Sleep masks are often considered an unnecessary accessory that simply sits unused on your bedside table. However, they’re an effective way to get a better night sleep without taking medication (and feeling groggy the following morning) or looking at a screen with the latest sleep-inducing app.
In fact, sleep masks can remove tension from your eyes after long days of work, excessive screen staring, stress and headaches that can affect your eyes. They can also compensate for a room where the curtains or blinds are not fully blocking the light, as a really dark room helps the body and nervous system switch into night mode.
Dominique Antiglio, resident sophrologist at The Bamford Wellness Spa, says: “When choosing your sleep mask, it needs to feel comfortable, fully block out the light, and not too tight around the head or eyes so it doesn’t add tension on the face or around the head.”
Antiglio adds: “If you begin wearing one, do wear it every night for a while to give your body and mind time to adjust and see if it does help your sleep and relaxation.” We bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Whether you’re looking for something lightweight and basic, or a sleep mask with all the frills, our definitive guide can help you find the perfect accessory to increase the quality of your sleep.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
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Spacemasks, pack of five
These amazing self-warming eye masks have been a bestselling product since the day they were launched. They help to remove tension, stress and headaches, but our tester found them particularly effective in encouraging relaxation and fell asleep easily when wearing one.
Each mask is individually sealed, and the heat is only activated when you open the sachet and it comes in contact with oxygen in the air. Simply, unfold the mask and gently apply to your eyes, while fitting the loops around your ears. The comforting but also strange sensation lasts for 15 minutes before the mask begins to self-cool. An absolute must-buy for migraine sufferers. Our only criticism is that they are one-use only.
Buy now £15.00, Victoria Health
Voluex light blocking sleeping eye mask
If you suffer from sensitive skin, hayfever or eye allergies, this is a great choice thanks to its skin-friendly and breathable material – the outer layer is made from cloth and silk and the inner layer is modal cotton cloth. This lightweight mask blocks out all light (thanks to its thick side flaps) but doesn’t feel heavy on your eyes. It comes with a set of earplugs to ensure all the noise around you is silenced, creating the perfect set up for full-on relaxation... Its adjustable strap makes it easy to customise for any wearer. This is a great choice for anyone wanting a functional sleep mask that simultaneously blocks out a little noise but a lot of light.
Buy now £8.99, Amazon
Alaska bear sleep mask
This mask is probably the least complicated, most basic mask on the list, but it does everything you expect. It is made of 100 per cent silk (on both sides) which helps skin retain moisture, relaxes muscles and reduces the appearance of fine lines. It has an elastic strap that'll adjust to your head size and blocks out light without added bulk. There are loads of colours and prints to choose from too. A bargain buy.
Buy now £6.99, Amazon
Slip pure silk sleep mask
Worried you frown in your sleep? This 100 per cent mulberry silk eye mask claims to shield your eyes while you get your forty winks while keeping frown lines and wrinkles at bay. This instantly feels luxurious to wear and just like silk pillow cases, it can actually help prevent creases in your skin.
It's hypoallergenic, offers breathable temperature control and we especially love the weightlessness on our face. Staying put all night, it's ideal for stomach sleepers or if you’re the type that tends to move a lot. The only downside is the high price point.
Buy now £50.00, Cult Beauty
Powcan wireless bluetooth gel sleep mask
This is modern technology at its best. A sleeping mask that allows you to play music and connect to your own devices, it has heat and cooling settings, is completely washable and rechargeable, blocks out all sunlight and is made from breathable velvet. It’s foolproof to use and set up, all you need to do is decide whether you want a cooling effect (place removable gel pack in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before use) or a heated soothing finish (place the gel pack in hot water for five minutes).
Either way, you’ll feel relaxed, pampered and in your own world. Perfect for people who get headaches and puffy eyes. An absolute bargain too.
Buy now £14.99, Amazon
TechRise 3D contoured eye mask
This ergonomic design is wider and deeper than the traditional flat eye masks but leaves no pressure on your eyelids and blocks all light out. Its innovative design and adjustable strap means both adults and kids alike can use it, plus it’s machine-washable so children’s grubby hands marks can easily be washed away. Punching way above its price point, this comes with earplugs and folds into almost nothing. A great choice for travellers, but if you have long hair, be careful of it catching in the Velcro fastening.
Buy now £7.99, Amazon
Jessica Russell flint personalised alphabet eye mask
Not sure what to buy the person that has everything? This silk eye mask comes in a beautiful box and makes the perfect gift. We love the soft wadding, luxe feel and bright, colourful designs from classic paisley prints to funky animal and food illustrations. Although this mask doesn’t fully block out the light, our tester was impressed by how comfy it felt and how there were no mascara stains post-daytime nap. This did help us to drift off, but isn't a serious sleep-enhancer like others in our round-up.
Buy now £38.00, Not On The High Street
Bamford heart eye mask
An anniversary present with a twist, perhaps? It may not be the most obvious of sentiments, but we love the heart embroidery detail and the crisp linen base is a clever choice for those with eye allergies. Call it an act of love so you can get your well-deserved beauty sleep. Although not a cheap choice, this mask has a spa-like quality that instantly encourages you to wind down.
Buy now £55.00, Bamford
Holistic Silk Liberty Isadora flower eye mask
Luxurious yet lightweight, this silk mask is beautifully crafted with a super-sized design (unlike many others) and makes for the perfect light-blocking fit. It’s packed with dried lavender flowers to soothe, but the smell is gentle and not at all overwhelming like some lavender-based products.
It’s larger than most other basic silk eye masks, so it’s particularly great for side-sleepers that need shielding from the light at all angles. The brand's collaboration with Liberty’s print house delivered this special limited-edition sleep mask that deserves a place on your bedside table, if nothing more. A stylish accessory but also one that will help you switch off.
Buy now £65.00, Holistic Silk
Yolke leopard purple rain silk eye mask
If you’re obsessed with leopard print (that would be all of us, then) this funky eye mask won’t disappoint. Softly padded and 100 per cent silk, this loud-printed number is great quality for a reasonable price point. It’s comfy to wear though slightly on the large size for small heads, which isn’t ideal when the straps aren’t adjustable.
But, we do love the fact that you can customise your mask by adding a monogram to your chosen style (there are lots of different prints in the range). A fun choice of gift for fashion-conscious but not for those looking for serious shut-eye.
Buy now £35.00, Yolke
The verdict: Eye masks
For a purse-friendly option that provides total blackout, Spacemasks takes the top spot. These self-heating masks will make you feel warm and cocooned whether you’re lying in bed or travelling. It is just disappointing they’re not reusable.
For those of you that are looking to invest in a mask that has the added luxe factor, then the skin-friendly softly-padded Slip mask is worth the extra pounds. It’s hypoallergenic, doesn’t crease or tug on skin and stays put all night long without pulling on hair or letting in light. Ticking all the boxes for a restful night.