Not getting enough sleep can not only make you feel fatigued and short-tempered, it can also lead to much more serious problems. Over time, lack of sleep can actually cause moderate to severe damage to your eyes. Keep reading to learn how you can keep your eyes healthy by sleeping better.
SCHEDULE YOUR SLEEP
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Your body repairs cells and rejuvenates itself while you’re sleeping, so when you don’t get enough sleep, your body can’t keep up with its own maintenance. Most people need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, and your eyes typically need five hours to refresh themselves. If you regularly get less than five hours of sleep per night, your eyes can start to deteriorate and show signs of strain like visible blood vessels. Make your nightly pillow time a priority.
CHECK YOUR MEDICATIONS
If you find dark circles under your eyes annoying, you’ll really be aggravated by eye spasms, which are another outcome of inadequate sleep. These won’t cause long-term damage to your eyes, but constant involuntary eye twitches can disrupt your concentration at work and get in the way of enjoying your personal time. If you experience symptoms like these, take a close look at your medications. Some prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause overstimulation or insomnia. Talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about side effects.
REDUCE SCREEN TIME BEFORE BED
When you combine lack of sleep with staring at computer or smartphone screens for hours on end, you may develop eye fatigue or eye strain. You typically blink less often when reading screens and monitors, which means you only refresh your eyes about half as often as necessary. This can strain your eyes and cause them to feel dry, irritated, or overly sensitive. Give yourself a break from the screen from time to time, especially before bed. Try to shut off your computer, tablet, and smartphone two hours before you plan to sleep to give your eyes and body time to relax.
STICK TO A NIGHTTIME RITUAL
People with severe sleep issues might have sleep apnea, a condition in which interruptions in your breathing cause you to awaken throughout the night. Many sleep apnea sufferers struggle to sleep deeply, which over time can increase your chances of developing glaucoma. This serious eye condition can lead to vision loss and blindness. No matter how badly you struggle to sleep, it’s usually easier when you follow a routine. Develop a nighttime ritual that works for you, whether it’s relaxing with a cup of herbal tea, reading a chapter from a book, or catching up on the news.
TRACK YOUR SLEEP
When obstructive sleep apnea issues persist over many years, it's possible for conditions like anterior ischemic optic neuropathy to arise. This can cause a lack of blood supply to your eye, which can result in tissue damage and vision loss. To stay healthy, track your sleep with a diary. Keep notes on how much you sleep each night, as well as the number of times you awoke and why. Discuss any serious concerns with your doctor. Don’t just let sleep happen. Your eyes and your body depend on it. Contact the Eye Doctor if you experience any eye conditions.