How To Sleep With Your Eyes Open?

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You may be curious to know if it’s even possible to sleep with your eyes open. The short answer is, yes, it’s possible, but it’s not recommended given the long-term health effects. Though sometimes sleeping with your eyes open may allow you to relax your mind and body, doing so regularly can negatively impact your health.

Some people are compelled to sleep with their eyes open because of certain underlying medical conditions. They may be sleeping with their eyes partially or fully open because their eyelids don’t close properly, for instance. It’s beneficial to seek medical attention as soon as possible in these cases. Learn more about the side effects of sleeping with your eyes open and how to sleep with your eyes open.

Side Effects of Sleeping with Eyes Open

It’s normal and natural to sleep with your eyes closed because your eyelids block light, which stimulates your brain into wakefulness. Closing your eyes shuts off light sources to your retina, which is essential for good sleep. The body produces the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, only when it perceives darkness around.

There’s also a reason each person has eyelids. They act as a protecting cover for your eyes, shielding them from dust, dirt, and irritants. Every time you blink, your eyes are coated with oils and mucus, keeping them nourished and hydrated. Shutting your eyelids for a prolonged period during sleep boosts eye health because it keeps your eyes moisturized and allows them to rest, along with your body. Sleeping with your eyes closed is good for your eyes and your overall sleep quality. When you don’t shut your eyes and sleep in this natural way, it affects both your sleep quality and eye health.

However, you may choose to sit and sleep with your eyes open to allow yourself to sneak in some rest time. You can do it once in a while to effectively utilize your downtime, but doing so regularly may lead to problems such as:

  • Eye irritation, such as dryness or redness
  • Burning sensation
  • Blurry vision
  • Sleep disruptions at bedtime

Steps to Train Yourself to Sleep with Eyes Open

Despite the side effects, if you still want to use this trick of sleeping with your eyes open for a quick cat nap or rest, below is a step-by-step guide to train yourself.

Relax Yourself

Pick a secluded spot for yourself, so you can avoid any disruptions while sleeping. Then, practice progressive muscle relaxation to calm your entire body. You can do this by tensing and then relaxing all of your muscles, starting from your toes and moving up to your neck and head. This physiological process precedes sleep, and replicating it prepares your body to sleep with your eyes open.

Breathe Slowly

You should focus on your breath next. Take deep and measured inhales in and out of your nose. Try counting at one-second intervals to get the full effect and benefits of deep breathing. You’ll begin to relax without feeling the need to close your eyes.

Focus on Something

Then, choose a point to focus on. Avoid choosing a bright object or light because that will disrupt your sleep. You can fix your gaze on any stagnant object or point to prevent your vision from wandering. If you keep moving your eyes, it will delay the process of sleep.

Let Your Thoughs Flow

The ultimate goal is to attain a clear mind, free of thoughts, making you feel calm and at peace. You can consciously think of happy and positive things to soothe your nerves and prepare for sleep.

Using these steps, you should be able to get in a quick rest while keeping your eyes open.

Medical Causes of Sleeping with Eyes Open

Sometimes neurological problems or physical abnormalities may prevent you from closing your eyes while sleeping. With time, you may outgrow some of these medical causes, but certain cases may require medical intervention to prevent further complications.

Nocturnal Lagophthalmos: Nocturnal lagophthalmos is a condition in which the affected people are unable to close their eyes properly during sleep. It affects 1.4 percent of the adult population. The term “Lagophthalmos” is derived from the Greek word, “lagos,” referring to the concept of rabbits sleeping with their eyes open. Certain physical abnormalities of the face, eyes, eyelids, or ingrown eyelashes may cause nocturnal lagophthalmos.

Excessive eye dryness may also lead to this condition. You can splash some water in your eyes at bedtime and keep a humidifier near you to moisturize your eyes. If your problem persists and causes sleep disruptions, it’s best to consult with your doctor. Depending on the cause of nocturnal lagophthalmos, your doctor may suggest surgical or non-surgical interventions, such as using moisture goggles or eye drops.

Injury or Trauma to Facial Nerves: Injuries from an accident or cosmetic surgery can damage the nerves that control the eyelid movement. Sometimes corrective surgery for ptosis (drooping upper eyelid due to weak eyelid muscles) may damage nearby nerves, making it hard to close your eyes completely.

Bell’s Palsy: Bell’s Palsy causes temporary weakness or paralysis of the nerves that control the face, eyelids, and neck. An affected person may not be able to close their eyes while sleeping. Most people recover from this condition with or without treatment. However, consulting with a doctor will speed up the recovery process, preventing chances of damage or injury to the eyes. Your doctor may suggest medications or physical therapy, and surgery is rarely required for treating Bell’s Palsy.

Autoimmune Conditions: There are some auto-immune conditions such as Guillain-Barré syndrome which affects nerves in the body, causing loss of control over facial and eyelid muscles. Those diagnosed with this condition find it difficult to sleep with closed eyes.

Moebius Syndrome: Moebius syndrome is a rare disorder causing weakness or paralysis of the facial nerves. It’s inherited and visual at birth. Those with this disorder are unable to pucker their lips, smile, frown, raise their eyebrows, or close their eyelids.

Ptosis Surgery: Some people have a drooping upper eyelid. This condition, called ptosis, is associated with the weakening or injury to the muscle that lifts the eyelid. While surgery can help correct this condition, a common complication during surgery could keep the eyelid from shutting completely. This results in sleeping with the eyes partially open.

What are the Dangers of Sleeping with Your Eyes Open?

If you sleep with your eyes open then you may often wake to find that your eyes are dry, red, and irritated. It’s annoying and painful in the short-term, but there are also potential long-term problems that can occur if you chronically sleep with your eyes open.

Sleeping with your eyes open on a nightly basis can cause your eyes to become inflamed and can also lead to dry spots, ulcers, or even scarring on your cornea or the inside of your eyelids. Therefore, it’s ideal to get a good night’s sleep the natural way, with your eyelids closed shut.

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