We all know the familiar feeling: the alarm goes off and we think there must be some mistake. It can’t be time to get up already! We get out of bed with bleary eyes and attempt to get ourselves ready for the day ahead. After a while the fog begins to clear (perhaps after a morning shot of coffee) and we’re ready for the day ahead.
However, does tiredness and lack of quality sleep have a direct effect on the health of our eyes?
How Tiredness Affects Your Eyes
Tiredness can have a direct effect on our mood, energy and productivity at work (Download STL’s helpful infographic about being productive while tired at work: Stay Productive At Work ) or at home. However, it also contributes to symptoms of Eye Fatigue. If you are suffering with eye fatigue, some the symptoms you can expect include:
- Irritated or sore eyes
- Dry/Watery eyes
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Blurred or double-vision
- Difficulty focusing
How does a restful sleep help my eyes feel better?
Did you know that you actually go through 5 different stages of sleep? One of these stages is called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, and during this stage our eyes move quickly in different directions. These rapid, ballistic eye movements are called saccades and are able to reach angular speeds of 900 degrees per second. These are the fastest recorded movements made by the human body.
Even though your eyes make these movements during REM sleep, sleeping actually helps the overworked eye muscles to relax. Your eyes are also replenished with nutrients that are essential for their health, and help reduce irritation and dry or watery eyes.
The most effective way to help combat eye fatigue is to get more restful sleep. There are also different types of eye drops and supplements available, which can help with the symptoms of irritated or dry eyes.
Some Tips To Help You Sleep
Experts recommend that we maintain a regular sleep pattern and routine. Here is a list of some things (from the Sleep Foundation) that we can do to establishing a healthy sleep routine:
- Get plenty of Exercise – Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
- Stick to a sleep schedule – have the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
- If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps – Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.
- Evaluate your room – Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light. Check your room for noises or other distractions. This includes a bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows – Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you and objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up
Some recent studies have also shown that exposure to blue light technology, which comes from your smart phone or tablet, cuts the production of melatonin, which is a natural hormone that helps maintain healthy cycles of sleep and wakefulness. Advice? don’t look at your device for an hour before you go to bed!
If you find that you are struggling daily with Eye Fatigue and irritation, make an appointment with your local Optometrist for a comprehensive eye check-up. The strain may be related to other underlying conditions, or if you wear prescription glasses or lenses, may be an indication that you need a new prescription.
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