Sleep masks serve many purposes, other than just being a decorative gift or naff freebie on your airplane seat.
From blocking out light, helping you doze off without any distractions or giving your eyes a break from looking at screens all day, they’re one way of improving your sleep without needing to reach for medicinal aids.
It’s also ideal if you have different sleep patterns to your partner and prefer an early night, but don’t want to be distrubed when they come to bed later on.
When choosing one, it’s important to look at how well they cover the eye, how comfortably they sit on the face, how well they block out light and how effective the ties or strap are at keeping them in position while you’re using them.
With so many to choose from, we’ve narrowed it down to 10 that offer different features to help you get the best quality sleep possible, whether it's a quick afternoon nap or all through the night.
From luxurious silk styles to innovative eye contours, bold prints or self-heating options, we put them through a rigorous testing period, rating each on their design and effectiveness across high-end and budget buys.
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.
Smug contoured 3D blackout sleep mask
This ingenious mask has soft, but structured contours that leave space around the eye area, while still keeping you in total darkness. It was a brilliant way to block out the light without any pressure on our eyelash extensions and we were able to fully open our eyes while wearing it. Despite this, the mask is smaller than some of the oversized designs we tried but is equally as good, if not better, at helping us drift off without any light disrupting us. It’s very reasonably priced too, and while it would be nice as a present, we’ll be keeping this to ourselves.
Buy now £12.00, Sleep Smug
Slip silk sleep mask
As the most expensive on our list, this design screams opulence and is softer than any other we tried. Thanks to its 100 per cent mulberry silk material, it’s high quality and would make a gorgeous gift if you can bear to give it up. It comes packaged in a matching pink box which is a great way to keep it clean and from falling down the side of your bed when you’re not using it. As it is made from pure silk, we did find it can slide off your eyes and we woke up with it on our pillow rather than our face. That said, our reviewer was out like a light, so if you’re looking for a luxurious sleep aid, then this is it.
Buy now £50.00, John Lewis & Partners
Jessica Russell Flint monogram sleep mask
We loved the bold prints, bright colours and monogrammed design on this luxurious silk mask that made us look forward to going to bed. It was also a game changer when trying to snooze during the day, especially on a speedy lunchtime nap in between Zoom meetings. It’s created by British artist Jessica Russell Flint, whose signature style is eccentric, colourful patterns and while on the pricier side, it’s worth the splurge if you’re shopping for someone special. Made from pure silk, it’s super soft and the coordinating silk tie kept it in place without any problems.
Buy now £36.00, Anthropologie
Spacemasks eye mask pack x 5
Unlike the other masks we tried, this design is a one-use option that’s self-heating. The palm sized masks, once unfolded and looped around your ears, have a thin layer of iron filings that react with oxygen in the air to heat up safely. They’re also infused with lavender to be extra relaxing. Within a minute you can feel them begin to get warm, but they’re never too hot to touch, and we found they stayed warm for approximately 15 minutes. They’re a fantastic break for tired eyes that have been staring at screens all day, but we’d recommend keeping this for naps rather than to help you sleep better at night, as eventually they cool down.
Buy now £15.00, Beauty Bay
Echor total black out eye mask
We were very impressed by this mask that felt as light as air to wear. It sits gently on the face with foam indentations that mean you can still fully open your eyes while wearing it, without any light getting in. It helped us drift off much faster as there wasn’t that feeling of something on your face to get used to before we could relax. It’s a clever, fuss free design with an elasticated strap that we found worked best with short hair or long hair that was tied up for maximum comfort.
Buy now £12.99, Amazon
Antler infinity bamboo sleep mask
Travel accessory brand Antler is well known for its sturdy suitcases, but it’s also branched out further with this eye mask that looks like a traditional headband as it wraps completely around your head. As a result, it’s the most secure eye mask we tried, although it isn’t adjustable, so if you have a voluminous hair or a rounder head, it may feel too tight. That said, the material is made from bamboo which is naturally antimicrobial and super soft, and it’s also temperature regulating so it doesn’t overheat around your ears or back of the head.
Buy now £15.00, Antler
Alaska Bear luxury sleep eye mask
This is a great option if you’re shopping on a budget. There's 12 art-based styles to choose from, ranging from "The great wave off Kanagawa" to an illustrated aurora borealis, but we tried this Van Gogh-inspired number. It’s soft and feels silky, but our favourite feature is the adjustable headband, similar to a buckle, that can be easily loosened or tightened spending on your head shape. As most eye masks have a one size fits all approach, we loved this small change that made a world of difference to wearing it comfortably all night.
Buy now £9.99, Amazon
Desmond and Dempsey eye mask sansindo tiger print navy/pink
While many eye masks on the market these days tend to be a silk or satin fabric, this tiger print one created by the luxury sleepwear company is made from cotton, with a simple, fuss-free design and an eye-catching print. We love that you can coordinate it with matching pyjamas, which would make a lovely Christmas or birthday gift. It's a touch of luxury that’s worth splurging on. It felt comfortable to wear and didn’t slide down our face in the night, keeping us in the dark until the alarm sounded.
Buy now £55.00, Selfridges & Co.
Oliver Bonas queen bee eye mask
Unlike many of the satin and silk based masks on our list, this one is made from polyester and polyamide, with a soft, thin fleece-like feel. We loved the embellished metallic gold Queen bee motif and the affordable price tag. It is relaxing to use, so we’d recommend wearing it if you have a different bedtime to your partner and want to get a headstart on your sleep. However, the material is better suited to a quick afternoon nap rather than an all night of rest, as it can get quite warm beneath the mask. We had no issues with the elasticised strap, which was one of the most effective we tried and kept it in place the whole time we used it.
Buy now £14.00, Oliver Bonas
The verdict: Eye masks for sleeping
We can’t fault the Smug contoured 3D blackout sleep mask, and being able to fully open your eyes while still being comfortably in the dark is a game changer to both comfort and quality of sleep. It’s compact too, so there’s no problems bringing it with you on long car journeys, planes and trains.
We also loved the luxury feel of The Flat Lay Co. X Asos exclusive oversized silky eye mask that’s available for less than £15 and is just as good as the more expensive silk styles on the market.
For the latest discounts on sleepwear and other accessories, try the below links:
As the months get colder, why not snuggle up in bed with one of the best winter bedding sets?