Someone who is not getting enough sleep is easy to spot as they often have thick, swollen or puffy eyes, drooping eyelids and dark circles under the eyes, which in most instances are the clear indicators of a bad night’s sleep.
However, a lack of sleep definitely has an impact on more than your physical appearance. Sleep is critical to your overall health and well-being. Skimping on beauty sleep has ramifications for your brain activity, mood, metabolism, memory and daily motivation, but it also has an impact on the health of your eyes. Vision changes, such as weakening eyesight, are typical of the ageing process in humans, but a lack of sleep can also induce eye strain.
How much sleep do I need?
The amount of sleep required by any individual to function efficiently throughout the day is greatly determined by their overall health, age, lifestyle and level of activity, but experts reckon between seven to eight hours a night is sufficient to wake up refreshed and rested. However, too little sleep, and too much digital screen time, on the other hand, might cause eye problems that can impair your eyesight in the long run.
Forget the proverbial ‘apple a day’, because in addition to eating a healthy and balanced meal, and water intake, sleep is one of the most important aspects for optimal brain function. However, too little or too much sleep a few times may not blind you, but eye strain due to a lack of sleep, can in itself lead to other medical problems such as headaches and nausea.
Your eyes, like the rest of your body and your brain, heal themselves while you sleep. Sleep deprivation can result in bloodshot itchy and dry eyes. After a night of little sleep, the eyes may also produce fewer tears, which could lead to eye infections.
When does it become a serious problem?
When you don’t get enough sleep, you may have spasms or eye twitches and your eyesight may become blurry. Your eyes may also be more sensitive to light, but the bottom line is that over an extended period of time, sleep deprivation can lead to significant eye disorders such as glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a disease that can cause visual loss. People who experience sleep apnea (a sleep disorder) are more likely to acquire glaucoma. During a routine eye exam, eye specialists may be able to detect indicators of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be detected by changes in your eyesight, retina and eyelids. Many of the eye-related symptoms are reversible when sleep apnea is detected early and addressed appropriately.
Allow your eyes to rest and recuperate by making sure you get a good amount of sleep tonight, but if you are experiencing insomnia for some reason, you should visit a doctor for the right treatment. Also, have your eyes examined by an eye doctor regularly and make sure that your prescription lenses, if you wear reading glasses, are still up to date and functional.
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