Ah, the irony of parenthood. Most of the day you feel like you could fall asleep in the middle of 6th Avenue during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But then comes bedtime and you’re mentally doing your taxes, crafting a witty comeback to a decades old diss and making tomorrow’s to-do list. One thing that can help? Controlling the amount of light your eyes let in by using a sleeping mask.

For ages, I thought of sleep masks as more of a cute sleep “prop,” used only in movies and clearly just for show if they leave eye makeup in tact (looking at you, Holly Golightly.) And isn’t blocking light what our eyelids are for?


But over the past few years I’ve grown much more sensitive to any light in my sleep environment. I started unplugging hotel alarm clocks and regularly imploring my partner to turn down the brightness of his phone when he’d read in bed after I’d already called it quits. Falling asleep now requires me to create a black hole of nothingness. Blackout curtains can help, but a sleep mask is key.

Our favorite sleep masks at a glance

Nidra Sleeping Mask

Asutra Eye Pillow

Nodpod Weighted Eye Mask

Alaska Bear Silk Sleep Mask

Lunya Washable Sleep Mask

Manta Sleep Mask

NewGo Cooling Eye Mask

How do sleep masks work?

Scientifically speaking, light affects our circadian rhythms by signaling our internal biological clock to regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Bright light (especially blue light like the screens we stare at practically all day, everyday) suppresses the production of melatonin–the elusive sleep hormone which makes us feel more awake and alert during the day. On the flip side, darkness triggers the release of melatonin, helping us feel sleepy and eventually fall asleep at night. The conclusion? Managing our light exposure is essential to maintaining a healthy sleep-wake cycle and improving our overall well-being. (Here’s where I’m supposed to tell you to ditch the screens well before bedtime but you should know that would make me an insufferable hypocrite.)

5 benefits of sleeping masks

Whether you wear one every night, while you’re traveling or just when you’re trying to snag a nap during daylight hours, sleeping masks offer several benefits, including:

1. They promote deeper sleep

With the light blocked out, your body can relax into a deeper, more restful sleep. And not just because it keeps you from stewing about the neighbor’s obnoxious porch light–but because the dark gets your melatonin cranking.

2. They reduce eye strain

Whether you’re scrolling TikTok or updating hours of spreadsheets, screen time makes your eyes strained and tired. Wearing a sleeping mask can help to reduce eye strain and promote relaxation when it’s time to finally doze off.

Related: No more guessing: Screen time guidelines for toddlers to teenagers

3. They can help with jet lag/clock changes

If you are traveling across time zones, wearing a sleeping mask can help to regulate your sleep patterns and reduce the effects of jet lag. Similarly, that extra hour of day light means the sun creeps in your window an hour earlier. Slap on a sleep mask and you’ll never know the difference. (Unless you have small children. In that case, godspeed, friend.)

4. They make it easier to relax

Sleeping masks can create a sense of calm and relaxation, which can help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Also, they hide any and all mess–especially piles of unfolded laundry.

5. They reduce wrinkles and puffiness

With their gentle pressure, eye masks can help promote better blood flow around the eye, reducing inflammation.

If you’re hoping to improve the quality of your sleep, we’ve rounded up some of our personal favorite sleep masks as well as some highly-rated, raved-about options that will send you off to Dreamland in the blissful black of night–even if it’s not.

Our favorite sleeping masks

Nidra Sleeping Mask


Sleeping Mask


Envelop yourself in complete and total darkness without putting even a whisper of pressure on your eyeballs. With convex molded cups, the highly-recommended Nidra Sleeping Mask looks like a bra for an American Girl doll and lets you nap without smudging eye make up or compressing the face. Since your eyes have room to flutter and the overall construction is flat and lightweight, it’s easy to relax into sleep and completely forget you’re even wearing it. A simple velcro closure at the back makes it easy to find the proper fit and keep it in place as you drift off to dreamland.

Recommended for: Side and back sleepers, travelers and mamas who want to snag a mid-day nap without messing up their perfect cat eye.

Asutra Eye Pillow


Eye Pillow


From relaxing during yoga or meditation to snagging a good night’s sleep, the Asutra Eye Pillow wins the award for versatility. The light-blocking design is made with two separate pieces–a skin-soothing silk exterior which can be used on its own and a removable zippered pouch containing flax seeds and lavender to add some gentle weight and aromatherapy. It also comes with extra to add or refresh your mask later on! And while you can pop it in the fridge for an extra dose of chill relaxation, they also throw in a gel eye mask when you really need to de-puff.

Recommended for: Anyone who needs the sleep-inducing combo of light blocking and lavender.

Nodpod Weighted Sleep Mask


Weighted Sleep Mask


I admit, I was initially skeptical of this sausage-link style eye mask. Dubbed “the weighted blanket for your eyes,” I wondered how this unconventional design wouldn’t just slip slide right off the second I fell asleep. Well, it doesn’t and after the first night, I never want to sleep without it. Let me explain.

The 18 inch long design features four weighted pods that rest on your eyes and temples. The ends are hollow with a button hole on one side if you want to secure it. (For side sleepers like myself, you can just rest your head on one end and slide the first two over your eyes. The remaining length will keep it in place.) It’s not super heavy, but the gentle pressure definitely helps me relax into sleep quicker than I tend to without it. The weight also helps block light, even if you choose a lighter color. I also love that it has two different fabrics, one that’s soft and cozy and one that’s cooler. You can even toss it in the freezer for an extra dose of chill or to treat a migraine.

Recommended for: Those who want a little dose of weighted comfort with their darkness.

Alaska Bear Silk Sleep Mask

Alaska Bear

Silk Sleep Mask


With over 25K five-star ratings, there’s no shortage of accolades for this affordable sleep mask. The simple, one-strap mulberry silk design is light and comfy and easy to adjust to a wide variety of head sizes. (Just cinch or expand it like a bra strap!) It’s large enough to keep the light blocked out, but still keeps your nose clear and unobstructed.

Recommended for: Sleeping mask newbies or budget-shoppers who only want the basics.

Lunya Washable Silk Sleep Mask


Washable Silk Sleep Mask


Every day can’t be a spa day, but the luxe sleep mask from Lunya can make you feel just as pampered. It’s made from the highest quality mulberry silk and can even double as the perfect headband for your skincare routine. (In fact, we like to think of it as loungewear for your face.) Where other masks can be too squeezy, crease skin or pull and kink your hair, this puffy mask keeps everything smooth and comfortable. (No one likes waking up looking like they spent eight hours face down in a pile of potato chips, right?) The wide band allows it to stay in place while completely blocking the light and offers the added bonus of blocking a bit of sound as well. The best part? It’s totally machine washable!

Recommended for: Anyone who wants a posh nighttime routine–but also has no time for fussiness.

Manta Sleep Mask


Sleep Mask


Like a set of blackout curtains for your eyeballs, the uniquely designed Manta Sleep mask plunges you into darkness no matter where you are. Seriously, I think you could stand in the middle of a football stadium with every flood light in a 20 mile radius aimed at your head and think you were on the moon. The magic is in the soft foam eye cups which affix to the inside of the puffy band. Crafted to create space around each eye, they can be positioned to perfectly fit your face without exerting any pressure. I’m also a fan of the micro hook closure which manages to not snag my hair but still stay put when I toss and turn.

Recommended for: Folks who want a sleep environment so dark they could doze in Times Square.

NEWGO Cooling eye mask

Best cooling eye mask

NEWGO Cooling eye mask


Puffy eyes and ongoing eczema battles have led me to depend on what I like to call Ice Naps™ to keep me sane this winter. I pop this bad boy into the freezer for about 15 minutes (just long enough for it to get crispy cold but not frozen solid) set a timer for another 15 and strap it to my face for a refresh. The icy chill is surprisingly relaxing and helps keep my pufferfish vibe to a minimum. Personally, I always use it with the plush side against my face, but you can also opt to wear it gel bead side in for a deeper chill.

Recommended for: Fellow puffy eye sufferers, anyone who struggles with migraines or headaches.