tearing them. Not fun. Not relaxing.

How Do You Feel About the Mask’s Appearance?
Would you wear it on a plane or would you want to wear it only at home? Some sleep masks make wearers look bug-eyed or as if they have bras on their faces. Others resemble diapers. This may or may not be a problem in the comfort of your own home, depending on how much weight you place on appearance vs. performance. But on a plane, where people besides your sleep partner will see you snooze, you may be more attuned to how your sleep mask looks. Or not—no judgment! Flying sucks, and making it as painless as possible is a priority for a lot of us. Regardless, we considered the sleep mask’s beauty in our evaluations because it does matter to us and maybe to you, too.

Price paid: $17
Where to buy: Amazon, Walmart

Well, this was a surprise. As far as we can tell, this brand is primarily sold on Amazon. It has no website and simply makes and sells two sleep masks, one of which we can attest is extremely good and which Mzoo also calls a “blindfold.” (Good to know!)

Despite Mzoo’s lack of any fancy marketing or active social media presence, this is the mask we think most people will like. It’s affordable, well designed, and effective at blocking light for most face shapes and head sizes. My team of evaluators had a wide range of preferences and needs, and yet most of us agreed that the Mzoo mask was a great option. Ginger, who rated it her No. 1 mask, said that it “blocks all light, stays on all night, fits my big head, and doesn’t mess up my hair.” I found that it stayed in place, too, though my head is on the small side. 

The Mzoo has soft, contoured memory foam eye coverings designed to rest on the contours of the eyes but not come into contact with them, a nice feature for folks with long or fake eyelashes or those who simply don’t like the feeling of fabric resting against their eyes. It has a slider buckle (similar to those found on bra straps) that allows the wearer to loosen or tighten the backstrap around the head. I prefer this style to others, such as those with Velcro, because it’s easy to get the mask to fit without it snagging in hair or making lots of noise when the wearer opens or closes it. 

“It was easy to adjust, and the cushioned areas felt nice and relaxing on my tired eyes. The [eyeball] cavities gave my eyeballs some breathing room,” said Perry Santanachote, an evaluator and writer at Consumer Reports who ranked the MZOO as her top mask. “I don’t wear eye masks on planes but if I did, I wouldn’t be embarrassed about this one, even though it’s bigger than I think it needs to be.”

Sure, this mask isn’t going to win any beauty awards. It’s pretty plain except for the brand’s dated logo on the right side. But it’s not offensively hideous, either, so while it’s not the best gift for the fashionable people in your life, it’s an excellent treat for yourself.

Price paid: $10
Where to buy: Amazon, Walmart

Silk! For $10! It’s real and so cozy. I have a rather small face, so I was surprised that this one worked so well for me. It blocked all light without pressing down uncomfortably against my nose and making me feel suffocated. (Yes, some masks have that effect.) We tried the single-strap version, which kept the mask in place for most of our evaluators throughout the night. It felt luxurious despite the price. 

“I love how lightweight this mask is. It feels incredibly delicate on my face and it’s simplicity at its finest,” said Anna Kocharian, a shopping and deals editor at Consumer Reports. It is, indeed, lightweight, and a great option for those who have struggled with sleep masks in the past. It’s so weightless and soft against the skin, it’s easy to forget you even have it on. (Except for the fact that, you know, you can’t see anything.) The Alaska Bear fits the bill if appearances are important to you because while large, it’s a classic shape with a very simple design. “Would wear it anywhere,” said Cesar Carroll, a market analyst at CR who ranked the Alaska Bear as his second favorite mask. 

If you need a contoured sleep mask that leaves space for your lashes, though, this obviously won’t work for you. Ginger disliked it for that reason and because it’s not machine-washable.

Price paid: $50
Where to buy: Amazon, Slip, Walmart

There’s no doubt about it: This popular mask is gorgeous. It’s made with stunning silk fabric, with colors including a lush navy, a graceful ballet pink, and an opulent gold. (There are also prints on the company’s Amazon page featuring lipstick smooches, paisley, and an embroidered “rosé all day.”) It has a scrunchy backstrap that stretches rather than adjusts, which allows for a more seamless look (but perhaps an imperfect fit).

“I love this mask! Super-soft and comfortable to wear. Did not notice it was even there during sleep,” Cesar said. “Packaging was fancy and the little details of the mask make it my favorite.” Anna also rated it her top mask. “I love it for its minimalist and aesthetically pleasing design, and the quality of the silk.” She said it’s perfectly suited for wearing on a plane, too. 

Some of us, however, found that the mask was true to its name and slipped during the night. I woke up with it around my neck. Ginger called it “pathetic.” “It was the only one that refused to stay in place. I woke repeatedly while wearing it on several nights, and it was always on my pillow,” she said. 

The Slip is a gamble; it doesn’t fit everyone well, but among the evaluators who liked it, they loved it. Get it as a gift for your most stylish friend or family member this holiday season. And be sure to include a receipt because the company accepts returns for items that don’t fit.

Price paid: $17.95
Where to buy: Amazon, Nidra

I can’t get over it: This mask is hilarious! I couldn’t decide if it looks more like a bra or bug eyes. Still, those strange contoured eye cups are appealing to people with lash extensions or who dislike the feeling of fabric on their lids. Perry found it comfortable, writing in her evaluation, “It contours the orbital bones nicely and the eye mask is convex, giving the eyes some space without any pressure.” Ginger liked it, too. “It blocks all light, stays on all night, fits my big head, and doesn’t mess up my hair,” she said. 

The material of the inner eye mask cups is made of a somewhat textured material that felt a little bit rough on my skin. I also found it to be too wide on my face, and the cups bumped into my pillow during the night, knocking the mask out of place. I was completely unable to keep it in place, and I suspect that others with small faces will have similar issues. The awkward sizing also meant that light leaked in around the bridge of my nose.

But if your head is average or big, you might love the Nidra mask. The price is good, it offers lots of space for the eyes to flutter freely, and even the appearance can be cool if you consider it from a different perspective. “I took a picture of myself wearing it, as I did with all the masks, and I looked like I was in the final phase of Jeff Goldblum’s metamorphosis in ‘The Fly’ but in a cool way,” Perry said. Who hasn’t at one point dreamed of that?

Price paid: $48
Where to buy: Lunya

There’s a reason most of the models on the Lunya website aren’t actually wearing the mask over their eyes: The mask itself looks a bit silly. It’s huge and poofy, which makes it very comfortable (albeit warm) to wear. But because it’s made of beautiful silk in calming, neutral colors, it looks expensive and luxurious, which it is. 

The Lunya mask has a wide, scrunchy backstrap, fits over the ears, and muffles some sound. Ginger mentioned that she liked that the mask helped keep her AirPods tucked in, which I also appreciated. On nights when I really struggle to fall asleep, I like to listen to an old audiobook I’ve already read until I’m soothed into slumber, and this mask helped facilitate that. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Among the things to sneeze at: The backstrap is stretchy but not adjustable, so it didn’t stay in place well for every evaluator. “It kept sliding down my face and was a bit tight for me,” Cesar said. Perry also struggled with the size of the mask. “On Day Two, I put the strap between layers of hair and it still slipped, but instead of slipping all the way off, it slipped up to my forehead and stayed there,” Perry said. It also failed to block all the light for her. 

This mask may work for some; I’ll definitely wear it again. But most of our evaluators rated it at the middle of their picks, and some at the bottom. Buy it at your own risk.

Price paid: $35
Where to buy: Amazon, Manta

The Manta Sleep Mask calls itself “the only mask designed, constructed, and optimized for deepest-possible sleep in any environment.” But what does that mean? Are other sleep masks not designed, constructed, and optimized for the deepest possible sleep—in any environment? Whether or not they accomplish their goals, it’s safe to say that most sleep masks are probably crafted to help their wearers sleep better. 

But did the Manta Sleep Mask achieve its supposedly singular goal of facilitating the deepest-possible sleep in any environment? Spoiler: Sadly, no. Not for most of us, anyway. 

I disliked this mask immensely. It didn’t fit comfortably over my eyes and left huge gaps that light filtered through while I tried to sleep. One theoretically intelligent design feature is that the eyecups—which are shaped and feel much like over-ear headphones—are removable and can be placed in a different position on the supporting surface of the mask. But the inside of that surface, where the eyecups adhere, lacks markers, so it’s difficult to figure out where to put the cups after you’ve removed them or how to match the left one to the right. 

Other evaluators didn’t like it, either, and mentioned a variety of reasons for their distaste. “I may have said that I have zero shame in what I wear on a plane, but I don’t think I’d want to wear this one in public,” Anna said. “This isn’t the mask for me. It feels like it’s doing too much, and the doughnut holes weren’t very comfortable.” Cesar agreed. “This mask was not comfortable, despite being very customizable. The deep eye pockets created too much pressure for me,” he said.

However! One dissenter adored the Manta and rated it her third favorite mask: Ginger. “I liked that the side bands are slightly wider and can partially cover my ears,” she said. “I tried sleeping with AirPod Pros, and the straps helped ensure they stayed in all night.”

Manta offers returns, so it’s not a super-risky purchase.

Price paid: $40
Where to buy: Gravity Blankets

Why a weighted mask? None of our evaluators could quite figure out how putting a bean bag on your face (as Perry described it) is supposed to help you sleep. The mask is filled with glass beads and distributes three-quarters of a pound to a pound of weight on what Gravity calls “key pressure points” on areas surrounding the eyes. The company, which makes weighted blankets, claims that it “uses the same science behind our Gravity Blankets to give your face the perfect pressure stimulation.” However, while there’s some research to support the use of a weighted blanket for anxiety, both Heidy Merius, DNP, a training sleep technologist at the Stony Brook University Sleep Disorders Center in New York, and Atwood at Johns Hopkins say they aren’t aware of any studies indicating that weighted masks can help people sleep. (Both Merius and Atwood were speaking about weighted masks generally, not the Gravity Mask specifically). But Merius said that if a person found a weighted mask beneficial for their sleep, then it’s worth using. 

None of us found it beneficial for our sleep, though. Perry, in fact, experienced the opposite, noting that it kept her up for a while, which is unusual for her. I found it odd and pointless. It made my eyesight blurry after I took it off, so it might have been too much pressure for my eyes. It shifted back and forth when I moved around in bed, which was distracting and woke me up. And it’s not much use on a plane. “Considering how heavy this one is, it doesn’t feel conducive to using on a plane, especially if I’m not able to lie down,” Anna said. “Sitting upright, the mask weighed heavily on my nose and the pressure was quite uncomfortable.”

On the plus side, it does block out all light, because “it physically forces your eyelids shut,” Perry said.

Do You Need a Sleep Mask?

There are a number of things you should consider if you’re struggling to sleep. Is your mattress comfortable? Do you need a new or better pillow? “Sleep masks are great for trying to optimize your sleep or if you feel like there’s something in your environment that’s impairing your ability to get the most restful sleep you can,” Atwood says. “But if you have something like an insomnia disorder or another sleep issue, these are helpful but not sufficient.” In that case, you might want to make an appointment with a sleep specialist who can diagnose what’s causing your snoring, neck pain, anxiety, or whatever else is making it difficult to get rest.

But if you’ve adjusted the rest of your sleep environment to your liking and are reasonably sure that the issue is more the presence of light than anything else, a sleep mask is a fantastic and relatively cheap option for improving your slumber. Some people, such as folks who work night shifts and sleep during the day, may particularly benefit from a sleep mask, Atwood says. I find it helpful when my husband is up late working (or playing video games) on his computer, which is in our bedroom. There’s limited research on the efficacy of sleep masks, but a 2017 systematic review found that masks and earplugs can be helpful for patients in intensive care units, though the study authors noted that the research included in the review wasn’t of great quality. A small 2020 randomized controlled trial found that sleep masks and earplugs were better than recorded ocean sounds at improving sleep for ICU patients.

Even the process of putting on and wearing a mask in bed can help you sleep, according to Merius. “Getting into a regular rhythm and keeping a consistent bedtime can help signal the brain that it is time for sleep,” she says. This can—but doesn’t have to—include a sleep mask. 

There’s another reason to get a sleep mask, albeit one that isn’t discussed in the research: Once you put it on, you can’t keep staring into your phone, a habit that is definitely not helping anyone get any sleep. As someone who simply loves browsing Zillow or reading the news before bed (in other words, nightmare fuel galore), that’s reason enough for me.

This product evaluation is part of Consumer Reports’ Outside the Labs reviews program, which is separate from our laboratory testing and ratings. Our Outside the Labs reviews are performed at home and in other native settings by individuals, including our journalists, with specialized subject matter experience or familiarity and are designed to offer another important perspective for consumers as they shop. While the products or services mentioned in this article might not currently be in CR’s ratings, they could eventually be tested in our laboratories and rated according to an objective, scientific protocol.

Like all CR evaluations of products and services, our Outside the Labs reviews are independent and free from advertising. If you’d like to learn more about the criteria for our lab testing, please go to CR’s Research & Testing page.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2022, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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