In the age of smart devices and social media, remote work and seemingly unlimited digital content, getting enough sleep can be a challenge.
About 1 in 3 adults in the United States were not getting enough rest or sleep during the day before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have increased sleep duration in some of the population while further reducing it in other groups. At the same time, it has decreased sleep quality and altered sleep timing.
Why Not Getting Enough Sleep Is Unhealthy
Not getting enough healthy sleep is bad for mental health and overall health. It can increase the risk of depression, obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and early death.
Late night sleep side effects include brain fog, bad mood, lack of energy, and difficulty concentrating. These can lower your productivity and affect relationships. If you’ve ever had a bad day after not getting enough sleep the night before, you know perfectly what we mean.
What’s more, a 2022 study found that night owls are more sedentary, burn less fat, have lower aerobic fitness levels, and are more insulin-resistant than early birds. Insulin resistance increases the risk for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.
Sleeping late often means that you’re not getting enough quality sleep. Eye health side effects of sleeping late and waking late include fewer tears, worsening dry eyes, sensitive eyes, and a higher risk of eye infections and glaucoma.
Sleep is not a passive state but one in which your body repairs and renews itself in preparation for a new day. Sleep helps regenerates cells, strengthens your immune system, and regulates hormones, all of which contribute to eye health.
Sleep also stimulates the production of tears, and tears do more than lubricate your eyes. The tear film contains antioxidants that protect the eyes from environmental damage and disease.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. According to the same guidelines, older adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep, school-aged children need 9 to 11 hours of sleep, and teenagers 8 to 10 hours of sleep.
But is this enough sleep for your eyes? And what about your bedtime—does it matter at what hour you go to sleep?
Sleeping Late and the Risk of Myopia
A 2020 study that followed 6,295 children aged between 6 and 10 years in urban areas found that sleeping late is a risk factor for developing myopia as well as for the greater progression of the condition.
In the study, children who slept at or after 9:30 pm had 1.4-fold higher odds of developing myopia. This was true even if children got plenty of sleep and spent time outdoors during the day, a known protective factor against myopia.
The study found no correlation between actual sleep duration and myopia. However, it did find that children who slept after 9:30 pm had a significantly higher risk of developing myopia. More research is needed to investigate the negative effects of sleeping late on adult eye health.
Findings from a previous study on highly myopic teenagers support the idea that a late bedtime could affect eyesight. The study found that highly myopic teenagers had a late bedtime compared to children with mild myopia or without the condition.
Sleeping late may disrupt the circadian rhythm, which has been associated with myopia in at least one animal study. Circadian dysregulation in the form of higher melatonin serum levels has also been noted in people with myopia.
Myopia, even when corrected, significantly increases the risk for macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other complications that can cause vision loss. Myopia is predicted to affect around 5 billion people by 2050.
Sleeping early, by contrast, encourages an early wake-up time, which contributes to better sleep and all the health benefits that come with it. It also gives you more time to eat a healthy and nutritious breakfast that contains healthy foods for your eyes.
In the end, the key benefit of sleeping early is better quality sleep, which plays a crucial role in keeping your eyes healthy. From better tear production to a lower risk of chronic eye diseases, good sleep is essential for healthy vision.
Sleeping early in the digital age isn’t easy, but creating a healthy bedtime routine can help.
How to Create a Healthy Bedtime Routine for Sleeping Early
Boost your sleep health with these tips for a healthy bedtime routine. As you’ll see, getting healthy sleep starts well before you enter your bedroom. With a bit of planning and preparation, you can make it much easier for your body to fall asleep.
- Have a set bedtime, in this case, 9:30 pm.
- Stop eating or drinking alcohol 3 hours before bedtime.
- Stop working at least 2 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid screen time at least 1 hour before going to bed—that means putting away your phone.
- Make your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool, setting your thermostat to between 60 to 67° Fahrenheit (15.6 to 22.2° Celsius).
- Take a warm bath an hour before you go to sleep, which heats your body and then cools it down quickly, mimicking a natural heat drop that induces sleepiness.
- Listen to music that calms you, which can include nature sounds, pink noise, or white noise.
- Practice deep breathing exercises, meditation, simple stretching, or yoga.
- Read a book, though preferably one that’s not so exciting that it will keep you up at night.
You may want to experiment with different room temperatures and bedtime routine habits to find the ones that work best for you.
If you are currently sleeping late, it may be unrealistic to expect to fall asleep around 9:30 pm right away. Aim instead to sleep earlier through gradual increments, by reducing your bedtime hour by 30 minutes every week.
Spending time outdoors during the day, exercising, and riding a bike to work instead of driving can all help tire your body in a healthy way and facilitate an early sleeping time.
Tip: For more tips on better sleep, check our sleep hygiene tips.
Sleeping Early for Good Eye Health
The thing to remember is that it’s important to go to sleep at the same time every night. Your body needs this consistency to stay healthy and function at its best. Of course, the odd night out with friends doesn’t count—your body can recover after one night of lost sleep.
But you don’t want to make a habit out of scrolling through social media in bed or watching movies late into the night. Or even reading a book for that matter, if it keeps you up at night.
If 9:30 pm is simply too early a bedtime for you, you can work towards building healthy sleep habits by going to bed before 10:00 or even before 11:00. That will likely improve the duration and quality of your sleep and have a positive effect on your overall health.
Before adjusting your bedtime, you may want to read our post on What Time Do You Wake Up? to better understand the benefits of waking up early.
Listen to your body and try to adjust your bedtime accordingly. Sleeping early and waking early will help you feel good and energized—and help keep your eyes healthy for years to come.
Finally, good sleep is only one component of healthy vision. Limiting screen time, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and managing stress are all important. Taking a natural eye health supplement can help too.
SightC is a premium superfood blend created to keep your eyes healthy in the digital age. Including goji berries, turmeric, and other superfoods, SightC provides lutein, zeaxanthin, and key vitamins and minerals your eyes need to stay healthy.
Learn more about SightC.