How Sleep Affects Eye Health

October 30, 2020

Have you ever noticed that when you don’t get enough sleep, your eyes feel uncomfortable before you go to bed or the day after when you wake up? This is a normal biological response to sleep deprivation, but it can have some serious consequences for your sight. Our bodies need quality sleep in order to function properly, because they heal and regenerate overnight. Our eyes especially revitalize when we sleep, so it’s important that quality sleep becomes a part of your lifestyle.

Lack of Sleep And Eye Health

Most physicians agree that getting 7-9 hours of sleep is appropriate for many adults, though every adult’s sleep needs are different. But with the world as busy as it is today, that’s often difficult to accomplish. Not only does a lifestyle of little sleep have ramifications for day-to-day life, it can also lead to long-term vision problems. Sleep deprivation can result in multiple unhealthy eye conditions, such as:

  • Itchy, red, watery eyes
  • Eye spasms or twitches (myokymia)
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Vision impairment
  • Sunken eyes with dark circles under them
  • Eye infections

These eye conditions triggered by a lack of sleep can also create risk factors for eye diseases. Glaucoma , according to recent studies, is another disease that may worsen from sleep deprivation. A disease of the optic nerve, this is a condition in which too much pressure builds up in the eye. If the optic nerve is not given adequate time to rest, it will begin to wear down. This can lead to progressive vision loss and even blindness.

Sleep apnea is also a risk factor for developing glaucoma, so if your sleep is disrupted by this condition, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor about treatment options.

Ways to Improve Sleep & Eye Health

There are many ways in which you can simultaneously improve your quality of sleep and your eye health.

Regulate Screen Use

Many people use their smartphones and other electronic devices up until or even after the moment they lay their head on their pillow. The blue tint and bright, flickering nature of screen light can harm your sight and impact your ability to fall asleep, especially in a dark room. Not only do the colors and lights of digital screens overstimulate the eyes (causing digital eye strain), they also affect the production of melatonin in your brain, the chemical that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. In fact, many physicians recommend shutting off all digital screens half an hour to two hours before bedtime, as this gives your eyes and brain an opportunity to wind down for the evening.

Take Out Your Contacts

Contact lens companies have developed contacts that you can keep in while you sleep. This is usually meant as a precaution for taking naps, travelling or accidentally falling asleep with the lenses still in your eyes. However, your eyes draw oxygen directly from the air to stay healthy and moist, even during sleep. Making a habit of keeping contact lenses in your eyes can block much-needed oxygen flow.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise has positive effects on every aspect of your well-being, including your eye health. When your blood gets pumping, it stimulates your blood vessels and organs, including your eyes, helping them stay functional and healthy over time. Exercise also helps maintain an equilibrium of chemicals and fluids in your body, including the melatonin that helps you fall asleep. When you exercise regularly, you’re more likely to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, and your eyes will reap the health benefits of both sleep and your workouts.

Set A Schedule

Adding a little extra structure to your lifestyle can make a world of difference in your health. This is definitely true for creating a set sleep schedule, in which you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Once your body has acclimated to the boundaries set by a sleep schedule, your circadian rhythm (the natural sleep/wake cycle within your body that is often linked to the rising and setting of the sun) will acclimate to it and help keep you healthy overall. Staying up too late can irritate the eyes, and in fact, noticing that your eyes feel tired or dry at the end of the day can be a good indicator that it’s time to hit the hay.

We Can Help

Getting adequate sleep is important for keeping your eyes healthy. If you’re experiencing sleep-related health issues, talk to your doctor about potential treatments and other solutions. However, if you experience eye problems as a result of poor sleep choices or an inability to fall asleep, we can help you treat and manage your symptoms. Contact us today to set up an appointment!

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