Living in a fast-paced world, we’re often overwhelmed with life’s demands. Stress, anxiety, problems of the day can weigh on us until we sacrifice one of the most important factors for our overall health—sleep. Losing sleep can be detrimental to every part of our being, including our vision.

Many health issues can arise from not procuring adequate rest, and so it shouldn’t be surprising that sleep deprivation can negatively impact your eyes. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults need 7 or more hours of sleep per night for the best health and wellbeing and short sleep duration is defined as less than 7 hours of sleep per 24-hour period. The CDC also reported that more than a third of Americans are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.

How can lack of sleep affect my eyes?

The old wives’ tale that not procuring enough shut-eye can cause dark circles under your eyes is actually a fact. Experts agree that there’s a direct link between the loss of ZZZ’s and the dreaded “bags” under the eyes. A decrease of sleep promotes the increase of retention of blood and fluid around the eyes, creating a dark tint.

Because the eyes require a constant supply of tears, another negative factor that can originate from a shortage of sleep is dry eye. This occurs when tears don’t satisfactorily lubricate the eyes which can trigger pain, light sensitivity, itching, redness. 

Myokymia is another ramification of sleep deprivation. This is an involuntary, repetitive twitch which occurs because the muscles that control the eyes are fatigued. In fact, lack of sleep is one of the primary causes of eye spasms.

A study, published in 2008, revealed that sleep deprivation can cause tunnel vision which is can be extremely dangerous when driving.

Some repercussions of sleep shortage can be hazardous to your vision including popped blood vessels due to eye strain. 

Other effects due to lack of sleep include:

  • Double vision
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Burred vision

What can I do?

The obvious answer would be getting enough shut-eye. Studies have shown that the eye needs at least five hours of sleep per night to properly replenish. To improve the quality of your sleep it’s important to eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet, exercise earlier in the day, and eliminate external stimuli such as lighting from phone screens or lap tops. Essential oils, like lavender and valerian root, have been known to promote sleep. You can also incorporate relaxation techniques, like yoga, to promote healthy rest.

Deborah Moon, OD

Deborah Moon, OD

Dr. Deborah Moon provides eye health and wellness exams for patients of all ages. She is therapeutically licensed to treat all diseases of the eye, treat eye injury, and specializes in glaucoma treatment, difficult contact lens fitting, and LASIK management. She believes in formulating a customized treatment approach designed for each individual patient depending on the patient's needs and symptoms. As a proponent of the importance of healthy lifestyle and nutrition for good vision and eye health, she coordinates her patients' care with their holistic and medical practitioners to provide the best integrative medicine approach. read more...