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I’ve always been a poor sleeper, what you might call a “situational insomniac.” When my brain’s whirring, I can’t fall asleep, no matter how hard I try. Over the years, I’ve collected sleep solutions that largely require me having complete and utter control over my surroundings: a sleep tracker, a temperature-regulating mattress pad, a pillow I love so much I’ll put it in my carry on, silence, darkness. You get the picture (or rather, lack thereof.)
So although I was absolutely thrilled to spend a week in a surf town in Costa Rica for vacation, at a gorgeous hostel that friends and social media have raved about, I was nervous: Somos in Santa Teresa is notoriously noisy, with live music carrying on every night until midnight. Nowadays, I’m early to bed, even if it takes me a long time to fall asleep, and it would be my first hostel experience.
I bought some earplugs, but my main saving grace was the Manta Sleep Mask Sound ($143), a blackout mask with Bluetooth that’s grown on me over the past few months. While I enjoyed the mask when I first received it, this is one of those goods that’s taken me completely by surprise. It’s only gotten better with time and use.
First, I fell for the blackout feature. The mask itself features two C-shaped eye cups that obliterate any and all light—which came in handy during my last living situation. Long story short, my neighbor’s AirBnb next door refused to ever turn off the porch lights, which shone straight into my room at the exact eye level at which I sleep. Personally, I prefer waking up to natural light, which makes a mask a better option for me than blackout curtains.
I’m generally pretty cranky when it comes to sleep masks, as they slip and slide around my face when I’m trying to sleep. The doubled wrap style of the Manta Sleep Sound fits perfectly to my features, because I can adjust the tightness and position, and therefore forget about it which is crucial. Once I started sleeping with the Manta Sound Mask consistently, I started not being able to sleep without it.
The blackout mask has also come in handy for me on red eye flights, when I generally don’t sleep at all even with some dramamine-assisted drowsiness. You can really squish down the mask, or even loop it onto your backpack, so it takes little space but has a big payoff.
It wasn’t until arriving at Somos, and feeling the uh-uh-uh bass echoing through the floorboards at 10 P.M., that I experimented with the Bluetooth feature of my mask. I plugged in my earplugs, but they didn’t seem to help all that much. When I wrapped up my mask, the noise deadened, but then I remembered that I could connect it to an audiobook, music, or even white noise to muffle the DJ from outside.
It’s easy enough to connect the mask via Bluetooth, and doesn’t require a separate app. I queued up a soundscape and fell asleep within minutes, which I hadn’t expected. The mask was extremely helpful for those kinds of situations, in which you need to cover sound rather than silence.
Spec-wise, the mask has a 20 hour battery life, no audible battery notifications (so it won’t wake you up when it’s low power), and you can even use built-in sliders to adjust the precise position of the razor-thin speakers around your ears without reaching for your phone. It plays your chosen audio quietly enough that it won’t wake or disturb others around you—the sound is for your ears only—but sounds immersive enough that I had to check once or twice that my phone wasn’t playing music out loud. Even when sleeping in hot, AC-less climates, the mask was comfortable and never stifling thanks for its aeration characteristics.
My one suggestion is that I wish I could charge the mask and listen at the same time, as I may forget its battery life before bed and have to wait on it before falling asleep. I can charge the mask handily with my Mac charger, a USB-C, so I do love that there’s not a separate chord.
Overall, the Manta Sleep Mask Sound is an absolute winner for me. While I’ve gotten to be very overly picky about my sleep environment, the Manta Sleep Mask Sound is a portable method of summoning that same peace (which I need) while on-the-go. While the mask will absolutely be my go-to for eradicating light or sleeping in communal dorms again—and would have come in handy while in New York City—it would also be an excellent sleep mask for camping, long road trips, and other scenarios in which the external environment is largely out of my control.
Not for you? No stress. The brand offers a 60-day trial, so you can sleep with it for a while and see if it’s for you. As I mentioned earlier though, I used this mask lightly at the beginning, then adored it even more the longer I used it.