How sleep Affects Your Eye Health

Do your eyes end up feeling dry and tired at the end of the day? For some, this fatigued feeling comes even during the afternoon. The causes of eye fatigue can vary, but what it often comes down to is that your eyes are tired.

Some common culprits of eye fatigue include careers that demand extreme eye focus. These can include driving, writing, or reading. With increasing technology usage, eye fatigue is becoming more and more of a problem for people in any career field.

How Much Do You Sleep?

So many people suffer from chronic eye fatigue, and yet few may even realize that the solution is more sleep. If your eyes feel tired, it means they’re not getting their proper rejuvenation each night. But does the amount of sleep you get really affect your eye health?

According to Canadian statistics, 30% of adults get fewer than six hours of sleep per night. Considering the recommended amount of eight hours, it’s even more shocking to discover that a large chunk are getting more like 4-5 hours on a good night.

The old adage “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” may be easy to throw around in conversation, but your eyes need sleep to function.

What Eye Symptoms Can A Lack of Sleep Cause?

Along with causing grumpiness and increased caffeine use, a lack of sleep prevents important eye-renewal processes. If you persist in getting too-little amounts of sleep, your symptoms begin to include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Bloodshot or red eyes
  • Swollen or “baggy” eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye spasms, also called eye twitches
  • Dryness and irritation
  • Moderate pain

These symptoms may not seem like anything serious, but will definitely affect your day and quality of life. What’s more, if you continue to not get enough sleep, your eyes can develop a variety of more serious conditions:

  • Chronic dry eye:

This condition arises because your eyes can’t produce new tears and cleanse themselves during the night. Without deep sleep to aid this process, your eyes will lack tears and the protection they provide.

  • Glaucoma:

Although sleep deprivation doesn’t cause glaucoma, sleep apnea links to glaucoma development. The lack of oxygen caused in sleep apnea increases chances of glaucoma, and negatively affects the optic nerve. Be sure to get tested for sleep apnea if are often tired and you think you might have it.

  • Ischemic Optic Neuropathy:

When you sleep, blood flow increases to renew and reboot your eyes. But, if you consistently don’t get enough sleep, the lack of blood flow damages the optic nerve and results in sharp pains and unclear sight.

So How Does Sleep Help Your Eyes?

There are five stages of sleep, but it’s not until the fifth stage when you enter REM or rapid eye movement. This eye movement signifies an important level of deep sleep that aids procedural memory. It also is usually only reached after 70-90 minutes. After people complete the fifth stage, they usually cycle back to stage two.

During a complete night’s sleep, people will cycle through the five stages several times. Stage five is usually only experienced more than once during a full night’s rest of about eight hours. As you might guess, people who get only a short amount of sleep experience far less REM sleep. With that loss, they also lose access to important rejuvenation processes for their eyes.

Such processes include the sloughing off of old cells and proteins, which then make way for new and healthy cells. Your tear ducts replenish themselves as well, cleaning and renewing parts of your eyes as they do so. Without enough deep sleep, these processes are often interrupted or skipped altogether.

Because natural eye liquid lubricates and protects from infection, tired and dried out eyes become more vulnerable. For this reason, your beauty sleep is vital for your health as well as your looks. If you care about your eyes, do them a service by getting the proper amount of sleep.

How Can You Get Enough Deep Sleep?

For some, getting enough sleep is just about priorities. Others may have the time or schedule to accommodate a healthy sleep schedule, but their mind has other ideas. Sleep insomnia can be a daunting thing to overcome, but if you struggle to fall asleep at night, here are some basic tips to try:

  1. Cut back on caffeine to calm your body and mind
  2. Practice slow breathing and meditation before bed
  3. Don’t persist in tossing and turning: get up and do something else for a while
  4. Awake at the same time every day to train your body to sleep at the same time, too
  5. Only use your bed for sleeping; this trains your mind to know what it’s for

Other than these basic tips, you might also consider aromatherapy or even a warm bath. Whatever works for you, make sure to give your eyes the deep sleep they deserve.

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