dry eyes at night

What Are the Causes of Dry Eyes at Night?

Whether you are a night owl or a sleep enthusiast, you may have been tossing and turning only to wake up with eyes that feel drier than the Sahara.  If you're nodding along you're not alone. Welcome to the perplexing world of dry eyes at night.

Ironically, dry eyes at night can be caused by reduced blinking during the day, too much screen time, and poor diet; all of which lead to inadequate lubrication of the ocular surface. Conditions such as lagophthalmos and floppy eyelid syndrome can prevent the eyes from closing at night and eyelids flipping over during sleep. 

In addition, factors such as dry indoor air, the use of ceiling fans, and even certain medications can exacerbate nighttime dryness. Maintaining proper hydration, using eye drops and ointments at bedtime, and a special type of sleep mask can all alleviate discomfort.

Dry eyes at night are a common problem, affecting millions of people. We're diving deep into the causes and solutions for dry eyes while sleeping so you can finally wake up feeling refreshed and ready to conquer your day.

What Causes Dry Eyes at Night?

why do my eyes get dry at night

Let's get to the heart of the matter: what exactly triggers this bothersome phenomenon? Here are a couple of culprits to consider:

1. Decreased Blinking During the Day

Humans were designed to blink their eyes 12-15 times per minute.  In our screen driven society, the reality is we’re lucky to blink 2-3 times per minute.  When the oil producing glands in the eyelids don’t get pumped with enough blinks, the ocular surface drys out and cannot be refreshed at night.

2. Indoor Environment

Ah, the comforts of modern living—central heating, air conditioning, and ceiling fans. While these creature comforts make our nights more pleasant, they also contribute to dry eyes. Indoor air happens to be drier, which can zap moisture from our eyes as we sleep.  And ceiling fans force that dry air right on to the ocular surface.  Not exactly a recipe for rested peepers.

3. Digital Devices and Screen Time

Guilty of scrolling through your smartphone before bedtime? You're not alone. Unfortunately, the blue light emitted by screens can disrupt our sleep patterns and exacerbate dry eye symptoms.

Reality check: Let's be honest, who doesn't spend a good chunk of their evening glued to screens? All that staring can decrease your blink rate, leading to dry, irritated eyes.  Refer back to point number 1 above.

4. Medications

Certain medications, from antihistamines and decongestants to antidepressants and blood pressure medications can have a drying effect on the eyes. If you're popping pills before bedtime, they might be to blame for your nocturnal dryness.  Some medications are better suited for morning dosing.

Now, onto the good stuff: how to prevent dry eyes while sleeping! 

How to Prevent Dry Eyes While Sleeping

dry eyes sleeping

Now that we've identified some problem creators, let's talk about how to thwart their dastardly plans. Here are some tips to keep your eyes feeling refreshed and rejuvenated throughout the night:

1. Humidify Your Environment 

Invest in a humidifier that adds moisture to the air in your bedroom. This can help combat dryness caused by indoor heating and air conditioning.  If you sleep with a ceiling fan on at night, use a sleep mask that allows for REM sleep blinking beneath.  Alternatively, Optase Drops or Hylonight Ointment can be used for those preferring not to sleep with a mask.  

2. Take Screen Breaks

Make a conscious effort to limit your screen time before bedtime. Put away your devices at least one hour before hitting the hay to give your eyes a chance to relax.

3. Stay Hydrated

When thirsty, drink water throughout the day to keep your body—and your eyes—properly hydrated.  Carbonated waters and mineral waters are fine.  Avoid sodas, juices, and caffeinated beverages, all of which can dry you out. 

Eat a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, such as wild-caught fatty fish and grass-fed fatty beef.  The more butter the better.  Bacon is good for you!  Avoid Omega 6 rich foods such as processed foods, farmed fish, and grain-fed beef.  Avoid anything containing seed oils.

4. Eyelid Hygiene

Eyelids can be cleansed with a hypochlorous solution, Pure and Clean at night.  Pure and Clean kills bacteria that can overgrow around the eyelids while simultaneously healing cells on the surface of the eyes.  It can even be squirted directly into the eyes for dry eye relief! 

5. Warm Compresses

Invest in an Optase Heat Mask to introduce controlled warm moist heat to your closed eyelids for a few minutes before bed. This can help loosen clogged oil glands and improve tear flow.  Important note… if you suffer from rosacea… skip this step!  Heat exacerbates rosacea.

6. Consult Your Optometric Physician

If dry eyes persist despite your best efforts, it's time to seek professional help. Your optometric physician can recommend tailored treatments and lifestyle modifications after your dry eye evaluation (hyperlink to schedule here) to alleviate your symptoms.

Dry eyes at night may be a common eye concern, but armed with the right knowledge and strategies, you can banish discomfort and enjoy restful slumber once more. 

Wrapping Up

Remember, if your dry eyes are severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms such as redness, pain, or blurry vision, it's important to consult an optometric physician who specializes in dry eye therapies.

These are the experienced pros who can diagnose the underlying cause of dry eye and recommend the most appropriate treatment plan for you.

Taking care of your eyes is critical for maintaining good vision and overall well-being. By implementing these tips and seeking professional guidance when needed you can say goodbye to dry eyes at night and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to see the world clearly!

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