Sometimes it’s hard to get a full night’s sleep, but when we don’t, we definitely feel it.
In fact, studies even show that not getting enough sleep has many of the same effects on the mind and body as alcohol. There’s an interesting relationship between our quality and quantity of sleep and our eyes. We can encourage better eye health with good sleep and we can use our eyes to get better sleep!
Sleep Deprivation Compromises Eye Health
Sleep deprivation can take a hefty toll on your eyes. Some side effects are mild, while others can become quite serious.
One of the less dangerous side effects of sleep deprivation is having dark circles underneath your eyes. When you don’t get the sleep you need, you may notice that your eyes look puffy or that you have dark circles underneath your eyes. This makes you look tired and older.
Skimping on sleep can also lead to eye spasms and twitching throughout the day. This can become incredibly frustrating and make it difficult for you to read, do your work, or drive safely.
A slightly more serious negative side effect of lack of sleep is having dry, itchy, bloodshot eyes. Dry eyes can be painful and cause irritation, but this can also mean your eyes aren’t getting the lubrication they need to stay healthy. You may also notice that you are sensitive to light or that your vision is blurred. The other problem with having dry, itchy eyes is that you are more likely to rub them, which could cause eye infections. Being sleep deprived also weakens your immune system, so you are more vulnerable to infections when you don’t get enough rest.
Because lack of sleep is detrimental to your health, it can eventually lead to more serious eye problems such as glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition where too much pressure builds up inside the eye. Eventually glaucoma can lead to loss of vision. Sleeping each night gives your eyes the chance to rest, heal, and replenish so that they can stay healthy.
Turn Off Blue Lights Before Bed
No matter how smartphone savvy you are these days, biologically speaking, your eyes still find these high-tech devices very confusing. Laptop, tablet, or smartphone screens all put out a lot of blue light. In nature, the only source of blue light is the sun, so when we see blue light, our eyes think it’s still daytime and that we should be awake!
Because of this, browsing the internet right up until bedtime can make it much harder for our brains to go to sleep, which really cuts into the time we could’ve been sleeping. Looking at bright screens in dark rooms also leaves us more vulnerable to digital eye strain.
We aren’t here to tell you that you should get rid of your smart devices, and we won’t even insist that you completely avoid them before bedtime. As with many things these days, there’s an app for that (or, in some phones, built in Night Shift settings). If you absolutely have to be online right before bed, take advantage of these apps or features that reduce the blue light emitted by the screen. Your tired eyes will thank you!
Wear Contacts? Give Your Eyes the Night Off!
Whether or not you remember to take your contacts out at night might not affect your overall health or your quality of sleep, but it does make things harder on your eyes. Our eyes get oxygen directly from the air. Contact lenses block air from reaching them, especially during the hours our eyes are closed for sleep.
Some types of newer contact lenses allow much more oxygen flow, but taking them out overnight will still be the healthier choice. In addition to letting your eyes breathe freely, it reduces your risk of eye infection from the bacteria that likes to accumulate around contact lenses. In any case, check the labeling of the boxes your contacts come in to make sure you’re only wearing them for the recommended length of time.
Prioritize Eye Exams
If you have any questions about the relationship between sleep and eye health, make sure to bring them with you to your next eye exam! Even if you have no questions, get plenty of sleep, and remember to take your contacts out before bed, however, we’d still love to see you on a regular basis to make sure your eyes are staying functional and healthy.