Aaaaah, sleep! There’s nothing quite as satisfying as crawling into bed after a long, tiring day. (Or night, if you’re a shift worker.) Unfortunately, falling into a restful sleep is an entirely different story.
If you’re light-sensitive, streetlights or the glare from your partner’s endless phone scrolling, spell doom. Just so you know, even the tiniest pinpricks of light can creep in through your closed eyelids.
Bummer, we know. This leads to hours of tossing and turning and waking up repeatedly.
This leaves you sleep-deprived and beat night after night. Sucks, right? But don’t resort to a breakup just yet (good luck calling it quits with your streetlights). Try a simple but effective solution: a sleep mask that blocks light.
Apart from being plain annoying, the link between light and poor sleep quality goes deeper than you might think.
Light impacts your 24-hour body clock (a.k.a circadian rhythm) in a big way. Exposure to light throws it off and signals your body that it isn’t time to sleep when it is.
Also, darkness signals your brain to start making melatonin, the hormone that primes your body for sleep. (Now you know why melatonin supplements exist.)
Shift workers have a harder time because they have to deal with the major light source, the sun. On top of this is the artificial light from gadgets and electrical sources at work.
Exposure to light makes it difficult to fall asleep causing sleep deprivation and at times, insomnia. It also disrupts your sleep, which impacts its quality.
So, do sleep masks work? Regardless of what time bedtime is, it prevents light from creeping in. And that’s why only the best light blocking eye mask will do. Plain and simple.
How to Choose the Best Light Blocking Eye Mask
By all means, nitpick when it comes to choosing your best light blocking eye mask. Remember that this is something you’ll be wearing on your face regularly. So be on the lookout for quality, form and function.
Here are a couple of tips to help you out:
Tip #1: Choose a sleep mask that promises total or near-blackout
For very obvious reasons, the one tip to rule them all! (And there aren’t many that do the job, to be honest.) A sleep mask’s main function is to block out light, so please don’t compromise.
Find one that offers near-black out at the very least. Though ideally, you want one that has 100% light-blocking super powers.
There’s one feature that’ll help out here. Hint: It's in the fourth tip, so keep going.
Tip #2 The best light blocking eye mask is made from comfortable, quality fabric
While it's tempting to snap up any old sleep mask out there, pay attention to its fabric. What you want is high-quality fabric. Think about it. This is going to be your (favorite) bed buddy most nights.
For instance, if you’re eyeing an eye mask made from silk, look at what kind. Mulberry silk is of the highest quality. It’s not about status. It’s about reaping the benefits only the best silk can give.
You’re also going to want a comfortable sleep mask made from breathable and soft fabric since it’ll act like a second layer of skin.
Another thing to watch out for is the head strap. Run-of-the-mill sleep masks have a single elastic strap, which stretches beyond recall sooner than later. Look for something that’s anti-stretch or has more than one elastic layer.
Tip #3 If you’re a side sleeper, pick a light blocking eye mask designed with that top-of-mind
We heard from a reliable source that an estimated 60% of adults sleep on their sides. Plus, this gets more common as you age and gain more body fat(1).
If you’re a side sleeper the last thing you want is extra bulk on the sides of your head. You also tend to move around a lot because you need to shift from left to right (or risk shoulder and hip pain).
Find a light blocking sleep mask that lays flat on the sides of your head and has enough grip so it doesn’t fall off when you shift sides.
Tip #4 Choose one that comes with eye cups
Okay, so you know how goggles work, right? That’s how eye cups work on a sleep mask. But instead of sealing out water, they block out light. Also, they’re wayyy more comfortable.
They’re also great if you suffer from dry eyes and super helpful if you have lagopthalmos, a condition where you can’t close your eyes all the way. Eye cups seal in moisture and protect your eyes from dust particles.
So what if you can’t stand any form of pressure on your eyes? Clueing you in right now: there are sleep masks with eye cups that offer zero eye pressure.
Tip #5 Go with a light blocking sleep mask that’s adjustable for a custom fit
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the shape of your head and face. That’s why it's important to choose an adjustable sleep mask.
An eye mask that’s a perfect fit means it’ll stay on your head keeping out unwanted light until it's time to take it off. Foam contoured sleep masks are one option.
Also, choose one with fasteners that don’t snag your hair. (Tip: If you’re conscious about your mane, a silk eye mask is your best bet.)
Tip #6 Listen to what others say before hitting that check-out button
A great light blocking sleep mask is an investment. So before you buy, make sure to check reviews. Whether it's online or word of mouth, opinions and experiences matter.
Top Light-blocking Sleep Masks: Your Options
To come up with a list of our best light blocking sleep masks, we took a look at what our customers had to say.
Best Starter Mask: Manta SLEEP Mask
What you get:
Adjustable head strap made from anti-stretch fabric
Infinitely adjustable foam eye cups
Zero eye pressure and sits above the ears
Soft and comfortable fabric
Great for first-time sleep mask users
What people have to say:
“First time buyer of any sleep mask and Manta will be the only one I ever buy. It is comfortable, adjustable and not one ray of light penetrates regardless of sleep position. Now I can leave my windows open at night and enjoy the nice breeze without any worthless shades that don't block light in the AM anyway. Great product, highly recommended by a no BS kind of guy…”
- Chris S.
"I love mine, I wish I had one of these years ago, best sleep mask I ever tried, and I have tried many! I sleep better, and nap better too. I am also surprised how even low ambient light from power lights or a clock can affect my sleep quality and this block out everything, bright light when the sun rises too, and no pressure on my eyes, I love everything about it!"
- Mac S.
“I never buy anything I see advertised on Instagram because I always assume the product will be a rip off, but I took a chance on the Manta Sleep mask because I was in desperate need for a good eye mask. For reference, I am a college student living in New York City, and I needed a product that would truly block out all the lights from the streets. I am extremely happy to say that this sleep mask was everything I hoped it to be and more. The quality of the materials feels great against my skin, but most importantly, not a single ray of light gets through this mask. It doesn't matter if I have the lights on in my room, once I put on this mask, I can't see anything, which is absolutely perfect! Thank you for creating such a wonderful product!”
- Charlie H.
“This mask it's amazing, it completely turns day into night. I use to sleep with a pillow over my face to block out the light. I would wake up 5+ times a night. Doctors thought it might have been oxygen deprivation. With the mask there's no need for the pillow and I am now getting a full night's sleep. This may be the best purchase I have made.”
Great for skin and haircare: Manta Sleep Mask SILK
What you get:
100% blocks out light
Made from 22 momme mulberry satin silk
Silk eye cups
Zero eye pressure
Hypo-allergenic fabric with anti-aging properties
Infinitely adjustable eye cups and head strap
Prevents sleep creases and wrinkles
100% machine-washable silk
Feels so darn good on your skin and hair
SILK fans have their say:
"This is the most comfortable sleep mask I've ever used. Super soft and completely blocks out all light, even if it's bright in the room. I literally use mine every night and it has been a life saver, since the light from a street light streams in through one of the upper windows in my living room and the bright ambient light was disrupting my sleep badly. Now I can finally sleep through the night."
- Kim S.
Best Eye Mask for Sleep!
“This is the best eye mask I have come across for sleep. It completely blacks out my vision so that I can sleep regardless of how much light there is. I love the silk cups because they do not dry out and irritate my skin like cotton or other materials. I ordered a replacement pair of cups because a dog I was watching chewed up the first pair. I'm glad that I can purchase replacement pieces separately."
- Kim S.
Exactly as advertised!
“I was a bit skeptical at first. These masks are expensive! But my boyfriend is an ER doctor who has to be able to sleep whenever as needed and swears by his (so do all his doctor friends who work nights) so I bought one. I love it. It totally blocks the light, stays on all night, and is extremely comfortable - I barely notice it! I have sensitive skin and the silk is great as my skin is very happy with it. Highly recommend buying one!"
- Kelly J.
“My sleep experience has been improved since making this purchase. I live in a very large and bright city and had trouble getting a good deep sleep at night due to the city lights from buildings, street lights, etc. My sleep mask blacks out all the lights and the silk material doesn’t irritate my skin.”
The Ultimate for Side Sleeping: Manta Sleep Mask PRO
Why you need it in your life:
100% true blackout
C-shaped eye cups for side-sleeping comfort
Cooling fabric with perforations for airflow
Adjustable eye cups with an air bubble seal
Infinitely adjustable and grippy head strap
Zero eye and ear pressure
Why they’re pro PRO:
One mask to rule them all!
“When I saw you were coming out with this mask, I could not wait. The problems I’ve had with other masks is light coming in, slippage, being too hot and side sleeping the cups were too chunky. This one hits all the boxes. You’ve really paid attention to the littlest details. I’ve been using it for a solid month. I’ve taken a couple day naps in there too. This thing is just perfect! Thanks.”
- Carol M.
Never sleep without it
“I’m sensitive to light when sleeping so I bought the original Manta. It was already awesome but I felt some pressure on the side of my head as I’m a side-sleeper. When the PRO was launched, I grabbed one and I never sleep without it on. So that makes awesome #2 👍👍"
- Christopher T.
“I love it. I haven't slept better in years because I have bright light coming through my bedroom windows and I couldn't afford blackout curtains. With this mask I sleep so much deeper and don't wake up at sunrise. It's also super comfortable, especially as a side-sleeper. I also like how it doesn't touch the nose when you wear it."
- Josh H.
Best sleep mask ever
“The manta mask makes such a huge difference in the quality of my sleep. The other night a light came on in the middle of the night when the power came back on (we're off-grid) and I didn't even know until I took off the mask. The blackout effect works that well. Sleep is so important and I struggle with it, but it's gotten better since getting the manta mask. I can't sleep without it now. I'm excited to try the new one they just came out with. Thanks so much! Amazing product. I recommend them to all my friends. I'm getting one for my friend for her birthday.”
What are the other benefits of light blocking sleep masks?
Sleeping with a light blocking eye mask has other benefits, too.
One of them is helping you stay longer in the REM sleep phase, according to studies(1). This phase stimulates the parts of your brain responsible for learning and memory.
Another is that a light blocking sleep mask is safe and non-addictive. Desperate for a decent night’s rest, many people resort to medication and run the risk of making it a habit.
Or they turn to booze, which is counterproductive to good sleep. You might fall asleep faster but you wake up more often at night, which leads to poor sleep quality. Not to mention takes its toll on other parts of your brain and body.
Depending on the fabric, your best light blocking eye mask protects the sensitive skin around your eyes. This is prone to sleep creases and wrinkles, especially if you’re a side sleeper.
And now, let there be no light! Time to block it all out and get the amazing sleep you deserve.
1. “What Your Sleep Position Means." Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org/sleeping-positions/meaning. Accessed 26 July 2022.
2. “Effects of earplugs and eye masks on nocturnal sleep, melatonin and cortisol in a simulated intensive care unit environment." National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2887188/. Accessed 26 July 2022.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website or provided through our blog, e-mails, or programs is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment that can be provided by your healthcare professionals.