LivingIs it possible to sleep with your eyes open?

Is it possible to sleep with your eyes open?

People who sleep with their eyes open may wake up feeling that their eyes are dry and gritty. It may seem like a pretty strange habit, but the truth is that it is quite common.

The medical term for sleeping with your eyes open is nocturnal lagophthalmos. Up to 20% of people around the world are affected by this eye condition. One of the reasons it occurs is due to problems with the facial nerves or muscles that make it difficult to keep the eyes completely closed. It can also occur from something related to the skin around the eyelids.


– redness
– blurry vision
– irritation or burning sensation
– sensitivity to light
– feel as if something is inside the eye
poor quality of sleep

Most people find that they have slept with their eyes open because someone else tells them they have.

What are the treatment options?

There are several treatment options: eye drops, artificial tears, or eye ointments to help prevent scratches. Sleeping with a humidifier in the bedroom can also keep the surrounding air moist and your eyes are less likely to dry out. Applying surgical tape to the eyelids also serves the same purpose. Another option is surgery, although it is only recommended for very serious cases.

What causes lagophthalmia?

Sleeping with your eyes open is usually due to a problem with your facial muscles, nerves, or the skin around your eyelids. Paralysis or weakening of the muscle that closes the eyelids, known as orbicularis oculi , can cause someone to sleep with their eyes open.

Medical conditions that can cause muscle weakness or facial nerve paralysis include:

– bell’s palsy
– tumors
– autoimmune diseases, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome
– a rare neurological condition called Moebius syndrome that affects the muscles that control eye and face movement

Traumas, injuries, or surgery can also cause damage and paralysis to facial muscles and nerves.

Infections can be less common causes, and these can include: Lyme disease, mumps, chickenpox, polio, leprosy, diphtheria, and botulism.

Having very thick upper or lower lashes can also prevent the eyelid from closing completely, although this is rare.

There is not always an underlying reason or condition that causes nocturnal lagophthalmos. It can also be genetic.

Is it bad for vision?

Serious problems can occur if the eyes become dry or dehydrated. These include: loss of vision, eye infections, risk of scratching the eye, exposure keratopathy where the outermost layer or cornea is damaged, or corneal ulcer where an open sore develops on the cornea.

How does it affect the quality of sleep?

Nocturnal lagophthalmos is linked to reduced quality of sleep. The affected person may not sleep as long or as well due to pain and discomfort caused by dry eyes throughout the night. If you suspect that this may be your case, go immediately to a doctor, who will help you find the appropriate treatment.

People who sleep with their eyes open rarely experience serious complications or eye damage. However, if left untreated for a long period of time, the risk of serious damage to the eyes increases and can lead to vision loss.


Referencia: National Sleep Foundation.


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