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Give Yourself a Break: Your Eyes Will Thank You

Posted on May 10th, 2017

Chances are you aren’t the only one yawning this morning. Studies have found that Canada is the third most sleep-deprived country, with nearly a third of respondents feeling like they don’t rest enough. It’s common knowledge that not enough snooze time can be harmful to your health, but the truth is it can also potentially be dangerous for your overall vision health.

It’s not hard to notice that on tired days you’ll observe dark circles under your lower lids. You may also experience sluggish thinking and movements. When it comes to your eyes, though, there are potentially serious ramifications to not allowing enough time for them to replenish.

The art of sleeping

The minimum amount of sleep your eyes need to properly rest is five hours. Without that break, these organs can’t work to their full potential. There are many side effects you’ll notice that indicate you haven’t had enough. The main indicator is an eye spasm, which is an involuntary twitch in your eyelid officially termed myokymia. Adequate sleep rests the body and all your eye muscles as well. Although these spasms are not painful and don’t damage your vision, they can be aggravating and disruptive. Getting a proper amount of rest can prevent myokymia.

Over time, more serious complications can result from a lack of sleep. For example, as a result of eyestrain, you can potentially pop a blood vessel. Additionally, a shortage of rest can cause dry eye, a condition when tears do not provide adequate lubrication. Your eyes need a constant supply of tears to function optimally, which is why blinking is so important. Lack of slumber prevents eyes from getting their needed fluid circulation, which is what both cleans and renews the eyes. When dry eye sets in, you can experience some pain, light sensitivity, itching, redness, or even blurred vision. Lubricating drops can be a temporary relief for dry eyes, but if you are experiencing dry eye due to a lack of sleep, a possible simple remedy is to have a good night’s rest.

Additional sleep related conditions

Even more rare but still a potential risk to the restless is the development of Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (AION). Associated with people who suffer from sleep apnea, this continued inflammation of the eye vessels can result in vision loss over time. Although these less common conditions are very unlikely for the average slumber-deprived person, remember that consistently puffy, dry eyes after nights of tossing and turning can indicate a need to address the situation.

Prepare your body for rest

Your eyes are important organs that are kept very busy all day long, so adequate rest is an important part of your nightly routine to ensure you have energy for the day. If you have trouble drifting off, there are a few things you can do to help encourage healthy sleep patterns:

  • Warm milk or tea before bed can help you relax
  • Read a book until you get drowsy
  • Avoid blue light emitted from electronics such as television and smart phones for approximately two to three hours before bedtime
  • Don’t exercise before bed. After a workout, your body releases endorphins which provide you with more energy and keep you alert. Try working out in the morning or directly after work so it doesn’t keep you up later than you’d like
  • Limit your caffeine consumption during the day. Switch to herbal tea after dinner to prevent caffeine highs

If you have any questions about sleep deprivation and the effect it is having on your eyes, contact your local FYidoctors clinic.