The Relationship Between Eyes and Sleep
Many Americans are chronically sleep-deprived, largely due to unhealthy habits like inconsistent sleep schedules. You probably already know how challenging it can be to get through your daily responsibilities after a restless night, but you may not realize that sleep deprivation can affect your precious eyesight. However, you have the power to improve your sleep quality with a few simple changes.
How Lack of Sleep Impacts Eye Health
You may be familiar with the short-term symptoms of sleep deprivation, like fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Over time, insufficient sleep can compromise your immune system, make weight loss difficult, lead to high blood pressure, and contribute to mood swings and memory loss. It can also affect your eyes.
Healthy adults need seven to nine hours of restful sleep nightly to function effectively throughout the day. Over time, the less sleep you get, the more likely you’ll be to experience uncomfortable issues like eye strain and dry eyes. The good news is that improving your bedtime habits can help you get better-quality sleep.
Our Internal Clocks and Blue Light From Screens
For almost all human history until recently, the natural day-night cycle was wholly responsible for regulating people’s circadian rhythms – the internal clock that tells your brain it’s time to be alert in the morning and sleepy after dark.
Today, we spend hours per day looking at screens that emit high-energy blue light waves. Laptop screens, TVs, cellphones, and tablets all use LED technologies that generate high amounts of blue light. Light from this portion of the spectrum signals your brain that it’s daytime, no matter how late at night it is.
No matter how tech-savvy you become, you can’t change your eyes’ biology, but once you understand how blue light affects your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, you can take steps to change your habits for the better.
Make Your Bedroom a Tech-Free Zone
If you’ve noticed you struggle to fall asleep once in bed, mindlessly scrolling through social media, checking emails, or reading articles on your phone, tablet, or laptop will only make things worse. Turn off these devices at least an hour before bedtime or change your screen settings to reduce blue light after sundown. You may be surprised how much your sleep quality improves and what a difference it makes in your daily life.
Give Your Eyes the Night off From Your Contact Lenses
Many modern contact lenses are much more oxygen-permeable than older models and allow your eyes to breathe better. However, you should still take them out overnight, even if they are a brand designed for you to sleep in.
Giving your eyes a break from contact lenses during the night will reduce the risk of eye infection and encourage recovery from the strain of the day. If you prefer to leave your contacts in, carefully follow the instructions on the package and remove them as often as possible.