Best Sleep Mask of 2021
The Manta Sleep Mask offers a unique fit customization solution with detachable velcro eyecups. The strap is also easily adjustable, low profile, and lined with soft cotton and polyester. The velcro is snag-free — a bonus for those with long hair. 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, and sewn together with quality stitching. The elastic portion of the strap is thicker than average, which should increase the longevity of its stretchiness. Its best quality overall is its ability to achieve nearly a full blackout. The eyecups are deep, making it easy to blink our eyes. We hardly noticed our eyelashes touching the mask, but this will depend on the length of your eyelashes. Lastly, the mask stays put and on our heads really well and doesn't change in feel as much as some of the others 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, a small amount of light can find its way in, but in more realistic, everyday environments such as midday sunlight or even tungsten light in a bedroom, creating near blackout is 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 higher than what is traditional and might not be as appealing for minimalist travel. Nonetheless, it can still be easily packed into the mesh bag it comes with (which also holds the mask for machine washing). In summary, we feel this mask provides high comfort, high effectiveness, and offers a sense of versatility we think will please 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 it. The mask itself is made from memory foam and covered in what we assume is polyester, creating comfort that our testers resoundingly enjoyed. We can wear the mask all night and roll around from side to side without much fuss. It's lightweight and soft against our faces, especially since the memory foam contours with the shape of the 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 still brush the mask due to the space not being very deep. We aren't particularly sensitive to this, but we understand that some 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 our lead tester's nose is on the small/narrow side, so this might not be as much of an issue for everyone. 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 around the nose. But overall, the outstanding comfort and ease of use are high with this product, and we find that its best use is for sleeping or napping in low light environments. If you prefer the feel of memory foam, then this is the mask for you.
We think the LKY DIGITAL 3D Contoured mask establishes a unique niche between the ultra-thin traveling mask and the thicker foam designs. For us it is very comfortable and stays on all night, even when sleeping on our side. The compact design makes it easy to pack and stash away. The foam isn't bulky and contours nicely with the shapes of our faces, allowing for a more sealed fit and, therefore, darker conditions. With a sliding buckle on the strap, the circumference ranges from about 19 to 26 inches. At the time of this review, we received three different colored masks for an incredible price and we really appreciate this. Three for the price of one meant that we could keep one stashed in the bedroom, one near the couch, and one in our go-to carry-on luggage. There isn't a bag or case included but caring for the mask is easily done.
We really do find the blackout ability to be quite high, but during our testing experience, there were small light leaks around the nose. Adjusting for this is easy, but as soon as we flex any muscles on our face, the mask moves upward, revealing light again. This can be a nuisance for daytime napping, but even then, once we close our eyes, we can't even tell. Another point of contention is the strap. While very adjustable, it isn't the most comfortable over the ears. It's possible to wear the mask with the strap going above and behind the ears, but this may not be as intuitive depending on the shape of your head and personal preference. In the end, we find the LKY DIGITAL to be a steal of a deal, especially if you want to stash them in a few different places.
The Nidra Deep Rest is a basic model at a low price, but still offers contoured eye covers for the best comfort of all the models that we tested. Notably one of the lightest masks 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 it isn't meant to be adjusted. We measured the unstretched circumference to be around 20.5 inches. When it fits properly, it does its job well.
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. The velcro can be adjusted slightly by misaligning it, 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. Overall, the ultralight fabric is quite comfortable and we love the deep contours for maximum eyelash room. Ideal for ultralight travel and for those wishing to spend the least for more-than-fair quality, we feel the Nidra offers the top comfort for its price point.
The Alaska Bear Natural Silk mask is reliably simple. With a silk body, adjustable elastic strap, and plastic adjuster, there isn't much else going on — but that is certainly in line with the sleep mask tradition: simple, 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 most substantial out of all the masks we recently tested. At the time of this review, the mask also comes in 22 different colors and patterns, but only in one size. Being lightweight and compact, this model can slip into pretty much into anything, be it a stuffed carry-on or your back pocket.
Since the mask is flat and has one strap, it places light pressure over the eyes. Some people may like this for brief relaxation, but it's not for everyone. Our lead tester's eyelashes felt irritated from being pressed, even if the pressure can be 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 have also noticed light leaking near the nose, which requires fiddling with the mask to find the best balance of comfort and effectiveness. Still, overall, the lightweight and soft feel makes this a great travel item, short nap aid, or work break relaxation tool, all for 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 cozy and very relaxing for short periods of time and blocks out the light well due to it really forcing your eyes closed.
However, 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 lying 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 the head. Too, the weight of the mask is significant enough to restrict air through the 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 leak around the nose, so it's a tricky balance. Nonetheless, weighted masks are often used less for sleeping and more for relaxation or meditation, and for this purpose, it's great. We particularly enjoy using it 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. 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, though). 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 invigorating, especially after being out in the hot sun. After 20 minutes or so, we found the initial cooling power to drop significantly, and a little over 30 minutes, the whole mask felt close to room temperature (but it is neat that you can use both sides of the mask to maximize your cooling experience).
Material-wise, the mask picks up lint quite easily, and since the strap isn't adjustable, smaller or larger heads might find an issue with the fit. Also, the stitching in the middle of the mask lets light in fairly 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 (like us trying to fall asleep). One tester made a good point, stating that for her, weighted masks are an excellent 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 its best use is for intentional eye relief, cold therapy, and focused relaxation.
The Jersey Slumber Silk mask has a more basic design. With smooth silk material 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. Similar to other silk masks, this model is notable for its sleek and minimal design. We measured the circumference to range from 16.5 to 23.5 inches, unstretched. At the time of this review, the model only comes in black and 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, and the durability seems delicate overall. Still, we feel that for such a low price, we think this product is great for napping and traveling with.
The trtl Sleeping Mask is well made and feels durable. The foam eye pad provides some cushion and is removable from the main headband. The snag-free velcro is also long enough to provide impressive adjustability in the fit around the head. We find that the overall construction, use of soft materials, and additional features, such as the integrated flap for "peeking," are its strongest attributes. The circumference ranges between approximately 19.5 to 27.5 inches depending on how you line up the velcro. This model also comes with a mesh travel pouch and weighs about 5.8 ounces, which isn't overbearing.
On the downside, we have found that this mask did not provide a full blackout experience. The consensus is that light leaks around the nose, and, for our testers with small faces, around the temples as well. We feel this added light around the temples is the result of the plastic lenses sewn into the headband. We are not exactly sure why lenses exist, but since they do, the rigidity that is created detracts from the overall comfort and prevents the foam eye pad from contouring along the forehead. This rigidity also creates pressure points on our cheekbones and eyebrows, which isn't ideal for overnight sleeping. In the end, we feel that this mask is most suitable for short periods of use, like napping in low-light environments.
The Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask is relatively simple but has a piece of carbon steel wire for adjustment over the nose. The thin elastic strap is adjustable. 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 wider 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 flatly average. The function of the mask is also questionable. The nose piece, while a good idea, doesn't seem to perform as intended. The mask is on the smaller side, which isn't great for people with larger heads, but during our tests, we consistently found huge gaps around the nose for light to leak when worn by small faces, making us wonder whose face the design 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 still kept airflow open for the nostrils themselves. Still, it's tough to imagine this applying easily to everyone. Thus, we feel this model is best used for already dark situations and for people that simply want a warmer, cotton alternative.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our lead tester, Sara Aranda, is a lover of sleep, taking naps and resting between work and exercise. With a detail-oriented mind and a background in writing, she brings a much-appreciated critical eye to her gear reviews. We also passed each mask around to our partners and friends to get a broader opinion on how each mask fits. During our testing, we slept with each mask and also tested them during the day to attain a general feel of their function and comfort. For a more technical examination, we used an LED flashlight to determine whether or not claims of complete "blackout" capabilities hold up under more intense scrutiny. We also tried to be aware of different sleeping positions during the overnight and nap-related tests, from back to side to stomach. We critiqued the fit and comfort of the straps, the overall ease of use, and the perceived durability of the materials and construction. In the end, we ranked the entire lineup and determined the best use for each model based on our head-to-head test results.
Analysis and Test Results
In the vast world of sleep masks, it appears that there are two main groups of users: those who want intentional pressure on the eyes and those who don't. Depending on what part of this spectrum you reside on, the comfort, fit, and therefore, the effectiveness of each product will be perceived differently. Plus, with how uniquely shaped every face is, designing a one-size-fits-all mask is difficult, as is writing a review to provide a one-size-fits-all recommendation. So, we created different performance metrics to observe and compare each model on a more objective level. This will help you focus on the aspects that are most important to you. We do our best to keep the reality of our personal preferences and face-shapes in mind as we assess and critique each product.
We feel this metric is one of the most important. For a mask to function, it 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 the eyes, so we also sought feedback from someone who does like such pressure to conceptualize this metric better. We also consider the strap adjustability, as it relates to fit and thus, comfort, and how the feel of the mask might change between different sleeping positions.
The masks with the highest comfort ratings included the Manta,MZOO, LKY DIGITAL, and the Nidra. All four 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 to the middle of the comfort spectrum. They all yielded slightly above-average comfort due to the nature of more complicated fits and their different distributions of pressure across the face. The masks that didn't generate high comfort marks are the Jersey Slumber and the trtl. The Jersey, despite its silk construction, simply couldn't compete with the others in our opinion, and the trtl created unwanted pressure points on our cheekbones and forehead no matter what we did to adjust. In the end, we have to prioritize comfort for overnight use over that of napping or meditation, since bettering sleep is the prime reason for these products to exist in our opinion.
This performance metric is where we assess the more practical function of how well each mask sits on the head and blocks out light. We noted light leaks, issues with fit, and whether or not a mask stayed on properly. Fit, as with comfort, plays a significant role in this metric, as effectiveness is greatly diminished if one can't comfortably utilize the mask. Essentially, we compare the design intention of each product with the real-life performances we experienced. For comprehensive testing, we made sure to use each one during both the day and at night.
With the ability to block out light as the top priority, we used an LED flashlight to put each one through the ultimate test. We moved the flashlight in circles around our heads and took notes on how each model fared. 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 almost entirely remove all light, but we were still able to tell there was a flashlight circling around our heads. Many of the others did well enough, with light leaking about the nose being the most common fault. The model that truly failed, in our opinion, was the Mavogel Cotton mask due to its wire-nose design, which is more bothersome than useful.
With so many different options and "added perks," we take a different look at the design, style, and any key features that the manufacturers boast about. These models embody a wide range of styles from the traditionally minimal to more novel interpretations (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). Both the MZOO and LKY DIGITAL sleep masks are notable for their 3D memory foam design. They also come in a variety of colors (at the time of this review). The Nidra also has a contoured design for the eyes, which is quite deep, 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 application. Both aren't the best for sleeping, however, yet they receive excellent marks for their more specialized intentions. Both silk masks and the Mavogel, however, sit at the bottom of this metric due to their relatively minimalistic natures. Beyond soft fabrics, there isn't much else going on in terms of extra perks or novel design. Finally, the trtl sleep mask is somewhat of a conundrum for us. It has many added features, almost too many. The plastic lenses are the most detrimental to comfort and fit for us, which is a true bummer since it is well-made and durable overall.
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, the MZOO, the Mavogel, and the trtl models. Durability is likely to be long-term with these masks. Their overall construction feels and looks made for long-term use, aided by the quality of materials used and thorough stitching.
The Nidra mask is so lightweight that we do question its long-term durability. The edges of the mask are very thin and fray easily. The stitching around the velcro also looks like it'll pull away from the elastic strap after a while. The two silks masks, the Alaska and Jersey Slumber, also seem delicate. Silk is inherently not the most durable fabric to use, which is why silk is associated with more luxury items. We can feel the material on these masks catch slightly just from brushing our rough hands across them. 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 make them usable in a variety of scenarios and circumstances, including plane rides, naps, relaxation, and of course, deep sleep (hopefully for all types of sleepers). This is where all the previous metrics boil down to whether or not we feel a particular design is too specialized or too simple to be used in these other circumstances. 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 excellent for blocking out light no matter where you are. The latter is a quintessential mask with its straightforward, slim, and lightweight design. It'll pack all the more efficiently and the style is also fun for public spaces. On the other hand, the Gravity mask is the most specialized in our opinion and, therefore, the least versatile.
With so many varying styles and performance qualities to think about, we believe a sleep mask will serve you best when it fits both you and your specific needs. We hope that combining our testing experiences with your personal preferences will help you find the right mask — one that will elevate your moments of relaxation and overall quality of sleep.
— Sara Aranda