There are a plethora of products you can invest in for a better night’s sleep, like weighted blankets and stuffed animals, the right pillow, highly-rated sheets and more. But if you’re often kept awake (or woken up) by light, you may want to consider a sleep mask. They’re designed to create a pitch black sleeping environment regardless of where you are or the time of day, which helps your body produce melatonin and fall into a deeper slumber, according to the Sleep Foundation.
With daylight saving time ending, investing in sleep aids to help you get quality rest may be even more top of mind. So, we spoke to experts about how sleep masks benefit the sleep-wake cycle. We also used expert guidance to round up top-rated sleep masks, as well as experts’ own recommendations and Select staff favorites.
Top-rated sleep masks to shop in 2022
When shopping for a sleep mask, silk and sateen are good materials to look for if you have sensitive skin — experts said these textiles tend to be less irritating. Experts also recommended padded masks, noting that they more comfortably protect the eyes. Above all, however, it’s crucial that you’re able to wash your sleep mask since it comes into contact with your skin for long periods of time. After a few wears, masks soak up oil and dirt from your skin, which you’ll want to remove. With this in mind, we only included sleep masks below that can either be machine-washed or washed by hand.
Dr. Seema Khosla, medical director at the North Dakota Center for Sleep, recommended this face mask, noting that it has memory foam padding around the eyes for comfort and breathability. The adjustable mask is secured around your head using an elastic strap, which is less likely to get caught in your hair or disrupt your sleep than a Velcro one, experts said. The masks must be hand-washed. It comes in packs of three assorted colors including red, purple, blue, black and more.
If you’re looking for a padded, silk eye mask, this one from Lunya is a great option. It’s machine-washable, according to the brand, and its wide headband wraps around your ears to keep both light and noise out. You can purchase the sleep mask in five colors like Deep Blue, Meditative Grey, Otium Tan and more, as well as a limited-edition Morana Crimson shade.
Hibermate Sleep Mask (currently sold out)
Khosla recommended the Hibermate Sleep Mask for light sleepers since it blocks out light and sound with integrated, removable ear muffs. The mask is machine-washable and fits to your head with adjustable elastic bands, Hibermate says. It’s only available in black.
Former Select writer Ambar Pardilla bought the Slip Pure Silk Sleep Mask after several bouts of insomnia. After a few nights of using it, she was “snoozing within minutes of sliding the mask on.” The mask, which is made from machine-washable silk, stays put with an elastic band. Slip says the silk mask won’t mess with your nighttime creams and facial products, nor will it put pressure on the area around your eyes. You can purchase the Slip sleep mask in 11 colors, including gold, white, pink and more.
While this mask doesn't have reviews available on the brand’s website, it comes highly recommended by Leah Ginsberg, Select’s managing director. She said she’s “obsessed” with Neero & Ana’s satin pillowcases — “I swear they’re like heaven on facial skin.” Since the skin around her eyes is sensitive, she invested in the eye mask from the brand, which is made from the same machine-washable material. The eye mask has a wide elastic band to keep it in place around your head and it comes in six colors like pure black, barely beige, ocean mist and more.
Ginsberg also recommends this sleep mask. She said it’s soft against her eyes and comfortable to sleep with because it’s not too structured. The eye mask is made with thick fabric, which Ginsberg said “does a good job of blocking out light.” It has an adjustable elastic strap that the brand says fits heads measuring between 19 and 28 inches around. The sleep mask comes with a carrying bag and you can purchase it in black and gray. While the brand recommends hand-washing this mask, Ginsberg said she cleans it in the washing machine. You can purchase the sleep mask individually or in a set of two.
Brooklinen — which makes some of our favorite bed sheets — offers a breathable, machine-washable and lightweight eye mask. It’s designed with a silk-covered elastic band and comes in four of the brand’s “essentials” colors — ivory, carbon, blush and celestial — as well as six limited-edition shades like wild peach and purple, cool mint and more.
Drowsy’s adjustable sleep mask wraps around your head and ears to create a quiet, dark sleeping environment, the brand says. The silk mask can be hand-washed and it has a cushioned inner layer to provide extra padding around the eyes. You can purchase the mask in 13 colors like midnight blue, sunset pink, green sapphire and more.
While Tempur-Pedic is known for its mattresses (like one of our favorite soft models), it also offers sleep accessories like this eye mask. The mask is made with TEMPUR memory foam material, which the brand says contours to your face. It also has an adjustable elastic strap with a Velcro closure. You can hand wash the navy mask.
The Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask is easily adjustable to fit your face, according to the brand. Using the buckles on the elastic strap, you can make the strap anywhere from 19 to 29 inches. Mavogel says the mask itself is made up of five layers to pad the eyes and keep light out, and the design includes a nose panel to block out light that might filter in from the bottom of the mask.
How to shop for a sleep mask
When choosing a sleep mask, “comfort is key,” said Dr. Christopher Winter, a neurologist and author of “The Sleep Solution.” He said that you want to look for a mask that’s tight enough to fit properly but “does not create discomfort as the night progresses.” Here are some other factors you should consider while shopping:
Silk and sateen are good materials to look for in a face mask because they tend to be less irritating for sensitive skin, as experts previously told us in our guide to the best bedding for your skin. Experts also noted that padding — especially around the bridge of the nose — ensures a comfortable and secure fit. Some prefer masks with a cupped shape around the eyes since they “do not put pressure on the eyeballs,” Winter added.
Some sleep masks come with adjustable Velcro straps, which makes it easier to fit the mask comfortably around the head. However, Khosla warned that if you have longer hair, it can get stuck in these Velcro straps. If you are a back sleeper, masks with ties or elastics in the back can also be disagreeable since they “create an uncomfortable lump.”
Since sleep masks rest on your skin for several hours a night, it’s preferable to buy one that’s machine-washable. “There’s no way I would wear a sleep mask that wasn’t able to be laundered,” Khosla noted.
How you wash a sleep mask depends on what material it's made from. Brands often include cleaning instructions on the packaging the sleep mask comes in or on their website.
Sleep mask benefits
Sleep masks are designed to keep light out of your eyes at night and into the early morning as the sun rises. This is “a proven way to improve sleep quality and amount,” said Winter. Virtually any bedroom can be exposed to either artificial or natural light if it has windows, which means sleep masks can be a useful sleep tool for almost everyone, experts said. However, Khosla noted that some people might benefit from a sleep mask more than others due to their circumstances, like shift workers who sleep during the day and individuals whose spouses watch TV while they’re trying to go to bed.