Light Pollution Solution: The Best Eye Masks to Help You Fall Asleep

Intrusive light from outside your window or devices in your home can hinder sleep. We’ve picked the best eye masks for blocking out harsh light and falling asleep faster.


The modern ubiquity of cheap light means that there are now more lights than ever that can interfere with our sleep. Whether it’s the streetlamps that pour directly in our window or the bedside clock that seems unnecessarily bright, light is everywhere.

An eye mask can block out that light and ensure that you get the sleep you need.

While some sleep aids can cost hundreds of dollars, eye masks tend to be reasonably priced. That means that you can buy one for home and one for travel, or try several and see which one works best for you. Finding the one that feels comfortable and soothing can make all the difference.

Our top three mask options are

Manta Sleep Mask

Price: $29.99

Lunya Silk Sleep Mask

Price: $48.00

Bucky 40 Blinks Sleep Mask

Price: $12.99

Read on to learn more about these and other great sleep masks to prevent light from ruining your sleep.

Light Interferes With Sleep Quality

Light pollution is a common complaint among people who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep and may cause insomnia. Particularly in cities, rental apartment blinds are woefully inadequate to all the light from street lamps and car headlights. The inside of your bedroom can sometimes feel like Times Square.

Alternatively, you may have found blinds to shut out all outside light contributors, only to have your computer or phone light up like a tiny sun. Light from our screens is particularly detrimental to sleep because it is in the blue spectrum, which mimics sunlight.

When our brains see blue light, it throws off our circadian rhythm (a fancy way of saying “internal clock”). Exposure to blue light inhibits our production of melatonin (a hormone that helps us sleep). Basically, when we see blue light, our body says “oh great, it’s morning, better get up and start the day,” even if it’s 3 am.

How An Eye Mask Can Help

Eye masks function very simply:

They block out the light so it can’t get to your eyes.

It doesn’t take much, but a light barrier (pun very much intended) can block 100% of the light from your eyes, making it easy to fall asleep fast and stay asleep.

Eye masks can also help soothe you. In one study, patients wearing eye masks had elevated melatonin levels, spent more time in REM sleep, and experienced less arousal.

Eye masks aren’t necessarily for everyone, however. If you don’t like sleeping with anything touching your head or placed over your eyes, your comfort might be sacrificed.

In addition, if you sleep hot, eye masks can make you warmer. Your head is already surrounded by a pillow, so wearing an eye mask can function kind of like putting on a hat. That can be wonderful in cool winter rooms, but unbearable in hot summer ones.

The Manta Sleep Mask is designed with adjustable eyecups to ensure that no light gets through to disturb your sleep. The eyecups of this sleep mask also avoid putting pressure on your eyes.

Fit is a very important factor to consider when looking for your eye mask. After all, one that’s too big will let in light which defeats the entire purpose. Additionally, a mask that’s too big is likely to slip off as you move around during the night.

On the other hand, a mask that’s too tight will be uncomfortable and might even apply too much pressure to your head - ouch!

The Manta Sleep Mask has an adjustable band and fits around the bridge of the nose (which many eye masks don’t). This makes this mask fit just right so you’re able to block out light without sacrificing on comfort.

Alternatively, you can try something like the Bedtime Bliss contoured eye mask, which also uses contoured cups to block out light.

The Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Mask blocks out all outside light. It also uses light therapy within the mask to help you relax and fall asleep.

Light therapy sounds counterintuitive here - after all, isn’t that the very thing we’re trying to block out?

Yes, but light therapy is different than intrusive light from streetlights or your iPad.

The theory is that by focusing on dim pinpricks of light above the eyes, your brain waves slow and your body relaxes.

Light therapy is regularly used to treat people experiencing circadian rhythm disorders. In these cases, a person sits in front of a lightbox for a certain amount of time each day. The light coming out of the box mimics outdoor light and is believed to help regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle.

More research needs to be done to confirm how effective light therapy through a mask really is; however, there is some anecdotal evidence that the lighted masks do help them relax and even overcome jet lag.

The gel eye mask from Earth Therapeutics is designed to offer a cooling pressure on your eyes to help you fall asleep.

Like we mentioned above, one big potential drawback of using an eye mask is that it might make you too hot. So while you might be solving one problem (too much light), you might be adding another (too much heat).

Your body temperature fluctuates throughout the night as part of your circadian rhythm. Ideally, your temperature should drop as you’re nodding off and rising when it’s time to wake up. So if you’re too hot when it’s time for bed, your body will be given the wake-up signal instead of the fall asleep signal.

Gel eye masks help solve this issue. The gel beads in this Earth Therapeutics mask can help hot sleepers remain cool, while still blocking out light.

Similar to the gel eye mask mentioned above, silk is another material that might be helpful if you tend to run warm. In fact, silk is often preferred by sleepers because it is lighter weight than other fabrics, making it cooler.

The Lunya Silk Sleep Mask is made with a silk exterior and comes with a reusable zippered pouch for travel. It’s also machine-washable- a huge benefit as it’s not always the case with silk sleep masks.

Additionally, if skincare is a concern, this option might be beneficial as silk is known to be gentler on sensitive skin. You can also check out Cottonique’s Hypoallergenic Eye Mask. It’s made from 100% cotton, is chemical- and synthetic-free, and uses no spandex or latex.

Weighted blankets have been a popular option for those who struggle with sleep, particularly when the cause is stress and anxiety.

These specialty blankets have been known to increase relaxation. Some studies even suggest they may increase important hormones like Dopamine and Serotonin which are crucial to the sleep process.

Gravity’s Weighted Sleep Mask uses the same technology, creating a sense of warmth and security.

As with weighted blankets, light pressure around the eyes can promote melatonin production (which helps you sleep) and decrease cortisol (which makes you feel less stressed).

The combination of weight and darkness helps many people drift off to sleep easily. This sleep mask weighs one pound and has an adjustable velcro strap for a personalized fit.

Maybe you sleep just fine when you’re in the comfort of your own home, only to find yourself counting sheep into the early morning hours each time you travel. Whether it’s due to an uncomfortable bed, strange surroundings, or just plain jet lag - your chances of insomnia can increase when you’re away from home.

Enter eye masks designed specifically for travelers.

When we fly, we don’t enjoy any control over our environment. We’re also usually at least slightly uncomfortable, and our sleep schedule is often compromised. As a result, small sleep hygiene tricks (like exposing yourself to darkness) can make a big difference. The Bucky 40 Blinks Sleep Mask is .7 ounces and has eyecups that avoid putting pressure on your eyelids. The mask is hypoallergenic, and the price is right.

Did you know that smell can affect your sleep?

For instance, there’s some evidence that suggests lavender can help lower your blood pressure and decrease your heart rate, helping you to relax and drift off to sleep. Chamomile is another suggestion for some folks.

The Dreamtime Sweet Dreams Sleep Mask uses lavender flowers to harness the immense relaxation potential of scent. So with this option, you’re effectively killing two sleep hygiene birds with one stone: light and smell.

Light may be preventing you from getting rest, but the right eye mask can block out the light—whether you’re at home or on the road—and help you fall easily into sleep.