The mere mention that March is National Bed Month made us all quite sleepy here at Eye Academy. And it’s not surprising because perennial tiredness is a modern ailment that afflicts most of us. Life is just so busy; it doesn't feel like you have time to stop and pause for a minute, let alone get a proper nights sleep.
It goes without saying that getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your health. It is particularly important for good eye health, especially with all of the screen time our eyes have to contend with these days. Studies have shown that eyes need at least five hours’ sleep a night to fully replenish.
Here’s what happens when you do get enough shuteye:
- The natural lipid layer protecting the eye, which weakens and dries out throughout the day, is restored ready to keep your eyes hydrated for another day.
- The muscles in and around your eyes finally have the chance to relax and recover. They spend the entire day constantly working and need a period of recuperation.
- Getting enough sleep helps your body produce the hormones that keep your skin healthy and thick. And strong skin around the eye has good elasticity, which is much less likely to wrinkle.
Here’s what can happen when you don’t get enough sleep:
- Eye spasms and involuntary twitches.
- Dry eye, which, aside from being uncomfortable, can result in light sensitivity, blurriness and increased susceptibility to infection.
- Dark circles and bags around the eyes caused by blood and fluid retention.
- Burst blood vessels in the eye, which are not usually painful, but are not a great look.
- Increased eyestrain, especially for those who use a screen at work, do lots of reading or who drive a lot. Without enough sleep, your eyes cannot recuperate.
- Rare eye conditions can also result from lack of sleep, like Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (AION), which is associated with those who suffer from sleep apnoea and can lead to vision loss.
Ten tips for getting a good night’s sleep
- Regulate your body clock by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
- Implement a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual, avoiding bright lights and other stimuli.
- Cut out the power naps, and daytime dozes, especially in the afternoon.
- Do some exercise – vigorously is best, but anything is better than nothing.
- Get your bedroom sleep-ready. It should be cool, quiet and dark so think about humidifiers, blackout shades and earplugs if necessary.
- Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable. Mattresses have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years.
- Regulate your circadian rhythms by exposing yourself to sunlight in the morning and avoiding bright lights in the evening.
- Avoid stimulants like alcohol, cigarettes and coffee, as well as large meals within two or three hours of bedtime, which can cause discomfort.
- Wind down before going to bed and shift into sleep mode. This might involve avoiding the blue light emanating from laptops and tablets.
- If you cannot sleep, get up and go into another room to do something relaxing until you do feel tired.
If you experience any of the symptoms of tired eyes, talk to your optician at your next eye examination. Alternatively, you can drop into your nearest Eye Academy and book your appointment today.