Is Sleep Good For The Eyes?
Most health professionals will tell you that it’s important to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. That any less could leave you feeling somewhat disconnected both mentally and physically. Unfortunately, as many as 40% of adults report that they get 6 hours of sleep per night on average, with many getting even less than that. It’s a somewhat startling statistic. Yet at the same time, in today’s hyper-connected economy where the sun never sets on the business cycle, it’s at least partially understandable. While the spectre of being not quite all there is disturbing enough, there’s another reason people should strive to get more sleep: it’s good for their eyes.
Your Eyes and Sleep
Getting 6 hours or less of sleep every night means your eyes are squeezing by on the absolute bare minimum amount of rest they need to adequately replenish themselves. So if you’re waking up after 5 hours of sleep and having a hard time keeping your eyes open now you know why. They probably need a couple of more hours to recover from the previous day’s computer screen marathon.
The Many Causes of Eye Fatigue
In a world where 9 to 5 seems like little more than a quaint memory, people are asking more of their eyes than ever before. They peer into their tiny smartphone screens, conduct business or school-related research, drive for hours each day, play video games and endure the aforementioned marathon sessions at the workstation. All of these activities put enormous strain on our eyes. And many are new to the 21st century. So it’s safe to say we’re in uncharted territory when it comes to eye strain. As such it’s more important than ever before that we give our eyes the time they need to recover.
How Does Sleeping Benefit Your Eyes?
First of all, the longer you sleep the less time your eyes have to spend focusing. Focusing works the myriad muscles in your eyes and the longer you spend focusing on specific objects the more likely you are to experience eye strain. Second, while you sleep your body is busy replenishing the various fluids it needs to function properly, including the supply of tears it uses to keep your eyes properly lubricated. Cutting short your sleep means you’re more likely to experience dry eyes. Finally, a well-rested eye is one that is less susceptible to burst blood vessels.
But What About REM?
Some folks think that Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep puts just as much strain on the eyes as focusing on a computer screen. It doesn’t. During REM sleep our eyes do move about. It’s true. However, since they’re not focusing on anything in particular (your eyelids are shut after all), this movement acts to stretch the muscles of the eye rather than strain them. It’s part of the recovery process and helps prepare your eyes for the coming day, especially if you're someone who requires contacts. Just like stretching before a run helps prepare your muscles for the strain you’re about to put on them.
So How Can I Get Enough Sleep?
One way to get more sleep is to fall asleep faster. Many folks, still worked up from their hectic day, lie in bed for some time before finally drifting off. To get to sleep faster try the following tricks:
- Don’t think about what you’re going to do tomorrow. Write it down then put it aside. It will help you feel more prepared and less stressed.
- Don’t take your phone to bed with you and stay up texting or updating your social media accounts.
- Take a hot bath before going to bed.
The importance of sleep to eye health can’t be overstated. Make sure you’re always getting as much sleep as possible. Your eyes will reap the benefits.