Sleep is one of the most fundamental things we humans need for survival, yet too few of us are actually getting the recommended seven to nine hours a night, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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There's a lot we could say about the health effects of lack of sleep, but in short: It's not doing you any favors.
But if you have problems falling or staying asleep, there's a whole market of sleep products out there that might help. One of the simplest and most effective? Sleep masks.
"Nighttime light exposure can disrupt our internal circadian rhythm, and sleep masks work by blocking out artificial light," explains Sunjya Schweig, MD, expert in complex chronic illnesses and founder and president of the California Center for Functional Medicine. "In addition to blocking out ambient light to provide an opportunity for deeper and longer sleep, some people find that the gentle weight over their eyes helps them relax and fall asleep more easily."
Like most sleep-related products, there's no shortage of options when it comes to sleep masks. Here are some of the best sleep masks of 2022, according to Dr. Schweig and other sleep experts.
1. Best Overall: MZOO Sleep Eye Mask
Talk about comfortable. This sleep mask is made from memory foam that adjusts to fit your face like a glove and high-quality fiber that's soft against your skin.
Thanks to its contoured eye cups, it has a gentle but firm hold without applying any pressure to your actual eyelids. You can even open and close your eyes while wearing it. The adjustable buckle straps allow you to fully customize the fit, no matter your head circumference, and it is made from a gentle material that won't catch on your hair.
Choose between four different colors, each of which come with a drawstring bag so you can easily store your mask during the day and take it with you when you travel.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $19
2. Best on a Budget: Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask
You can tell by the rave reviews that this sleep mask is a top contender. And then, when you get a good look at its price tag, it's clear to see it's worth the buy.
Made from five layers of fabric, including cotton, elastic sponge and madeira — all of which are super breathable and sit lightly on the eye area — this mask morphs to fit your face and even has an area made specifically to sit on the bridge of your nose.
It's larger than most other masks, which is why Nicole M. Avena, PhD, assistant professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and visiting professor of health psychology at Princeton University, is a big fan: The mask fully blocks out any light in your sleeping area, and it has adjustable straps that fit heads ranging from 19 to 29 inches.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $10
3. Best Luxury Buy: Tempur-Pedic Sleep Mask
If you're already a fan of Tempur-Pedic products, it won't surprise you to learn the company makes a sleep mask — and it's just as comfortable as you'd imagine. Not only does it contour around your face with a gentle pressure, thanks to the signature TEMPUR material, but it provides total darkness so you can get more peaceful shut-eye.
The elastic straps are adjustable and comfortable and have a Velcro closure that stays firmly attached and in place. The only drawback, according to reviewers, is that the Tempur-Pedic material makes it a bit heavier than other sleep masks, although some people appreciate this weight and find that it helps them sleep more soundly.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $27
4. Best Weighted: Nodpod Gentle Pressure Sleep Mask
You may have heard about the benefits of weighted blankets, including anxiety relief, comfort and security, relaxation and improved sleep quality, per the Sleep Foundation, so it only makes sense that a weighted sleep mask option would be available.
This one wraps around your head and gently ties in the back — almost like it's giving your head a hug while you sleep. It's made out of a soft, velvety material and has 100 percent blackout features, preventing all light from reaching your eyes. Its scalloped edge contours tightly to your face and can be altered and adjusted.
If you're sensitive to temperatures, you'll appreciate that this sleep mask is dual-sided — one side has a cooling effect and the other has a warming effect.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $34
5. Best Silk: Slip Silk Sleep Mask
If silk is a quality you'd like in your sleep mask, the pricing will be higher than most other materials — but that's OK, because the softness makes all the difference, Avena says. Not only does it feel nice on the skin, but it provides a few extra beauty benefits to boot. "Silk can help combat wrinkling and skin irritation that other masks may encourage," Avena says.
This mask is made out of 100 percent pure mulberry silk without toxic dyes that could lead to skin irritation. Also a perk: The design options are practically limitless — it comes in 32 variations of colors and prints so you can tailor your mask to your personality, or purchase more than one in different styles.
The only drawback of this mask is that it's hand-wash only, but because it's so small, it shouldn't take up too much time. Plus, the silk dries super fast.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $50
6. Best Bluetooth: Joseche Wireless Bluetooth Sleeping Mask
You'd be hard pressed to find something this sleep mask doesn't do. On the laundry list of perks, the built-in Bluetooth speaker system is at the very top. It produces an HD HIFI sound and can connect to any smartphone or tablet with the click of a button and play music, meditation, white noise — whatever you like.
Its battery life is also impressive: It charges via USB cable and lasts about nine hours, so you know it'll work throughout your entire night.
With all its high-tech features, the Joseche doesn't sacrifice in the comfort department. It has a soft fabric liner that's gentle on the skin and flexible straps that you can adjust to your liking. It's also machine-washable, so you can throw it right in with your laundry — just be sure to remove the speaker beforehand.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $23
7. Best Contoured: Manta Weighted Sleep Mask
While this sleep mask is on the pricier side, it has rave reviews — and for good reason. It comes with eye cups and weighted head straps that you attach to the mask itself, which allows for full customization. The eye cups block out 100 percent of light because they close in around each eye individually. Although they provide a gentle pressure, you're still able to fully open and close your eyes, which is a plus for many.
"The weight is particularly good for people who deal with anxiety, and the memory foam eyepieces prevent pressure on the eyelids or face, thus encouraging REM sleep," says Dr. Schweig. "The material is soft yet durable and is made of a snag-free material so it holds up over time."
Last, but importantly, it comes with free shipping and a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Buy it: Manta Sleep; Price: $45
What to Look for in a Sleep Mask
Here are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for a sleep mask:
1. Breathable Fabric
Considering you'll be wearing this sleep mask for several hours at a time, it's important to choose one made from a breathable fabric to avoid sweating where the sleep mask hugs your face.
"Lightweight silk fabrics will breathe and feel nice to the skin," notes Allison Siebern, PhD, a sleep health psychologist who's board-certified in behavioral sleep medicine and Proper's Head Sleep Science Advisor. "If the adjustable strap is also made of silk, it will also help protect your hair from getting snagged."
2. Snug Fit
Your sleep mask should fit snugly, so that it doesn't fall off in the middle of the night, but it's also important that it's not too tight. The right fit is important, which is why Siebern believes an adjustable strap is ideal.
"Some masks have elastic straps while others have a slide adjuster and others have Velcro," she says. "You will need to experiment to learn which is best for you, but I'd be careful with the Velcro for fear of snarling your hair."
3. Contoured Eye Cups
Contoured eye cups cover the eye area in such a way that the material does not touch the closed lids. This can be preferable for people who don't like pressure on their eyelids while they sleep.
Others, however, find that a little bit of weight and pressure on the eyes can be relaxing and help them doze off to sleep, notes Dr. Schweig.
A weighted mask can help relieve pressure, but it should not weigh too much. A happy medium is between 0.75 and 1 pound, Avena says.
"It is a good alternative to a weighted blanket if you want to use something weighted for relaxation," she adds.
Your mask is going to get dirty, just like anything else you sleep with all night. For this reason, it's a good idea to make sure that your sleep mask is machine-washable. Look for a material like cotton, which won't get destroyed in the wash, Avena says.
For a product you're using nightly, you want to make sure it can last at least several months, if not years, so it needs to be made of durable, high-quality materials. Avena recommends looking for a silk mask and washing it according to the instructions on the packaging.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Sleep Deprivation
- Sunjya Schweig, MD, Schweig, expert in complex chronic illnesses and Founder and President of California Center for Functional Medicine
- Nicole M. Avena, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Visiting Professor of Health Psychology at Princeton University and author of What to Eat When You Want to Get Pregnant
- Weighted Blanket Benefits
- Allison Siebern, PhD, CBSM, sleep health psychologist board certified in behavioral sleep medicine by the American Board of Sleep Medicine and Proper's Head Sleep Science Advisor