MyBestMattress is an independent, personal project. All the content on this website is free to use.
You can help keep the site free & unbiased by donating. Your support is highly appreciated!

Sleeping with Eyes Open: Should You Be Worried?

When thinking about sleep, you usually imagine shutting your eyes and slowly drifting off to rest on your comfortable bed. But it’s not the reality to some people out there. Some people, as weird as it could sound, are sleeping with eyes open. Or they sleep with one eye open

It’s not as good as it sounds, yes you may appear awake and manage to sneak in some nap time in social situations but eyelids naturally close for a reason, and sleeping with eyes open is not really healthy

So you might wonder why does it occur and what possible effects can it have on you. Continue reading to get answers to these questions, understand can you sleep with your eyes open, learn how to sleep with your eyes open, and many more. 

Patricia Celan

MD, Psychiatry Resident

Why so many people tend to experience difficulties sleeping?

The vast majority of sleep difficulties are caused by poor sleep habits and lifestyle choices. Our society has unfortunately created a culture around constant stimulation from screens, whether they are televisions, computers, tablets, or cell phones. The brightness from these screens makes it difficult to fall asleep and throws off circadian rhythms, yet the problem is pervasive in much of the world and is one of the top causes of sleep difficulties. Other reasons can include physical discomfort, stress, and lifestyle choices such as drinking coffee or exercising too close to bedtime.

Why Do Some People Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

It may sound attractive to some, but the real reasons for sleeping with eyes open are rather unpleasant. Usually, it occurs because of the facial nerve damage and inability to fully close your eyes. It’s called lagophthalmos[1].

Nocturnal lagophthalmos or sleeping with your eyes open, that’s caused by nerve damage, occurs because of many reasons. Some of them include paralysis, infections, stroke, surgery, or trauma, be it physical or emotional. All these are rather serious reasons that you wouldn’t want to come across to. 

sleeping with eyes open: man sleeping with an eye open

Furthermore, it’s not always sleeping with both of your eyes wide open. You may sleep with one eye open or eyes partially open. If any of these occur, you may qualify for nocturnal lagophthalmos.

Why Is It Bad?

You might wonder, why would sleeping with eyes open be an issue? Well, we naturally sleep with eyes closed for good reasons. Eyelids are here to protect your eyes from dust and all the other possible damage that could be caused if we kept our eyes open the whole time

Furthermore, blinking and having your eyes closed ensures that your eyes get lubricated. If you don’t blink for a longer period of time, you might notice that your eyes have dried out[2]. That’s because your eyelids closing provides tears and mucus to help the eyes stay moisturized.

sleeping with eyes open: red eyes

All these reasons might result in irritation, eye dryness, and infections. If you notice any of these signs upon waking up, you might need to monitor yourself sleeping or ask someone who had seen you sleep if they had noticed that you might sleep with your eyes open

How to Treat Sleeping with Eyes Open?

Sleeping with eyes open can be slightly disturbing and may cause some harm to your health. If you’re among the few people who have this condition, or if you have one eyelid’s damage when you sleep with one eye open, you may want to treat it.

There are a few ways to make your eyes close fully when you sleep or at least treat the negative effects it has on you

Using Fake Tears

One way to treat it is to fight the most prominent side effect of it - eye dryness. To do that you can use fake tears eye drops or special ointments upon waking up. This will relieve the itchiness of dry eyes and return the moisture.

Sleeping with Eyes Open

You may also use this method before you go to sleep. This way your sleep will be better since your eyes won’t dry out as soon. The eye moisture levels will be more similar to the one you’d have if you slept with your eyes closed.

Wearing an Eye Mask

Another thing you can do to ease the side effects of sleeping with your eyes open is wearing a sleep mask. Think about it this way, your eyelids' main function is to cover your eyes. It acts as a protection from dust and all the other small particles that could harm your eyes while you sleep.

So, why not try to replicate that? An eye-covering sleep mask could help to fight eye irritation caused by external factors. So, if you’re one of the rather few people sleeping with eyes open, you might consider using this method to protect your eyes while you sleep


One of the more drastic things you could do is have surgery. Usually, sleeping with eyes open is caused by nerve damage due to various illnesses. Surgery can sometimes help correct the nerve damage.

As mentioned before, many different medical conditions can cause sleeping with eyes open. And what you have to do first is get tested for them. When you figure out the cause, you may start treating it or consider surgery.

sleeping with eyes open: discussing surgery

If you’re planning to have surgery, you have to understand the seriousness of this step. The surgery will be conducted to help the nerve damage an illness has caused. You should consult a doctor first and they’ll be able to help you evaluate the situation. 


Another surgical step that’s popular when it comes to treating sleeping with eyes open is implants. You could have golden weighted implants inserted in your eyelids. That’s done for adding extra weight to your eyelids so they close naturally due to gravity pulling the heavier weight down.

This method also shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you want to ease your sleeping with eyes open this way, you’d better contact your doctor and talk to them about this option first. 

Can You Sleep with Your Eyes Open?

Having talked about naturally occurring sleeping with eyes open, we should talk about the question of “can you sleep with your eyes open by will?”. Let’s say you want to sleep in public without being noticed. Then you might hope you could sleep with your eyes open.

sleeping with eyes open: sleepy in a classroom

Although it’s rather controversial and some say it’s impossible to do willingly, it is believed that you might mimic a state of sleep still having your eyes open.

So, let’s discuss how you could do that. 

How to Sleep with Eyes Open?

So, having read all this you still want to try to sleep with your eyes open. It’s quite easy to understand, sometimes you just really need a nap but you can’t be noticed doing that. Maybe your class is boring you, or maybe you had to attend a conference that seems to be going on for ages having had very little sleep the night before.

All these reasons and many more may create the need for you to sleep in public unnoticed. Find out how to do exactly that in these few steps. But don’t expect to reach deep sleep stages trying out this method. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to get good quality sleep while sleeping with eyes open

Find a Secluded Place

Despite the fact that you’re planning to sleep with eyes open, people may still notice that you’re not responsive. To avoid that you should find a place where you won’t attract much attention dozing off.

sleeping with eyes open: sitting in the back

If you’re in a classroom or a conference you’d better sit in the back, or if you’re in an office you should search for a lesser frequented place

Latest Saatva Coupon Found:


What you have to do then if you want to know how to sleep with your eyes open is relax. This step, just like while falling asleep the conventional way, is greatly important. Your body needs to feel comfortable and you shouldn’t feel tense if you want to fall asleep.

Relax all your muscles to prepare your body for sleep. You could practice that beforehand by doing guided meditations. This way you’ll learn how to relax your muscles efficiently and be ready when it comes to trying to sleep with your eyes open. 

Compare Mattresses Side by Side With Others

Did you know?

Have you ever wondered which mattresses are approved as the best for sleep?

See & compare TOP mattresses side by side

Concentrate on Breathing

Continue your relaxation with breathing exercises. There’s a reason why breathing exercises are incorporated in many relaxation techniques. They usually work. If you want to try sleeping with your eyes open you should further your relaxation and concentrate on your breathing

sleeping with eyes open: breathing exercises

You’ll have to start taking intentional deep breaths. You can try the popular 4-7-8 breathing technique that supposedly induces relaxation[3]. What you have to do is inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath in for 7 seconds, and then breathe out for 8 seconds. That will help you relax and get ready for your sleep

Focus Your Eyes on Something

Having relaxed your body, now you need to work on your eyes. What you have to do is focus your eyes on one spot. You might know this sensation when you rest your eyes on one spot, feeling comfortably dozed off without wanting to move them. That’s what you want to achieve here.

Find a place to look at which feels comfortable for you and doesn’t look weird to those who might see you. If you’re in a classroom or a similar setting, you should try looking at the board or the presentation being presented or the teacher. This way you’ll look interested in what’s going on around you. 

Clear Your Mind

You’ve taken care of your gaze and your body, what now? Well, you can’t forget about your mind. It has to be relaxed as well if you want to try sleeping with eyes open. You should try to mimic what you do before you sleep at night.

Try daydreaming. Although it shouldn’t be too elaborate or attention-demanding. Your thoughts should flow easily and in a relaxed manner. Try to not concentrate on anything specific, simply relax your mind.

sleeping with eyes open: woman meditating

You might also try meditation techniques. Focus on your breathing and try to not concern yourself with ongoing matters in your life. Just remember to keep your eyes open the whole time

Be Persistent 

Sleeping with eyes open is a really hard thing to do. Instinctually, we tend to close our eyes and fall asleep. It might be hard to fight this instinct. But some people say it’s possible. You might not succeed at first, or you might discover that you find it impossible and it’s not for you.

But if you really want to do that you should keep trying. Although you shouldn’t expect to get as good quality of sleep as you do during your shut-eye state. This will most probably feel totally different than conventional nap time. 


Sleeping with eyes open is a condition that’s called nocturnal lagophthalmos. It usually occurs when you have damaged nerves in your face due to various medical reasons such as trauma, surgery, stroke, paralysis or other causes. The signals that you might have it may be that you sleep with one eye open, or both of them fully or partially open

It has plenty of negative effects on your body. The most common ones include eye dryness and irritation. These are the first things you’d feel if you experienced sleeping with eyes open. Also, you may not get such a good quality of sleep this way.

You may try to prevent it by using eye drops or ointments or covering your with a sleep mask to prevent external damage. Although if it’s a more serious case, you might opt for nerve surgery or implants. That way you wouldn’t be sleeping with eyes open anymore and would’ve fought the cause of nocturnal lagophthalmos. 

sleeping with eyes open: eye drops

Although some people may want to train themselves to sleep with eyes open. To do that you need to relax your muscles and mind, and focus your eyes comfortably. Then you might be able to experience sleeping with eyes open

While it might be beneficial at times, sleeping with eyes open isn’t the best way to go. You won’t get a good quality of sleep if you sleep with eyes open. Sleep is extremely important for your health and you need to ensure that you get high-quality sleep. To do that you need to take care of your sleeping environment.

One of the best ways to take care of your sleeping environment is by investing in a comfortable mattress. You should choose one carefully to make sure you sleep comfortably. If you’re looking for a new mattress check out our best mattresses guide, to choose the one that suits you best

Patricia Celan

MD, Psychiatry Resident

Contributed By Patricia Celan, MD, Psychiatry Resident

Patricia is a post-graduate trainee in psychiatry, working in diagnosing and treating patients with psychiatric conditions. She is passionate about psychotherapy, especially in trauma, anxiety, and...

Read Full Bio...

Scientific References

Contributed by Patricia Celan, MD, Psychiatry Resident

1. Pereira M., Glória A. 'Lagophthalmos'

2. Messmer E. 'The Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Dry Eye Disease'

3. Perciavalle V., Blandini M., Fecarotta P. 'The role of deep breathing on stress'

Leave your honest feedback

Leave your genuine opinion & help thousands of people to choose the best mattress. All feedback, either positive or negative, are accepted as long as they’re honest. We do not publish biased feedback or spam. So if you want to share your experience, opinion or give advice - the scene is yours!

TOP3 Most Popular Coupon Codes


UP TO $500 OFF

Limited-time Saatva Sale

GET UP TO $1,250 OFF

WinkBeds Limited-Time Offer


Limited-time Leesa Mattress Coupon

Recent User Reviews

Doesn't affect me

I'm 40 and have done this since day 1. Other than freaking some folks along the way it doesn't affect a thing and isn't indicative of anything harmful.

Eew! Creepy!

Pretty creepy. I always freak out when seeing someone sleeping with their eyes open thinking that they might be dead.

Always freaks me out

My twins both do this and it catches me off guard every time I see it.

Sleep masks work

People can sleep with eyes open. I do, and, at worst, it makes me wake up more frequently during the night unless I am in a very dark room or am wearing a sleep mask over my eyes.


This makes a lot of sense now. Thank you! :)

Only when extremely tired!

I do this and so does my daughter. Only when we are super duper tired, it's like we fall asleep and forget to close our eyes.

Used to be a problem

I used to sleep with my eyes open and my wife will just wake me up because it freaks her out. Doesn't happen super often anymore, but it always makes me grumpy to be woken up for something I can't control.

I'd stay awake

I've fallen asleep with my eyes open before, but only when I was dead tired and was trying to stay awake. I told myself that if I kept my eyes open, I'd stay awake, but nope!

Hate it!

I just hate it when people sleep with eyes open. It’s creepy...

Good Listener, LMAO

Once I met this girl. She was talking non-stop. I felt asleep eyes wide open! Next morning she was all "youre so a listener. I like you alot, etc".


it sounds really scary:D


Hopefully, I won't need a surgery

It was horrible

I slept with my eyes open once. Eyes hurt like hell when I was woken up. Very dry and sore

Happens sometimes

I've had this all my life. It doesn't happen daily or anything, just sometimes, enough that people notice it.

knock it off :(

My entire life I have been consistently told to knock it the hell off, because I sometimes sleep with my eyes semi-open. Obviously not on purpose.


I used to have this problem. I used auto-hypnosis to fix it. It never came back...

my own experience :)

when I sleep my eyes tend to be open slightly. I can't see anything because my eyes roll back reflexively when I shut my eyes.

trying to master it

Worth trying to master it

she told me

my mom once told me I had slept with eyes closed on the backseat of the car, but I didn't feel any notable difference - Now I know why.

When exhausted

I've been told I do this since I was a kid. It seems to happen more often if I'm extremely exhausted though.


Does sleeping with eyes open impact your sleep quality?

Yes, sleeping with eyes open, has a negative impact on your sleep quality.. You have to make sure you get high-quality sleep in order to remain healthy. To do that, you need to take care of your sleeping environment. The easiest step to take is making sure your mattress is comfortable. if you're looking for a new one, check out our best mattresses guide .

Is sleeping with eyes open as effective as sleeping with eyes closed?

If what you're doing is trying to sleep with eyes open on purpose, then you probably won't reach a deep sleep stage or even feel rested after that . If you want to learn more about sleep stages, check out our article explaining them . .

What is a memory foam mattress?

Memory foam mattresses are created mostly from polyurethane and have additional chemicals added that increase its viscosity and density. It’s also often called “viscoelastic polyurethane foam”. In order to create the air movement and let your body “breath” while you sleep, it has open foam bubbles. Memory foam mattresses are created in a way to adapt to your body curves and to also recover their original shape after you get up. Therefore, this kind of top mattresses offer you the feeling as if is created specifically for you.

Do top rated mattresses offer a money-back guarantee? Is there a catch?

All of the top mattress brands offer a money-back guarantee. The free trial usually starts from 90 to 100 nights, and if you don’t like the mattress, you can simply give it back. The majority of best mattress providers will not only give your money back but will also come to get it for free. If the mattress provider is reputable, there won’t be any catch - everyone understands that you have to try the mattress before knowing if it fits you.

What is off-gassing? Is it poisonous?

Off-gassing refers to the odor which comes from a new mattress. It’s the process that happens when volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) leak out of the mattress foam into the air. Those chemicals include both human-made and natural components, including formaldehyde, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), benzene, trichloroethane, and perfluorocarbons. Top rated mattresses will have zero or very minimal off-gassing. Many of them are sent to the customer already after the off-gassing. Is it dangerous, though? Even though the smell can be unpleasant, there’s usually only a very small amount of chemicals that can do no harm to your health.

How long do top rated mattresses serve?

The durability of a mattress depends on the provider and the quality of the materials used. Usually, you get a 10-year warranty, which will be valid in case of any defects. Normally, mattresses will serve you from 7 to 10 years, or even longer. Thus, when you buy the best mattress, you should take it as a long-term investment.