Best Sleep Mask – Top 5 Out of 32 Tested – 2018 update

by | sleep aid

It took about 8 months to put this guide on best sleep mask together. We first started working on this guide back in 2016, and it was first published in early 2017. It has seen 6 bi-monthly updates since.

The results you are about to see are the fruit of over 4,400 work-hours, both testing the masks and statistical analysis of user satisfaction.

It did take a while, but we believe that we now have the most complete guide to choosing a good sleep eye mask based on your preference (sleeping position and purpose of use).

sweet slumber mask

Total of 38 masks tested and no “free products” received

The “raw” list included over 120 masks. It was narrowed down to 32 by two of our team members (Bob & Ivan, the former a Material technology engineer and the latter a sleep therapist). The products were then tested both by our featured testes and our staff (6 of us).

We want to make a special point that we did not receive any free products from any of the companies that could potentially cloud our objectivity.

The bottom line is that the picks & their ratings in 5 quality categories are objective, completely independent and regularly updated with new data to keep the information presented fresh. With that out of the way, let’s get to the results and analysis of specific products.

Best sleep masks – info and ratings of top 5

 
Model
 
Info
Rating
& quick links
sweet slumber mask isolated on white

Sweet Slumber

 
 

‣ Material: polythread fiber,
quilted-stitched
‣ Straps: adjustable
Label awarded:
best overall,
best for side-sleepers

 
 
 
9.28

Click here to skip to all ratings
alaska bear silk eye mask

Alaska Bear

 
 

‣ Material: silk
‣ Straps: adjustable
Label awarded:
overall runner-up,
top for combo-sleepers
(side, back & stomach)

 
 
 
9.15

Click here to skip to all ratings
nidra eye mask for travel

Nidra Luxury

 
 

‣ Material: molded foam
‣ Straps: adjustable
Label awarded:
best for travel

 
 
 
9.16

Click here to skip to all ratings
jersey slumber silk eye mask

Jersey Slumber
 

‣ Material: silk
‣ Straps: adjustable
Label awarded:
N/A

 
 
 
9.15

Click here to skip to all ratings
bedtime bliss contoured foam mask

Bedtime Bliss
Contoured

 
 

‣ Material: bamboo & cotton
‣ Straps: adjustable
Label awarded:
second best for travel

 
 
 
9.08

Click here to skip to all ratings

Best sleep mask for side sleepers & overall – Sweet Slumber

A good eye sleep mask does the job, but a great one does it seamlessly…in a way that will make you forget you’re wearing one. We have to confess that this is not our line, it’s a paraphrase that we saw when researching for this guide.

The part that we’d like to stress is the comfort ratings as per the side-sleepers among our testing crowd – 94/100. This came as a surprise because when it’s a “no-Velcro” mask. This means that the straps are regulated by straps and clasps (think swimming glasses).

sweet slumber mask for travel collage
woman sleeping with slumber sleep mask

The difference is that the placement and extra padding of the straps make it a non-issue (see the stats below).

With the thin natural silk used for the mask, we expected the clasps to be a problem for side sleepers in spite of the extra padding. We were wrong – 84 % of our side-sleeping testers reported that they “don’t even notice the clasps” and 10% that “they do feel the clasp but not the point of it being an issue.”

  • Light isolation 92%
  • Comfort 93%
  • Materials quality 95%
  • Side-sleeping 94%
  • Back-sleeping 91%
  • Value for money 92%

Who will choose the Sweet Slumber?

First things first – the Sweet Slumber is more expensive than most masks, and it might not be right for you if you are looking to save money when getting a mask. However, the difference in price fades compared to its superiority if you are a side sleeper.

About 2 months into testing we realized just how tricky choosing a good eye sleep mask for side sleepers is.

Here’s why:

To be a good choice for a side-sleeper the “body” of the mask can’t be too rigid (like contoured models based on foam). Side sleepers reported that these masks tend to move as they turn, which beats the purpose. From the budget and value “angle,” the good news here is that this eliminated some much more expensive contoured masks.

Majority of the masks that were thin and seamless put too much pressure on the eyes. The description of the issue ranged from “being too aware of the mask” to “so much pressure makes the mask unusable.”

Finally, the straps should be tight enough and designed in a way to keep the mask safely into place without being uncomfortable.

Within 4 months, one mask started emerging as the product that stroke the right balance – the Sweet Slumber.

Bottom lineThe Sweet Slumber is, hand down, the best sleep mask for side-sleepers and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. The gap in side-sleeping rating is too big…it was significant when we first published the guide, and it just got bigger since.

2nd best sleep mask overall and the top choice for back sleepers – the Alaska Bear (Natural Silk)

Update: This Alaska Bear model was somewhat changed since we first tested and reviewed it, so we had to re-test (an unscheduled test, we typically re-test products once every 18 months).

The main change was the body of the mask getting a bit smaller. That increased its ratings for side sleeping from 92 to 93, lowered the “Light isolation” rating from 92 to 91.

The ratings for back sleepers remained the same.

alaska bear sleep mask - voted best for back sleepers
  • Light isolation 91%
  • Comfort 92%
  • Materials quality 90%
  • Side-sleeping 93%
  • Back-sleeping 91%
  • Value for money 92%

Who will choose the Alaska Bear?

If you are a combo-sleeper (side and back) and if you’re looking to get a budget-friendly mask, this Alaska Bear might be right.

It might be worth mentioning that we found the Alaska Bear to be just as gentle to the skin as products that cost 3 or 4 times more.

It is THE most popular mask with thousands of user reviews on Amazon – you can see them below.

3rd top-rated overall and the best sleep mask for travel – Nidra Luxury Deep Rest

To be honest, we expected the Nidra to be one of our top picks for sleep because the light isolation is unparalleled – rated at 96/100.

But, it turned out that side sleepers found it a bit too rigid (which caused movement) and a significant % of back sleepers found the Velcro connections at the back to be too noticeable.

The two factors lowered Nidra’s ratings and put it below the ratings of the Sweet Slumber & Alaska Bear in 3 quality categories: Overall Comfort, Side-sleeping & Back-sleeping.

nidra sleep mask
  • Light isolation 96%
  • Comfort 91%
  • Materials quality 94%
  • Side-sleeping 88%
  • Back-sleeping 90%
  • Value for money 91%

Who will choose the Nidra?

Too many of our testers (18%) found the Nidra’s contoured shape to be an issue for side sleeping for us to recommend it for side sleepers. It also might not be right for you if you’re a hot sleeper because the “sealing” is so tight that it can get warm under it.

On the other hand, the issue for back sleepers is not as significant if your pillow is on the softer side and can nullify the connections at the back.

With all that said – Nidra is our top choice for travel and naps. For these purposes the two points above are moot.

Another point worth making is that the Comfort rating includes eye pressure as one of the components and its another quality aspect where Nidra excelled. The design practically removes all pressure from the eyes.

man wearing nidra mask on travel

Jersey Slumber – 2nd best sleep mask for side sleepers

Another sleep eye mask that seems to strike the right balance between materials, padding, light isolation and strap design is the Jersey Slumber.

Jersey Slumber mask is made using smooth silk on both sides, no Velcro on the back or sides of the head that would create pressures points. The slider that controls the size is just seamless enough not to be an issue for side sleepers and, since there is no connection in the back, it’s a good option for back sleepers.

The size of the mask itself is, according to our measurements, approximately 8.6 x 4.3 inches and 9/10 people didn’t even comment on the universal unisex size, which is always a good thing. No comments usually means that it wasn’t an issue.

jersey slumber sleep eye mask
jersey slumber mask with earplugs

Rigidity of the padding

This is a thin silk mask (both sides) and thin padding. What we’ve seen as the most common complaint with masks of this type is pressure exerted. The issue can range from it being slightly uncomfortable because it touches the eyelashes to the more “serious” complaints like direct pressure on the eyes.

This comes down to the balance between the tightness of the straps, the size range and the padding. It’s not something that can be precisely defined and the best we could do here is include a question about it in our questionnaire for the testers. Here are the results of that – 91% of people reported no eye-pressure issues, 6 % found it to be too tight and 3% reported that it’s too small and loose for a comfortable fit.

  • Light isolation 94%
  • Comfort 91%
  • Materials quality 94%
  • Side-sleeping 92%
  • Back-sleeping 86%
  • Value for money 92%

What’s important here is that we tried to find a correlation between the %s and for most of the people we did – it’s usually outliers in terms of head size. For about 1.7%, we couldn’t pinpoint the exact cause, so it’s probably the shape of the bones around the eyes.

The bottom line here is that 9/10 people did not find any issues with the sizing and eye pressure.

Bedtime Bliss – second best sleep mask for travel

The Bedtime Bliss is not close to the “side-sleeping” ratings of the best sleep masks for side sleepers but it is one of the most popular eye masks and our pick as the runner-up in the category of the best sleep masks for travel.

The reason for the former could be pinpointed to the contoured shape and hefty padding that is likely to move when you sleep on your side. In this scenario, a side-sleeper will find it uncomfortable because of the pressure on the nose and the light coming in through the “cracks” of the displaced masks.

It’s primarily designed for travel and back-sleepers. The wide straps make for better pressure distribution and the “molded” contoured shape blocks practically all the light.

eye sleep mask travel
bedtime bliss mask

Unisex, minimally designed

The minimal unisex design makes it one of the better options for men (especially the blue version). Women, on the other hand, liked the luxurious look of the purple and there were interviewees of both sexes who preferred the simple all-black (approximately 25% total).

We also found that “only” 17% of stomach-sleepers found them comfortable enough for stomach-sleeping. It’s the contoured combo of cotton and bamboo that will make them (in our opinion) uncomfortable for most people sleeping in the position.

  • Light isolation 95%
  • Comfort 87%
  • Materials quality 90%
  • Side-sleeping 85%
  • Back-sleeping 94%
  • Value for money 94%

Bottom line – a solid value for money option for back-sleepers and travelers of both sexes with a high light isolation rating (94/100).

It’s also worth mentioning that this Bedtime Bliss eye mask is one of the most popular products with over 10,000 user reviews on Amazon. You can see them all by following the links below.

Manta sleep mask (modular)

Manta sleep mask is described by the company as “modular.” It refers to the fact that it’s somewhat more intricate design aimed at adjusting to the face of the user.

We have to admit that we didn’t expect Manta eye mask to find it’s way to the TOP 10 and it’s fair to say that we were probably led by the prejudice of our experience with masks with (re) movable parts. The Manta did receive ratings that are close to some of the best models out there and what kept it from climbing higher is the ratings of “value for money.”

To put it differently – we found it comfortable going to bed or at the beginning of travel but we also see the movable parts as an issue for long-term comfort. The count of those experiences (in-house and our featured testers) was few too many to justify the higher price tag of the Manta mask.

manta eye mask for travel and sleep modular
man travelling with manta mask

What “modular” means

Let’s take a moment to explain what Manta (the company) means when they say “modular” and adjustable.

The first thing that stands out are the velcroed eye “patches” that can be moved to adjust to the shape of your head and the distance between your eyes and forehead bones above the eyes.

It’s a nice idea but we found it to be more marketing-oriented than a substantial advantage over one-piece masks.

  • Light isolation 95%
  • Comfort 92%
  • Materials quality 92%
  • Side-sleeping 92%
  • Back-sleeping 90%
  • Value for money 90%

Bottom line – we like the Manta mask but, to be honest, if it were us we wouldn’t pay double or three times as much for it (compared to some of the other products on this list).

Earth Therapeutics

This classic from Earth Therapeutics has been in the 10 top-rated masks since we first published the guide and reviewed the sleep mask.

To put that into perspective, along with the Alaskan Bear, Earth Therapeutics is the only brand that had a “representative in the Top 10 at all times since we first published the guide. In the case of Earth Therapeutics, it was this mask.

At the moment, this Earth Therapeutics costs slightly more than most products listed here – hence the slightly lowered rating in the “value for money” category.

Earth Therapeutics blue mask
  • Light isolation 91%
  • Comfort 90%
  • Materials quality 92%
  • Side-sleeping 91%
  • Back-sleeping 88%
  • Value for money 87%

Holly Golightly sleep mask

Inspired by the movie Breakfast At Tiffany’s – the most stylish lady mask

Since publication, the guide on best sleep masks for side, back and stomach sleepers has seen dozens of updates. We included this product because we received dozens of emails asking us to recommend an eye mask with the design of the now famous mask worn by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

What we did is look at what’s available out there and separated the wheat from the chaff.

holy golightly sleep mask
audrey hepburn wearing holy golightly mask in breakfast at tiffanys

So let us be clear – Holly Golightly is not a brand, it’s a specific design. There are dozens of brands that make the Holly Golightly sleep mask but the one that stood out in terms of quality is the handmade mask by “The Sleepy Cottage.”

The bottom line is that this product is more of an honorary mention (as you’ll see in the ratings) than an actual contender. But, among the Holly Golightly masks, our choice is The Sleepy Cottage. This cute sleep mask is also labeled as “most stylish.”

Besides Holly Golightly, you might this style described as “Breakfast At Tiffany’s Sleep Mask.” Don’t get confused by the wording; there is no official product, it’s all separate brands.

Reference info

Whether you are sleeping at home or on the road, unwanted light may disrupt your sleeping habits. Your body reacts to bright artificial light the same way it reacts to sunshine – it tries to keep itself awake. Any light stronger than 180 Lux will reset your circadian rhythm

One of the simplest and yet effective ways to block that unwanted light would be to try the sleep mask. And the best thing is that your body will still be able to produce Melatonin, a hormone that helps your body to fall asleep naturally, and let your brain goes through all stages of the sleeping cycle. In spite of the fact that it’s natural substance, it’s still a hormone and you can take too much of it and see side effects – you can see our guide on Melatonin overdose here.

Should You an eye mask?

Before exploring any other means of combating insomnia or simply pursuing a better night of sleep, you’ll probably want to explore the environmental factors and the role they play in your habits.

So, it’s a lane that might be worth pursuing, whether on its own of combined with other less “aggressive” means of getting a better nights sleep. Combined with good sleep earplugs, a mask can offer as isolating experience as possible.

Some PROs:

  • less aggressive than any other sleep enhancing measures (like supplementation)
  • readily available & reasonable priced
  • you can also order them online
  • easy to use and travel-friendly

The main downside users tend to report is their head and eyes being pressured and hair issues, especially with female users. That’s one the factors we looked at when we compiled the list of top masks. This quality aspect comes down to balance between the strength of the straps, their width and the way how much of this pressure is “relieved” by the shape of the mask itself.

Can You Use It if You Are a Side-sleeper?

If you are a side-sleeper, you may wonder if you will be able to sleep with one of these sleeping products on your face… and the answer is – yes, you will! You should choose the one that is flexible, and not the one that digs into your face. Most side-sleepers prefer a more streamlined mask profile so that it does not move that easily during the night.

What to Look for When Choosing?

When they think of choosing the best sleep mask, most people think of the one they had gotten when they were on an international flight, or of the stylish one you can see in some ads or magazines. But, today, there are so many different varieties to choose from. Yes, you can still describe them as a strip of fabric that covers your eyes, but special features make them more wearable and effective.

These are some key features to look for when searching for the right one:

Fabric (soft and breathable): There is a wide variety of materials to choose from. Silk, satin, polyester, cotton, bamboo, and some of them are even embedded with copper. Since it is going to be directly on your face, you should choose a soft and breathable material. If your skin easily gets irritated by certain materials and fabrics, you should pay some special attention to it.When it comes to flat ones, pure silk will probably be the best option, especially during hot summer nights. And if you are using the one with cavities, it should still be soft and light, but also firm enough for the cups to stay elevated during the sleep.

Strap (adjustable): To fit heads of all sizes and shapes, the strap should be adjustable. It usually adjusts via Velcro or a buckle. If you have a long hair, choose the one with buckled straps – they will not tangle in your hair.

Cavities (yes or no?): Cavities are recesses in a place where your eyes will be. That way your eyes, as well as your eyelashes, will not touch the material of the mask. You can open your eyes and just stare into the darkness. Many people find it soothing that their eyelids are gently pressed by a sleep mask, while others might find it irritating.

If you are among the ones who are irritated if anything touches their eyes, opt for the mask with cavities.But keep in mind that if you are sleeping on your stomach, you might not find it as comfortable as you would if you are sitting on a plane or a bus.

Weight (light): The lighter, the better. When wearing a sleep eye mask, you should have a feeling that you do not wear any at all. Try to find the one that weighs no more than 1½ ounces.

Maintenance (durable and machine washable): If you wear it often, you will definitely want to be able to wash it from time to time.

There are also some less important features, but you should think about them, too:

Noise reduction: Some masks are wide enough to cover your ears, but if you really want to block out the noise, you should choose a pair of sleep earplugs.

Scents: Since not everyone will like the same scent, you should try it and see if it works for you. But only if you are not prone to allergies.

A flat nose cutout or a molded nose bridge: You will find a flat nose cutout on all typical masks that are designed to fit almost anyone. But, there are also some with a molded nose bridge, designed to block out the light that may come from the bottom of the mask.

If you have a wider nose or you are missing a bridge, they are not the right option for you.

Gel masks: You can try them if you are having problems with puffy eyes. You can either place them in a fridge or warm water, depending on whether you want a cold or warm therapy.

How to Clean It Properly?

After wearing your mask, you should hand wash it with mild soap and water, to remove facial oils. Avoid using harsh cleansers that might damage it or leave some harmful residues. Also, you should always let it dry away from the direct sunlight. More detail information can be found in the user guide that always comes included.

It is also important that you know when you should replace it.

These are some indications that might help you when making this decision:

  • you have to tighten the strap very often
  • the cushion seems slippery even if you wash it

Future updates

The information about the best sleep mask in a range of quality categories is updated on quarterly basis. The statistical analysis of newly available data is planned to keep the information relevant between re-tests (which are done once a year or once every 18-months).

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us by leaving a comment in the section below. You can expect a response within 24 hours. If we don’t know the answer to your question, we’ll find out and get back to you within.

Stay smart and sleep well,

The Sleep Studies team