There are two types of people: Those who use sleeping masks, and those who have never tried sleeping masks. I am fervently the former. My journey into voluntary sightlessness began while backpacking through Southeast Asia in my mid-20s. To fall asleep in the dozens of different dormitories, I took to blindfolding myself with a thin silk scarf. It didn’t even cross my mind to purchase a real sleeping mask until coming across an expertly crafted velvet eye mask in a San Francisco vintage store. It turned out to be a bondage mask. After losing that at a hostel in Naples, I engineered a reverse trip back to Naples to try and find it. I was unsuccessful.
To replace my bondage mask, I tried close to a dozen masks before I found my holy grail, thanks to glowing customer reviews on Amazon. The Lewis N. Clark Comfort Eye Mask promises and delivers total darkness, superior comfort, and customizable straps. The cotton interior is pillowy-soft, so much softer and more comfortable than other masks that I tried, many of which were made from polyester (or other nonnatural fabrics). Some used Velcro in the back, which tangled my hair. Some were technically successful but were too thick or stiff or above my price point of “stingy.” The Lewis N. Clark is affordable but it doesn’t feel cheap.
What really separates the Lewis N. Clark is the rib of padding along the bow-shaped bottom edge. Most sleeping masks let in the light in the gap under your eyes, but this mask blocks out all of those early morning rays. It delivers a Mole Man level of complete darkness. Some masks I tried also aimed to block sound by wrapping around the ears, but only a fool would ask a sleep mask to do such a thing (I use ear plugs for that).
Some other Strat-approved eye masks
If you’re interested in an eye mask that doesn’t sit on your eyes so much as surround them, try the Bucky eye mask that writer Maureen O’Connor first brought to our attention: “The molded-foam material is so lightweight that you barely feel like you’re wearing anything on your face. You are free to blink in total darkness. This liberation of masked eyelids is, I assume, why the mask has become a best seller. I’ve worn it on economy class transatlantic flights. I’ve worn it on trips with friends who insist on waking up with the sun. I’ve become an evangelist, sending masks to every sleepless person I know — and, over time, to the vain as well.”
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