Sleeping With Eyes Open

Up to 10% of the population sleeps with their eyes open or partially open. They don’t actually see and recognize what’s going on in front of them and it sure acts to creep other people out.

Medically known as nocturnal lagophthalmos, sleeping with your eyes open can be a temporary or permanent condition. Baby’s sometimes sleep with their eyes open but usually outgrown this around their first year or so.

Some people can only close their eyes part way when the blink during the day so a part of their eye dries out. They have to use eye drops to keep their eyes lubricated.

While sleepwalkers are going about their nightly rounds, they too are sleeping with their eyes open, although their brain isn’t really registering what is going on around them.

The real problem occurs when the eyes are left open regularly during sleep. The tears that are used to lubricate their eyes evaporate and the eyes dry out. Tears are used by the eyes to lubricate and to wash away debris like dust or pollen and they help kill off any bacteria that you may have been exposed to during the day.

Some of the problems that can develop include:

  • Poor, shortened sleep due to sore and dry eyes
  • Dust, dirt and other eye irritations are not cleaned out during the night
  • Eyes can become inflamed
  • Dry spots may develop on the cornea
  • Blurred vision in the morning

Causes of Sleeping with Eyes Open include:

  • Bell’s Palsy – temporary loss of muscle control in the face
  • Surgery
  • Stroke
  • Infection
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Orbicularis muscle of your eyelid not functioning properly
  • Runs in families
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Face trauma from an accident

Treatments of sleeping with your eyes open must first involve treating any underlying condition that may be causing the problem. Some people wear a protective mask or eye patch to keep their eyes closed and others have used special medical tape to keep the eyelids shut. As a last resort to correct muscular damage, surgery has been used to implant weights to help hold down the eyelid.

Do you know someone who sleeps with their eyes open? Leave a comment below.

 

About Bob Colley

I had been battling sleepless nights for decades. After reading hundreds of books, articles and talking with people I’ve improved the quality my sleep tremendously and have decided to share what I have learned with others in this blog.
This entry was posted in 3.0 Medical Complications and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Sleeping With Eyes Open

  1. Pingback: Sleep Glossary | Sleep Junkie

  2. Marie says:

    My parents say I sleep with my eyes wide opened alot…..it creeps them out and they don’t wanna close them cuz they feel creeped out even more.

  3. Bob Colley says:

    It can freak some people out.

    Do your eyes ever dry out?

  4. Monica says:

    My sister is sleeping with one eye open right at this moment… it creeped me out so I looked it up to see what I can do about it!

  5. Bob Colley says:

    It is weird for other people to view someone who is sleeping with one or both eyes open, but unless it is causing problems for the sleeper, there is nothing you can do to help.

  6. JR says:

    *Runs in families

    Should be changed to:

    *Genetics

  7. Mpho says:

    Both of my kids sleep with their eyes half open. Their ages are 16 yrs and 5 yrs.

  8. Bob Colley says:

    If their eyes don’t dry out and bother them, then don’t worry about it. It’s more creepy for other people to see them sleeping with their eyes open than for the people who do it.

  9. J says:

    I was at my brothers house and a guest that was there had a weird.. Episode or something.

    He was sitting on a stool in the kitchen, and said ” I think I need to sit down” and got up and sat on the couch. That was a little weird as he was already sitting, but he said he was feeling normal.

    Some time went on and I heard some snoring and I looked over to see that he seemed to be sleeping with his eyes wide awake. My brothers room mate who I was with didn’t seem to notice because he was paying attention to the dog. The roommate then made a loud noise, which I assume startled the guest, causing him to throw his arms up in the air and sort of thrash about. I’m not sure if it was like a sleep paralysis thing or a seizure but I couldn’t find much about it anywhere

  10. J says:

    I was at my brothers house and a guest that was there had a weird.. Episode or something.

    He was sitting on a stool in the kitchen, and said ” I think I need to sit down” and got up and sat on the couch. That was a little weird as he was already sitting, but he said he was feeling lightheaded.

    Some time went on and I heard some snoring and I looked over to see that he seemed to be sleeping with his eyes wide open. My brothers room mate who I was with didn’t seem to notice because he was paying attention to the dog. The roommate then made a loud noise, which I assume startled the guest, causing him to throw his arms up in the air and sort of thrash about. I’m not sure if it was like a sleep paralysis thing or a seizure but I couldn’t find much about it anywhere

  11. Joe says:

    I’m trying to learn how to sleep with my eyes open, as part of an L cosplay. I don’t plan on continuously sleeping in this fashion, so what are the short or long term health risks?

  12. Bob Colley says:

    Sudden sleep onset could be narcolepsy – falling asleep at inappropriate times.

  13. Bob Colley says:

    I don’t think you can “teach” yourself to sleep with your eyes open – short of taping them open. The biggest problems will be dry eyes, burning, redness and possible eye damage to due dehydration and dirt contamination.

    Fake the insomnia with makeup and eyeliner to emulate an anime character. Your eyes are too important.

  14. Arthur says:

    I have been told by mother and my wife that I sometimes sleep with my eyes partially or fully open. This has been going on since I was a young child, I’m now 62, and frightens people especially when I sleep on my back with my arms folded across my chest. I do occasionally have dry eyes when I wake, but no other ill effects.

  15. Bob Colley says:

    If your eyes are o.k, don’t worry about it. You could try wearing a sleep mask if it overly bothers others.

  16. FQY says:

    My husband and my two boys sleep with their eyes open. But only when they are in deep sleep, I think.

  17. Brian says:

    I have seen eye docs and my family doc about periodic inflamed eyes. 95+% of the time it’s one eye or the other (I’m thinking that this is due to having one side of my face buried in the pillow). Only part of the eye is red and if I open that eye wide the lid lines that do cover that eye are clear and normal. This all started when I shifted to sleeping on my sides in the late ’90s. In all the times that I’ve talked to docs about this issue, open eye sleeping has never been mentioned, but I’m convinced this is the problem.

    I think that stress contributes to this as it tends to pattern around stressful situations (job, family, we all deal differently). I can go weeks or longer without the single inflamed eye, and then I may have it happen once a week for three weeks in a row.

    Curious to see if there are others in the same boat.

  18. maria says:

    My 3yr old sleeps with her eyes partially open, it worries me that is something that will affect her eyes in the future. Nobody in my family or my husband’s sleep like. She has been sleeping like this for some time but not sure if it was since she was a baby…if I close her lids they will stay close for some minutes but than they open back up partially.

  19. Bob Colley says:

    Children often grow out of this. It shouldn’t be a problem.

  20. Roberta says:

    I was just diagnosed with severe Dry Eye. The doc said I must be sleeping with my eyes open. That’s just not true…I’ve slept fine for 42 yrs, never had dry eyes, why would I suddenly start sleeping with my eyes open? Also, my husband often suffers with insomnia and he said my eyes are always tightly shut…he’s never seen them open at all.

  21. Bob Colley says:

    Sometimes a person’s eyes produce less moisture than they should. Fell free to seek a 2nd opinion.

  22. mayemae says:

    I just found out that I sleep with my eyes open I was wondering if the reason was because I’m legally blind in one eye. I was born that way and I’m 20 now I was just curious if the cause could be vision

  23. Bob Colley says:

    I don’t believe they are related.

  24. Heatheranne says:

    Hello Everyone, My son asked me kindly with a large degree of urgent concern to research “sleeping with eyes open” as I enquired why I thought perhaps it was in jest. My response was really, truly; I sleep with my eyes open? My Son Jeovanni replied, Indeed, a lot. Handing me my mobile phone with many photos & video to prove. How very strange, peculiar, Bizarre and Yes quite “creepy”.The footage was very disturbing to to say the least. I am a beautiful woman, a retired model. I do not believe Bell Palsy could be present. But rather feel the condition may be correlated with Stress. I often feel sleep deprived. I awake tired with my eyes burning like crazy. I have a huge issue with TMJ particularly clenching my teeth & jaw during sleep & unconsciously while awake under stressful triggers. I believe the phonemes are related. Many articles are vauge as to direct underlying conditions. I shall continue to research cranial nerves disorders which control both Nocturnal Logophthalmas aka “Sleeping with Eyes open” and TMJ aka “Jaw clenching and teeth grinding.” To induce better sleep I have been using a night time sleeping scarf, an eye mask which gently covers eyes and I downloaded a free sleep app of sounds. I find the ocean/ Beach most soothing. The sound of the Gentle waves & wind produce the sensation of being rocked to sleep. Good Night, Sleep tight and Sweet Dreams. God Bless. Love, Heatheranne

  25. Summar Alsabiry says:

    My son sleeps with his left eye slighty open he has just turned 4 and has had problems with his left ear. He had a seizure last week and today found our hes got yet another ear infection (glue ear) and a burst ear drum.im not worried about his eye partially opening when hes asleep but thought id post on here as maby ear infection or ear noise or throte sores or in fact infections are linked.

  26. Derek says:

    Agreed haha, i sleep with my eyes half open and it’s been a lot more helpful than keeping them closed, i tend to listen to music and i’m able to sleep right through the night (without opening my eyes) otherwise, half open; even then, i don’t have problems. I don’t have dry eyes and better yet, for some reason or another, my mind always activates itself when something important is coming up (such as a hidden “silent” conversation in the family and they don’t want me to know about. [My twin sister's pregnancy at 20.])

  27. Kolapo says:

    What is d remedy for open eyes while sleepin?

  28. tru3 says:

    Wow, my entire family of 5 including myself sleep with our eyes open my oldest daughter and youngest actually look awake! … never thought it was a problem and it always freaks people out if they see it … i use to try to shut there eyes but they would just come back open. Eventually due to the drying of the eye they close them sometime during the night or if they turn over on tummys.-

  29. Kelsey says:

    I have slept with my eyes open since i was a baby. I really like your blog, it helped me understand why I slept with my eyes open!

  30. misozi says:

    Iny family we all sleep with our eyes open. My mom’s eyes a bit more than me and my brothers, it creeps people out .am so tired, oof being told I sleep with my eyes partially open, and being asked why I do that. Duh! It’s not like I want that , I also don’t know why.

  31. misozi says:

    In my family we all sleep with our eyes open. My mom’s eyes closes a bit more than me and my brothers, it creeps people out .am so tired, oof being told I sleep with my eyes partially open, and being asked why I do that. Duh! It’s not like I want that , I also don’t know why.