The Best Sleep Masks of 2020
The Manta Sleep Mask offers a neat solution to fit customization with eyecups that detach and reattach via velcro. The strap is also entirely adjustable, low profile, and lined with soft cotton and polyester. The velcro is snag-free — a bonus for those with long hair, like our lead tester. We measured the circumference to range from around 18.5 to 24.5 inches (unstretched), meaning that it should fit most head sizes. The entire mask is cozy, straightforward in its design purpose, and sewn together with quality stitching. The elastic portion of the strap is thicker than average which should increase the longevity of its stretchiness. The best quality overall is its ability to create a full blackout. The eyecups are also relatively deep and blinking is easy. We hardly notice our eyelashes touching, but that will depend on how long your eyelashes are. Lastly, the design stays put on our heads well and doesn't change in feel as much as some of the other masks we tested when rolling side to side.
During our LED flashlight test, the Manta ranked as the best, although we were able to pick up on subtle differences in pure darkness vs red-tinged darkness influenced by the flashlight. That is to say, it's possible for light to find its way in, but in more realistic, everyday environments such as midday sunlight or even tungsten light in a bedroom, creating a blackout is entirely achievable. The customization might take trial and error for some, especially if you have a smaller face. Too, the relative bulk of the mask is far greater than what is traditional and might not be as appealing for minimalist travel. Nonetheless, the mask is still easily packed into the mesh bag it comes with (which is also to contain your mask for machine washing). Overall, this mask is a tough competitor with high comfort, effectiveness, design features, and versatility, and the one we expect to perform best for the most people.
The MZOO Sleep Eye Mask is well-made and is easily adjustable via a sliding buckle. The strap is wide and yet soft enough to barely notice. The mask itself is made from memory foam and covered in what we assume is polyester, creating a very comfortable mask that our testers resoundingly enjoyed. We are able to wear the mask all night and roll around from side to side without much fuss. It's lightweight and cozy against our faces, especially since the memory foam helps contour to the shape of your face to mitigate pressure points. We measured the circumference to range from about 18 to 26 inches, which is quite accommodating to many head sizes.
While the contours for the eyes are a nice touch, our eyelashes do brush the mask still due to the space not being very deep. We aren't particularly sensitive to this, but we understand that someone people might be. The biggest drawback has to do with light leakage. When we're already in low light, the mask works just fine in simulating a blackout. However, with full midday sun and especially during our LED flashlight test, we had a lot of light coming in around the nose. We recognize, however, that the nose of our lead tester in on the small/narrow side, so this might not be as much of an issue for those with larger faces. Regardless, we feel the fit around the nose area could use some rethinking as the memory foam prevents us from pressing down to flatten/shape the material more against our faces. But overall, the outstanding comfort and ease of use are high with this product and we find that it is best used for sleeping or napping in low light environments. If memory foam is your jam, this is your mask.
The Nidra Deep Rest is a basic model at a low price, but still offers contoured eye covers for some of the best comfort of all models tested. Notably the lightest mask of the bunch, it's made with 100% polyester interlock fabric and a thin foam insert. There is a small snag-free velcro patch on the elastic strap, which seems to imply that the strap isn't meant to be adjusted. We measured the unstretched circumference to be around 20.5 inches. When it fits, it does its job well.
In our experience, testers with smaller faces had more of a struggle with this mask staying in place. Light tends to leak in by the nose and eventually everywhere if you move around a lot, but this problem is common among masks we've used. The velcro can be adjusted slightly by misaligning the velcro surface areas, but this adds or subtracts only an inch or so. If you attach the velcro to any of the other parts of the strap, then it begins to pull apart the fabric. But overall, the ultralight fabric is very comfortable and we love the deep contours for maximum eyelash room. Best for those wishing to spend the least and get the most, we feel the Nidra offers just enough mask for the buck.
The Alaska Bear Natural Silk mask is simple. With a silk body and adjustable elastic strap with a plastic adjuster, there really isn't much else going on — but that is certainly in line with the sleep mask tradition. Fundamental, effective, and silky soft. It's somewhat easy to move the mask around on your face to find a sweet spot for blocking out light, which is ideal for naps and general relaxation. We measured the unstretched circumference to range from approximately 18 to 26.5 inches, which is the largest give of all the masks we recently tested. At the time of this review, this mask also comes in 22 different colors and patterns, but it only comes in one size. Being lightweight and compact, this model can slip into the tightest carry-ons and even back pockets.
Since the mask is flat and has one strap, light pressure is expectedly placed over the eyes. Some people may like this for brief relaxation, but it's definitely not for everyone. Our lead tester's eyelashes felt irritated from being pressed, even if the pressure was mitigated by loosening the strap. The strap itself isn't the most comfortable for the tops of our ears, but this might change depending on your head shape. For people with smaller faces and narrow noses, we also notice light leaking by the nose, which requires fiddling with the mask to find the best balance of comfort and effectiveness. Overall, the lightweight and soft feel makes this a great travel item, short nap aid, or work break relaxation tool, all at a low price.
The Gravity Weighted Sleep Mask is designed to mimic the effects of the popular gravity blanket but for the face. The mask weighs a hefty 15 ounces, yet the silica beads inside are meant to distribute the weight evenly across the forehead, eyes, and temples. We measured the unstretched circumference to range from approximately 20 to 23 inches. With a soft fleece cover, the mask is definitely cozy and very relaxing for short periods of time, plus blocks out the light really well in addition to forcing your eyes closed.
Moving the beads around for optimal comfort isn't as easy as we would like and the weight is easily tipped when you move your head. We feel that this restricts use to when we are laying only on our backs. The velcro strap also snags our hair and isn't the easiest to pull apart, which means we have to guess at the size before putting it over your head. The weight of the mask is also significant enough to restrict air through your nose, requiring us to breathe through our mouths, which is not how we prefer to sleep. Moving the mask up to prevent this then allows light to begin to come through by the nose, so it's a tricky balance. Nonetheless, weighted masks are often used less for napping and more for still meditation, and for this purpose, it's great. We enjoy using it for meditation, general relaxation, and to let the eyes calm down after lots of computer time.
The IMAK Compression Eye Pillow is a unique and minimalistic take on the weighted mask. It's smaller and weighs 6.5 ounces. The cotton blend offers moderate comfort and the single elastic strap is thin and nonadjustable. We measured the circumference to be about 19 inches when unstretched (it does stretch quite a bit). For freezer use, instructions state to place in a freezer-safe bag and leave in the freezer for at least an hour. We ended up leaving it in the freezer overnight, and the result is very refreshing, especially after being out in the hot sun. After about 20 minutes, the initial cooling power dropped significantly, but it took a little over 30 minutes for the whole mask to return to room temperature (it's also neat that you can use both sides of the mask).
Material-wise, the mask picks up lint really easily, and since the strap isn't adjustable, smaller and larger heads might find issue with the fit. Also, the way the middle of the mask is stitched lets light in relatively easily, especially during the LED flashlight test (it was nearly see-through). It is ideal for back sleepers because when we roll onto our sides, the beads collect and create uncomfortable pressure points on the temples. Too, the mask is heavy enough to slowly become uncomfortable after long periods of time (like us trying to fall asleep). One tester made a good point, stating that for her, weighted masks are a great tool for sleep prep, but not for the sleep itself. Overall, this mask offers decent comfort, average light-blocking ability, and some versatility. We think it is best used for intentional relief, cold therapy, and focused relaxation.
The Jersey Slumber Silk mask is as basic as they come. Smooth silk and a single elastic strap, the product is lightweight and adjusts without fuss. The larger surface area of the mask helps mitigate light and we find it to stay on pretty well. Very similar to other silk masks, this one is notable for its sleek and minimal design. We measured the circumference to range from 16.5 to 23.5 inches, unstretched. This model only comes in black and in one size.
The main drawbacks have to do with light leakage at the nose and how the design focuses the pressure over the eyes. This is either a huge pro or a major con, but it seems like most people are likely to find it more bothersome than comfortable for overnight use. The strap also isn't the most comfortable as it rests over the ears. Durability seems delicate overall and there are also many comments online questioning whether the material is even real silk. Still, we feel that for such a low price, we feel this product is fine for brief naps or rest at home or while traveling.
The Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask is fairly simple but has a piece of carbon steel wire for adjustment over the nose. The thin elastic strap is adjustable and we measured the unstretched circumference to range from 17 to 23 inches. The cotton fabric is soft and this model comes in two different colors (at the time of this review). The stitching and overall construction seem durable and well-made. Due to the relative warmth of the cotton, we think it'd be better for colder months. We also appreciate the strap attachment design, which helps alleviate pressure over the eyes by redirecting pull to the top and bottom of the mask in a way that feels even.
As compared to the other masks we tested, the strap adjustment isn't as fuss-free and the overall comfort is only average. Too, the function of the mask is questionable. The nose piece, while a good idea, doesn't seem to perform in the way it is designed. The mask is on the smaller side, which isn't great for people with larger heads, but nonetheless, during our tests, we constantly found huge gaps around the nose for light to leak in when worn by small faces, making us wonder whose face this model really fits. Pinching the wire only makes the mask uncomfortable around the nose. But we were able to find a balance eventually, which required pulling the mask down over the nose and pinching the wire in a way that kept airflow open for the nostrils themselves. Still, it's tough to say what head size is actually ideal for this type of mask. Thus, we feel this model is best used for already dark situations and for people that want a warmer, cotton alternative.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our lead tester, Sara Aranda, is a lover of sleep, taking naps, and resting as much as possible between work and exercise. With a detail-oriented mind and a background in writing, she brings a much-appreciated critical eye. We also passed them around partners and friends to get a wide audience's opinions on how each mask fits varying head shapes and sizes. During our testing, we slept with each mask and wore them during the day to attain a general feel of function and comfort. For more technical testing, we used an LED flashlight to determine whether or not claims of "blackout" hold up under scrutiny. We also tried to encompass a variety of sleeping styles during the overnight and nap-related tests, from back to side to stomach. We critiqued the fit and nature of the straps, the overall ease of use, and the seeming durability of the design and materials used. In the end, we ranked and determined the best use for each one based on their results from our test period.
Analysis and Test Results
In the vast world of sleep masks, there seem to be two main groups of users: those who want intentional pressure on the eyes/face and those who don't. So, depending on what part of the spectrum of pressure vs. no pressure you reside on, the comfort, fit, and therefore, effectiveness is going to be perceived differently. Plus, with how uniquely shaped everyone's faces are, designing a one-size-fits-all mask is difficult, let alone writing a review to provide a one-size-fits-all answer. So, we created scoring metrics to observe and compare each model on an objective level so that you can focus on what performance areas that are key to your personal preferences. We do our best to keep the reality of our own preferences and face-shapes in mind as we assess and critique.
We feel this metric is one of the most important. In order for a mask to function, it obviously has to feel good and fit well to allow for optimal sleep and rest. But we also recognize that our lead tester has a preference for no pressure on her eyes, so we sought feedback from someone who does like such pressure to better conceptualize this metric. We also consider the strap adjustability in this assessment, as it relates to fit, and how well the mask stays put when rolling onto our sides or stomach.
The masks with high comfort included the Manta,MZOO, and the Nidra. All three are constructed with soft fabrics, provide room for the eyes, and generally fit our faces the best. For those that prefer light pressure on their eyes as they drift off to sleep, the Alaska Bear silk mask is a great choice. The Mavogel Cotton and both weighted masks, Gravity and IMAK, fell in the middle of the comfort spectrum. They all yielded slightly above average comfort due to the nature of more complicated fits and their varying distributions of pressure on the face. The mask that didn't yield high comfort marks is the Jersey Slumber, which, despite its silk construction, couldn't compete with the others. Overall, we prioritized the comfort for overnight use over that of napping or brief use, as we feel that sleep is the prime reason for this category and these products to exist.
This is where we assessed the more practical function of each mask during our tests. Based on the overall design and manufacturer claims, we noted light leaks and issues with masks staying on properly. Fit, as it does with comfort, also plays a big role in this metric, as effectiveness is greatly diminished if the wearer can't customize the mask to their specific head size and shape. Essentially, we compare the design intention of each product with the real-life performances we experienced. For general testing, we made sure to use each one during the day and at night.
With the ability to block out light as the top priority, we also used an LED flashlight to put the masks through the ultimate test. We moved the flashlight in circles around our heads and took notes on how each one did. All said and done, we found that zero of the masks provided 100% blackout. We interpret 100% as being in a pitch-black cave, and unfortunately, even the best had some subtle weaknesses. Thus, the top two were the Manta and Gravity masks. Both are easily adjustable to mitigate light nearly perfectly, but we were still able to tell there was a flashlight circling around our heads. Many of the others did okay, with light leaking about the nose as the most common fault. The model that failed, in our opinion, was the Mavogel Cotton mask due to its wire-nose design, which is more bothersome than effective.
With so many options to choose from and with so many "added perks," we take a different look at the design, style, and any key features the manufacturers boast about. These models embody a wide range of styles from the traditionally minimal to more novel interpretations and targeted uses (like weighted masks for headache/stress relief). The Manta sleep mask, as mentioned previously, is the most adjustable due to its unique, removable eyecups. We applaud the overall design, and the styling isn't bad either. The product also comes with earplugs and a zippered mesh bag for storage and for washing. One of the best perks of this mask, in our opinion, is the use of snag-free velcro (if you have long hair, we're sure you know what a nuisance standard velcro can be). The MZOO sleep mask is notable due to its 3D memory foam design, with deeper insets to accommodate long eyelashes. It also comes in 3 different colors (at the time of this review). The Nidra has a contoured design for the eyes, which is quite deep too, and the material is incredibly lightweight.
We appreciate the therapeutic qualities of the weighted masks. The Gravity is cozier and much heavier than the IMAK, which is notable for its freezer-safe quality. Both aren't the best for sleeping, however, but they receive great marks for their more specialized uses like meditation and cooling relaxation. Both silk masks and the Mavogel sit at the bottom of this metric due to their relatively minimalistic nature. Beyond their soft fabrics, there isn't much else going on in terms of extra perks or novel design.
Most of the masks are made from synthetic materials, such as polyester, or from cotton blends, and have elastic straps with either velcro or metal/plastic slides. For this metric, we consider the material integrity and whether or not durability is a foreseeable issue. The most well-made masks in our opinion are the Manta, MZOO, and Mavogel ones. Durability is likely to be long-term with these masks. Their overall construction feels and looks more industrial and we can tell the materials and stitching are high quality.
The Nidra mask is so lightweight that we do question the longterm durability. The edges of the mask are very thin and fray easily. Too, the stitching around the velcro looks like it'll pull away from the elastic strap after a while. The two silks masks, the Alaska and Jersey Slumber, seem a lot more delicate. Silk is inherently not the most durable fabric to use, which is why silk is associated with more luxury items. We can feel these masks catch slightly just from brushing our rough hands across them (there are concerns on the internet whether the silk is actually real). Where the straps attach, the stitching doesn't appear to be particularly reinforced either. For these reasons, they rank at the bottom for this metric.
Ideally, sleep masks should be lightweight and functional enough to be used in a variety of scenarios and circumstances. Planes, naps, relaxation, and of course, sleep (hopefully for all types of sleepers). This is where all the previous metrics boil down to whether or not we feel a certain design is too specialized or too simple to be used in such numerous ways. But at the same time, we recognize that this isn't a make or break quality.
The most notable masks in this metric are the two that best represent opposite ends of the sleep mask spectrum; the Manta and the Alaska Bear. The former is bulkier and less traditional but is so great with blocking out the light that versatile use is high. The latter is a quintessential mask with its straightforward, slim, and lightweight design. It'll pack all the more easily and the style is also less likely to stand out in public spaces. On the other hand, the Gravity mask is the most specialized in our opinion and the least versatile, while still being. Some online accounts report this mask being confiscated by the TSA due to its silica beads, but we did not fly with this model during our test period and cannot confirm this.
With so many varying styles and performance qualities to think about, we believe a sleep mask only serves you best when it fits you and your needs best. We hope that adding our assessments with your own likes and dislikes will help you find the right model to elevate your moments of relaxation, naps, and general sleep.
— Sara Aranda