Sleep is essential to every function of the human body, so it should be no surprise that our eyes need sleep for optimal functioning as well. Here are five ways that sleep affects your eyes.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your eyes become “tired” faster. This can lead to eye fatigue, which can cause headaches, dryness in your eyes or general feelings of lethargy when trying to read or work on a screen. During sleep, your eyes are replenished with essential nutrients they need to function. A bad night’s rest can keep them from getting the nourishment they need.
Dark circles under the eyes
Dark circles under your eyes are your body’s way of telling you that it could use a little more sleep. The thin skin under the eyes will often swell (think: puffy eyes) or appear darker when sleep is lacking. This is also a sign that your body is retaining fluid. Proper rest and hydration should minimize these dark circles.
Do your contact lenses feel dry or brittle frequently? Do you constantly feel like your eyes are dry? These could be factors related to the amount of sleep you are getting. Your eyes need that time overnight to lubricate and oxygenate.
Bloodshot eyes & significant redness
Tiny blood vessels in your eyes can appear red and noticeable when you don’t get enough sleep. This is often referred to as “bloodshot” eyes. This can be a sign of infection or allergies but can also just be a sign that your eyes need to stay shut a little longer at night.
More serious eye conditions
An extended lack of sleep has also been connected to other more serious eye conditions. One such condition is called Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (AION), which is associated with middle-aged people with sleep apnea. This disease leads to interrupted blood flow in the optic nerve that can lead to vision loss.
High-quality sleep each night isn’t optional for your body, or for your eyes. If you are having a hard time getting the rest you need, talk to your doctor about ways you can sleep better or longer. Limiting caffeine intake (especially at night) and avoiding staring at screens within an hour of bedtime are just two simple strategies that could help you sleep a little better each night. Sweet dreams!