Sleep: One of the Best Things You Can Do For Your Eyes
According the Center for Disease Control, over 40 million people in the United States get less than 6 hours of sleep per night. It is recommended that adults ages 18-60 get at least 7 or more hours of sleep each night, and we all know why.
Lack of, or poor quality sleep affects all of us in ways we’re all too familiar with, from dark circles under your eyes, to cognitive impairment, fogginess, inability to concentrate, and depression. Insufficient sleep also affects our bodies by contributing to weight gain, and even increased risk of serious health problems like a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, and heart disease.1
What you may not know is that sleep deprivation can also have negative effects on your eyes, beyond those unsightly dark circles.
Catch All the Z’s You Can – You Really Need Them
Just as your body needs sleep to rest, heal, and replenish, so do your eyes and the muscles that control them. Without the time to recover and revive, your eyes can experience a number of conditions that range from merely annoying, to potentially hazardous to your vision.
One of the most common side effects of sleep deprivation on your eyes are eye spasms or eye twitching, otherwise known as “myokymia.” While eye spasms may not be painful, and are unlikely to cause damage to your eyes or vision, spasms in your eyes and eyelids throughout the day would definitely qualify as irritating.
Another common and more harmful effect of sleep deprivation are dry, itchy, bloodshot eyes. Dry eyes can not only be painful and frustrating, but dry, itchy eyes are an indication that your eyes are not getting the lubrication they need, and lubrication helps keep your eyes healthy.
Irritated eyes will likely mean you’re rubbing them more than you otherwise would, which could lead to infection, and over the long term, lack of sleep and dry, irritated eyes can increase your risk of glaucoma and other eye-related diseases.
Count Your Sheep for Better Eye Health
You not only need enough sleep, but optimum quality sleep to get all the benefits on your mind, body, and eyes. Here’s a few quick tips on how to get regular, healthful, restful sleep.
1. Slow down and start tuning out about an hour before tucking yourself in. Trying to go to sleep completely wired, rarely leads to a good night’s sleep.
2. Exercise regularly. You’ll find sleep to be much more restful with regular exercise.
3. Be as consistent with your sleep schedule as possible. Your body responds well to routine. Going to bed at around the same time every night is a great way to improve your overall sleep quality.
4. Avoid eating before bed, and eat healthy food. If you can give yourself at least 3 hours to digest before bed, your body will have less work to do overnight, giving it more time to relax and replenish.
5. Turn off your lights and devices. Set yourself up for success by shutting out anything that might intrude upon a good night’s sleep. Keep your space dark, quiet, and comfortable so your body can focus on real relaxation.
If you’re really having trouble sleeping, or experiencing serious sleep-related issues like sleep apnea or insomnia, contact your doctor and share these experiences with your eye doctor at your next appointment so they can help address your concerns before they get any worse.