Sleeping with the Eyes Open

Our bodies operate on a 24 hour system where ideally we should have at least 6 hours of sleep for the average human to be productive. Well, in order to sleep, we all assume that our eyes need to be closed. But not everyone has the “luxury” or pleasure to actually experience this. Believe it or not about 20% of the world’s population sleep with their eyes open. The shock factor, including babies!!!! Although, scary to imagine this condition can cause serious damage to an individual’s life.

This condition is referred to as Nocturnal lagophthalmos. “Which is the inability to close the eyelids during sleep. Lagophthalmos is associated with exposure keratopathy, poor sleep, and persistent exposure-related symptoms. There are a variety of causes of lagophthalmos, grouped as proptosis/eye exposure etiologies and palpebral insufficiency etiologies.” Dr. Robert L Latkany.

Over time, nocturnal lagophthalmos may damage the cornea from persistent dryness, a condition called keratitis. This also increases the risk of corneal ulcers, perforation, and vision loss,” Dr. Abhinav Singh, Sleep Physician.

Closing your eyes is important as this clams your mind, relaxes your muscles and organs. When you rest your eyes, you essentially tell your body it’s safe and can take a break from focusing or thinking. “while we’re awake, all of our neurons are constantly firing, but that when we’re asleep, the neurons revert to an ‘up-and-down’ state in which only some are active at a given time” and that “during some stages of sleep, all neuron activity goes silent.” When you rest your eyes, the neurons will never go completely silent, but they do actually take a break and reduce stress,” Dr. Chiara Cirelli, a neuroscientist.

The Nocturnal lagophthalmos condition is however treatable using various medical approaches. How do you sleep eyes open or closed?


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