“Is sleeping with your eyes open possible?” you may wonder. It’s not only possible but common.

Around 20% of people sleep with their eyes open according to WebMD. The condition even has a name, nocturnal lagophthalmos.

Sleeping with eyes open can lead to dry eyes and eye sensitivity. In this post, we take a closer look at the causes and effects of sleeping with eyes open.

Read on to find out more.

Why Are Some People Sleeping with Their Eyes Open?

As you fall asleep, your facial muscles relax, and with that, your eyelids close to prevent light from reaching the photo receptors in the retina. This signals to the brain that it’s time for your body to rest. 

The body’s internal clock, the circadian rhythm, relies on light-based signals that the retina passes on to the hypothalamus in the brain. During sleep, the closed eyelids help to create darkness that stimulates the production of melatonin.

woman lying on the bed with her eyes wide open and her hand touching her necklace

Falling asleep with eyes open is not something normal. It’s not like snoring now and then. It can affect your eyesight and sleep and lead to serious long-term problems.

Keeping your eyes open while sleeping is known as nocturnal lagophthalmos. The condition can occur in one or both eyes.

Nocturnal lagophthalmos can have many causes. These generally involve either problems with the eyelids or with the facial nerves or muscles.

What Causes Nocturnal Lagophthalmos?

Next up, let’s take a closer look at what causes sleeping with eyes slightly open or fully open. The most common nocturnal lagophthalmos causes include:

  • Problems with the nerves of the face because of injury, stroke, infection, autoimmune disorders, or other conditions
  • Eye injuries
  • Having a bulging eyeball (proptosis)
  • Weakness or paralysis in the muscles closing the eyelids (orbicularis oculi muscle)
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Graves’ disease
  • Being born with eyelids that cannot close all the way (floppy eyelid syndrome)
  • Sun damage affecting your eyelids
  • Chemical burns
  • Eyelid surgery
  • Sleeping pills
  • Alcohol

In rare cases, nocturnal lagophthalmos can be idiopathic. It may occur without doctors being able to establish what causes it.

You may not be aware that it happens until you experience eye dryness and the other symptoms associated with the condition.

Signs You May Be Sleeping with Your Eyes Open

Waking up with dry eyes? Or with a feeling that you have grit in your eyes? It could be because of nocturnal lagophthalmos.

The signs that you’re sleeping with your eyes open can range from mild to severe. They can include:

You may experience some of these signs first thing in the morning. In more serious cases, they can persist throughout the day and become chronic.

Why Does Sleeping with Eyes Open Cause Dry Eyes and Other Vision Problems?

Eyelids serve as a protective barrier for the eyes and are essential for sleeping well at night.

When we close our eyes, a layer of tears covers the eyeball. This flushes out dust and debris, lubricates the eye, and creates a moist environment that ensures the eyes function at their be­­st.

When you sleep with your eyes open, the tear film evaporates. As a result, your eyes lack the lubrication they should normally get during the night.

closeup portrait of one half of a woman's face lying on white sheets with her eye open

Without this lubrication, the surface of the eyes dries and becomes susceptible to damage and infection. This i­­­s why sleeping with your eyes open causes dry eyes and a range of other eye symptoms.

People that sleep with their eyes open may have symptoms that come and go. Or they may experience constant eye dryness.

Is Sleeping with Your Eyes Open Dangerous?

Sleeping with your eyes open every night can lead to severe eye dehydration. This can increase the risk of infections or injuries of the eye.

It may lead to damage to outermost layer of the eye, the cornea, or an open sore on the cornea, also known as a corneal ulcer. In severe cases, sleeping with your eyes open can lead over time to loss of vision.

Addressing eye dryness and the other symptoms of nocturnal lagophthalmos is only the first step to treating the condition.

If your symptoms are severe or long-lasting, it’s important to see a doctor. Your doctor may prescribe specific treatment based on what’s causing the condition.

Treatment for nocturnal lagophthalmos may include medical tape that can keep your eyes closed. Or a small weight for the upper eyelid that will pull it down while you sleep.

It’s also important to reduce your alcohol intake and limit or avoid taking sedatives at night.

Closing the curtains and turning off or removing light sources may help you sleep better.

Consider also adding a humidifier to your room and leaving it on during the night. It can reduce the effects of dry eye disease.

In severe cases, doctors may recommend weighted implants. These are implanted in the eyelids through surgery.

Keep Your Eyes Nourished

If you are sleeping with your eyes open, the right mix of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals can help soothe your eyes and reduce some of the unpleasant symptoms you may have in the morning and throughout the day.

SightC is an eye health supplement that brings together goji berries, turmeric, Cherokee rose, and other powerful ingredients that work synergistically to support healthy vision.

It has lutein and zeaxanthin, powerful antioxidants that your eyes need to function correctly. It also provides fatty acids and other nutrients that support the production of healthy tears.

Based on plants, SightC is gluten and sugar free. And since it’s delivered in a vegetable capsule, it’s suitable for any type of diet.

SightC can help improve dry eye symptoms so you can work, read, play, use digital devices, and enjoy everyday activities as you would normally.

Keep your eyes healthy with SightC.

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