Living on the Road

Lights Out Sleep Mask

REM-enabling black out eye wear

This mask has indispensable for daytime naps or when sleeping in barracks or tents with other people who like to stay up late. I was stationed for a couple months in Qatar and am currently stationed in Kuwait (that’s as much as I am able to tell you without breaking OPSEC). The mask is more effective and comfortable than the other ones I’ve worn. You can open your eyes no matter the time of day and think it’s the darkest time of night. It blocks the light most effectively due to the contour over the nose. With normal masks you get gaps on the sides of your nose, no matter how you try to position it or if it has a nose cut-out. When I got back from basic training five years ago I discovered I liked to take mid-afternoon naps. I found a silly sleep mask, pink with fake daisies on it. I was able to sleep, but I would wake up with my eyes all dried out. I eventually lost it and went through a basic satin sleep mask and also a silk eye mask that had little pillows attached to the bottom edge so it wouldn’t smash your eyes. Once again, though, both of them dried my eyes out something fierce. Since this mask does not press against your eyes, it allows for moisture to draw out out along your eyelashes.


I have been using the mask almost non-stop for the last nine months. I don’t use it nightly anymore, mainly because lately my roommate goes to sleep before me. I use it during the day when I have to work an overnight shift. I have a tendency to lose things so when it’s something affordable I buy two. When I had a different roommate, we worked different shifts. She would borrow one of my masks, and we were able to each leave a light on for the other person so we wouldn’t walk into a pitch black room. On one occasion, there was a horrific downpour that flooded our tent. Unfortunately one mask was drenched and when it dried out it the fabric started to come away from the foam. I continued to use it and the second mask I brought with me. The second mask’s foam started to separate from the fabric when I had to fold it up to stick in my pocket and take it out and fold it back several times on my journey from Qatar to Kuwait. Even though the fabric is coming away on both masks, they are still comfortable and wonderful to wear.

In a few months I am going home because my deployment will be over. Even though I’ll be back to being a “citizen/soldier” in the National Guard, I plan to keep sleeping with this mask. I don’t have to adjust it five times to fall asleep or use eye drops after I wake up. And I love the sensory deprivation aspect. I have traveled a lot. On a plane I use the mask in conjunction with my iPod and an inflatable neck pillow. I love thinking that when I open my eyes it might be in a different place than when I closed them. With this mask I can pretend, until I take it off, that I am going to wake up at home in my own bed.

— PFC Erica H Sandberg

Lights Out Sleep Mask
Available from Amazon

Related items previously reviewed in Cool Tools:

sleep probs.jpg
Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems

Blinkless Eyedropper

Patagonia Travel Beanie


© 2022