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.
Table of Contents
- 1. Why Do Some People Sleep with Their Eyes Open?
- 2. Why Is It Bad?
- 3. How to Treat Sleeping with Eyes Open?
- 4. Can You Sleep with Your Eyes Open?
- 5. How to Sleep with Eyes Open?
- 5.1. Find a Secluded Place
- 5.2. Relax
- 5.3. Concentrate on Breathing
- 5.4. Focus Your Eyes on Something
- 5.5. Clear Your Mind
- 5.6. Be Persistent
- 6. Conclusions
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.
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.
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. That’s because your eyelids closing provides tears and mucus to help the eyes stay moisturized.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
You’ll have to start taking intentional deep breaths. You can try the popular 4-7-8 breathing technique that supposedly induces relaxation. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Scientific ReferencesContributed 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'