Search IconSearch
March 16, 2021/Living Healthy/Sleep

The Case for Wearing a Sleep Mask

Here's why you might want to give it a try

Person asleep on their back in bed with an eye mask on and one arm above their head

With the promise of taking “beauty sleep” to the next level, sleep masks are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. But do they help you sleep better?


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

“It depends on the person,” says sleep expert Samuel Gurevich, MD. “People need to find out what works best for them. A safe, calm environment is important for a good night’s rest, and blocking out light is part of that. Eye masks can help, especially if your normal sleeping time is during the day.”

Dr. Gurevich discusses getting your best rest by using eye covers for sleep.

Do sleep masks work?

A sleep mask is a fabric eye mask used for sleeping benefits. And while Dr. Gurevich says there isn’t a lot of research supporting their effectiveness, anecdotally, they seem to help.

“Staying alert is the body’s response to a dangerous environment. Thousands of years ago, the people who fell asleep easily, especially if it was loud and busy outside, were the ones eaten by the saber-toothed tigers. Those who were appropriately alert survived, and so did their genes,” explains Dr. Gurevich.

“That’s why many need their environment just right to fall asleep. It normally needs to be safe, comfortable and without a lot of stimulation, including artificial light or a TV playing in the background,” he continues. “Eye masks can help achieve this because they create that dark, quiet room.”

Who should try a mask for sleep?

Dr. Gurevich says that while anyone could benefit from wearing a sleep mask, you may find them particularly useful if you:

  • Don’t have blackout curtains where you sleep.
  • Have insomnia.
  • Work a night shift.

Sleep mask benefits

“Putting on an eye cover for sleep can be part of a calming bedtime routine that conditions your brain to recognize everything’s safe, calm and comfortable. Your routine tells the brain it’s time to shut off and let sleep come,” says Dr. Gurevich.

Because sleep masks can help you fall asleep faster, they may increase the amount of sleep you get. Good quality sleep can improve your:

“Longer-term benefits of good healthy sleep include a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke,” adds Dr. Gurevich. “Sleep is one of the unsung heroes of our health. We tend to take it for granted and borrow from it, but it affects every part of your life.”

How to find the right eye mask for sleeping benefits

Dr. Gurevich recommends choosing a mask for sleep that feels comfortable. “It’s a highly individualized decision. Some people like a soft, fuzzy surface. Others prefer a shiny one,” he says. “There are also people who find good results from cooling or heating eye masks.”

Your sleep mask should fit not too tightly and remain comfortable even when you sleep on your side. “Focus on what feels the best instead of what looks the best, and you’ll find the right eye mask for you.”


Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Happy couple sleeping in bed together, holding hands
June 3, 2024/Sleep
The Scandinavian Sleep Method: A Surprisingly Simple Fix for Couples Struggling With Blanket-Hogging

Sleeping with separate blankets can help you get the ZZZs you need — without fighting for covers all night

Person sitting on bed in pjs with head in hand, eyes closed
May 29, 2024/Sleep
Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

Stress, weight gain and forgetfulness are just a few effects of losing sleep

Person in bed experiencing nightmares
May 22, 2024/Sleep
7 Reasons You’re Having Nightmares

Stress, alcohol, sleep apnea and (you guessed it!) scary movies are a few common causes of bad dreams

Person sitting in chair writing in tablet
May 21, 2024/Sleep
Should You Be Keeping a Dream Journal?

Recording your dreams may help you become more mindful, understand your thought patterns, process your emotions and even reduce your stress

Person sitting in bed in the evening, reading a book, with cup of tea on bedside table
May 15, 2024/Sleep
Restless? Try These Bedtime Teas for Better Sleep

Chamomile, lavender and valerian root teas may offer a faster route to dreamland

Person asleep in bed, talking in their sleep
May 3, 2024/Sleep
Why Do People Talk in Their Sleep?

Many factors can contribute to sleep talking, like stress or anxiety, lack of or low-quality sleep, or even more serious sleep-related conditions

Young child in bed reading at night
May 2, 2024/Children's Health
Nighty-Night: Tips To Get Your Kid To Stay In Bed

A consistent, structured routine, which may include incentives, can help children learn to stay in bed and get the ZZZs they need

Person in bed at night without covers, with fan blowing on them
April 17, 2024/Sleep
9 Reasons Why You’re Sweating in Your Sleep — And How To Get Relief

Getting to the root cause of night sweats — like menopause, medication side effects, stress or anxiety — can help you manage them

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims