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5 Tips To Prevent Waking Up With Dry Eye in the Morning

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a man wakes up and rubs his eyes due to dry eye

Morning Dryness

After a good night’s sleep, you expect to feel refreshed and ready to face the day. Yet, when you struggle to open your eyes in the morning, it can make it that much harder to roll out of bed. There are many dry eye relief therapies you can use throughout the day. But what can you do to prevent morning dry eye?

The tips and tricks available depend on what’s causing your symptoms, from eye conditions like meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) to sleep issues like insomnia. Patients should discuss their dry eye symptoms during their routine eye exam to receive personalized advice. But you can get started with these 5 types to prevent waking up with dry eye.

1. Better Sleep Habits

Are your eyes dry or exhausted? Not getting enough sleep can contribute to feeling dry even when your tear film is healthy. Adults need an average of 7–9 hours of sleep. Generally, children or teens need a few more hours, while seniors need fewer. However, how much sleep you need can also depend on your individual health.

Healthy sleep has crucial benefits for multiple body functions. For example, sleep helps our eyes heal. Therefore, when you experience sleep deprivation, your eyes may produce fewer tears, resulting in dry or bloodshot eyes. 

Sleep also helps control excess inflammation. Eyelid inflammation can contribute to conditions that cause dry eye, including blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction.

About 5% of people sleep with their eyes partially or fully open. The condition is called nocturnal lagophthalmos and is a form of facial paralysis. It leads to morning dryness as the incomplete closure causes tears to evaporate too quickly. Depending on the severity of symptoms, patients may manage dryness with:

  • Eye drops, gels, or ointments
  • Medical-grade hypoallergenic tape (during sleep)
  • Surgical options, such as inserted gold eyelid weights

Limit the dry eye effects of computer use by putting your screen away before bedtime. The blue light emitted from digital screens can make it difficult to fall asleep. Instead, use night mode during the evening or make your bedroom a screen-free zone.

2. Hydrate More

Tears are 98% water, so when you’re dehydrated, it can affect tear production. During the day, you can quickly grab a glass of water or hydrate with water-rich food. Some people might reach for a glass of water on their bedside table when they experience nighttime thirst. But most people try to stay under the covers throughout the night.

You might try drinking a glass before you go to bed, but waking up for a bathroom break in the middle of the night can be disruptive. Instead, try integrating your hydration throughout the day. Drink water consistently, not just a gallon before bed.

Health experts recommend the 8×8 rule—drinking an 8-ounce glass 8 times daily. That’s about 2 litres or half a gallon. However, how much you need also depends on various factors, such as your health, activity level, diet, and environment.

When you’re feeling dehydrated or live somewhere with a dry climate, try adding an extra glass or 2 during the day to see if you wake up feeling refreshed.

a woman drinks water to hydrate to avoid dry eyes

3. Cleaning Your Eyelids

You already clean your face, but how well are you cleaning your eyelids? Eyelid hygiene is crucial for healthy eyes and functioning tear glands. 

Conditions like blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) can lead to clogged oil glands (meibomian glands). Without the oil component, tears evaporate too quickly to nourish the eye. 

Your optometrist can recommend an over-the-counter eyelid scrub. The gentle cleansing and massaging can remove excess bacteria and release oil clogged in the meibomian glands. Make it part of your nightly routine. You can also apply a warm compress before bed to help keep the oil glands open and improve oil flow while you rest.

Patients with chronic eyelid hygiene problems (including blepharitis) may also benefit from in-clinic cleaning treatment such as Blephex.

4. Eye Drops for Day & Night

Eye drops or artificial tears support your natural tear film and protect the eye’s surface. Many over-the-counter and prescription options are available. Using eye drops during the day can help relieve daytime symptoms, but it can also prevent nighttime symptoms.

How often you should use eye drops depends on the type. Artificial tears with low-viscosity or watery consistency can be used more often and are best for daytime use. High-viscosity drops are thicker with a gel-like texture. Patients can use the thicker eye drops less frequently.

High-viscosity eye drops can cause blurry vision. Generally, the gel-like drops are best for night use as you don’t need to complete any demanding visual tasks in your sleep. It can also help when you experience morning dryness as the dry eye relief is longer-lasting.

5. Adding A Humidifier

When your environment is dry, it can affect your body moisture, including your eyes. For example, using air conditioning or a fan at night might help you fall asleep in the heat, but it can contribute to dry eye. Adding a humidifier to your bedroom can help counteract the drying effects of AC by adding moisture to an area.

Humidifiers are also helpful for relieving other environmental dryness issues, including:

  • Cracked lips
  • Dry skin
  • Nose irritation
  • Sinus congestion
  • Headache
  • Dry throat

Dry Eye Relief

Waking up and feeling rested can make a big difference in how you feel throughout the day. No one should suffer from dryness or discomfort from the moment they open their eyes. Talk to your optometrist about your symptoms for dry eye treatment that works for your eye health and lifestyle.

Book an appointment with EyeZone Nevada today!

Written by Daniel Rowan

Reno optometrist, Dr. Daniel Rowan, was raised in Western Canada and attended Norwich University in Vermont on a hockey scholarship. After obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in both biology and sports medicine, he received his Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree from the New York College of Optometry in 2001. He performed rotations in a Queens VA hospital, specializing in glaucoma care, and an outpatient eye clinic in the Bronx. Immediately after graduating, he moved to Nevada and is now considered a top Reno optometrist. He is a member of the American Optometric Association and is board-certified by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry for the treatment and management of ocular diseases.
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