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Sleep is Vital to Your Overall Eye Health
If you want to be as healthy and productive as possible, then you must be getting the appropriate amount of sleep every night. Sleep is vital to the health of your mind and body. Consistent lack of sleep can negatively impact your health, often leading to weight gain, a weakened immune system, an increase in blood pressure, mood changes, and trouble with your memory. However, lack of sleep can also negatively impact your vision and eye health.
Experts agree that your eyes need sleep to replenish themselves just like your body and mind do. They agree that your eyes need at least five hours of sleep every night, so they can adequately refresh. If you don’t give your eyes the rest they need, then you put yourself at risk of developing vision-threatening conditions.
First Eye Care North Arlington understands the importance of sleep, not just for your health but for your vision, too. Lack of sleep can negatively impact your eyes in several different ways. We are here to provide you with how your eyes are affected and how you can better protect your eyes.
Lack of Sleep’s Impact
According to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of Americans do not regularly get the appropriate amount of sleep. The CDC recommends at least seven hours of sleep for a healthy adult. As we mentioned earlier, your eyes need at least five hours of sleep per night to properly replenish themselves. However, many people don’t reach that number. Whenever you don’t sleep long enough, your eyes pay the price. Many side effects of sleep deprivation are mild. However, there are just as many that are more severe and can threaten the overall health of your eyes and vision.
Arguably the most obvious side effect of little sleep, as well as the mildest, is dark circles under your eyes. Fluid builds up underneath your eyes whenever you don’t get the proper amount of rest every night, which causes them to look puffy. These dark circles make you look more tired and older.
However, lack of sleep can cause more than aesthetic side effects. There are several conditions that are the product of sleep deprivation.
Common Side Effects
- Eye Spasms: Also referred to as myokymia, eye spasms are common side effects of sleep deprivation. It occurs when your eyelids involuntarily twitch. Eye twitching can occur on either your bottom or top eyelid. It can range from barely noticeable to incredibly frustrating and disruptive. It is important to note that they do not harm your eyes or lead to vision loss.
- Dry Eye: Lack of sleep can also lead to dry eye. Dry eye can be a painful and irritating condition. Your eyes don’t receive the lubrication they need to function properly. You may experience dry, itchy, and red eyes. This may lead to light sensitivity and eyestrain.
- Eye Infection: As we already mentioned, if you don’t get adequate rest every night, your immune system takes a hit. Your eyes are very sensitive, so when your immune system is weak, your eyes are more susceptible to eye infections. Pair that with the lack of lubrication due to dry eye, and your eyes are in even more danger.
- Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a very serious eye disease that threatens your vision. This disease attacks the optic nerve due to an increase in pressure in your eye. Damage of this nerve often goes unnoticed. A recent study discovered that people who sleep less than what’s recommended are more likely to develop glaucoma than those who sleep well.
Tips to Sleeping Well
Now that you are aware of the potential harm sleep deprivation has on your eyes, it’s time to focus on ways to improve your sleep.
- Limit Blue Light: Blue light signals to the brain that you are supposed to be awake. Typically, humans would only come in contact with blue light from the sun. However, fluorescent light and digital screens frequently emit them now. If you are on your phone when it is time to go to bed, the blue light emitting from your phone makes it difficult for you to fall asleep. The best way to combat this is to turn off all screens before you go to bed. If you have to be on your phone, most phones have a Night Shift mode that reduces the amount of blue light emitted.
- Exercise: If you develop a habit of exercising regularly, you will improve how well you sleep. You exert enough energy to tire out your body to ensure it is ready to rest and rejuvenate itself. However, you shouldn’t work out too close to bedtime. If you work out within three hours before you go to bed, you may struggle to fall asleep.
- Develop a Routine: Another way you can improve your quality and quantity of sleep is by developing a set schedule for when you wake up and go to bed. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Your body will develop a habit and naturally wake itself up and get tired at the right time each day.
- Rest Your Eyes: If you wear contacts, take them out at night. Even though wearing your contacts at night doesn’t harm your eyes, nor does it affect your sleep, it can affect how well they replenish themselves after a long day. Your eyes receive the oxygen they need directly from the air around you. However, when you’re wearing your contacts, they block the air from reaching your eyes. When you are asleep, your eyelids also block air from reaching your eyes. By taking your contacts out at night, you give your eyes a chance to properly refresh.
Regularly See Your Eye Doctor
We cannot stress how important visiting your eye doctor is for your eye health. Even if you don’t struggle with a lack of sleep, it’s still good to visit your eye doctor twice a year. If you do experience symptoms of sleep deprivation like the ones mentioned about, schedule your next appointment at First Eye Care North Arlington. We will find the best way to help you better protect your eyes and vision.