How to Sleep With Eyes Open in 5 Easy Steps

While you certainly don’t want to make it a habit, learning how to sleep with eyes open is a skill that can benefit you.

If you’re like most people who live a hectic lifestyle, squeezing in a short nap is an impossible dream.

However, if you know the trick, you can take advantage of those dull, unproductive moments like your commute to work or long meetings and turn them into a restful slumber.

If you know how to sleep with your eyes open, you can get a good nap when you need to, without getting caught!

Who Can Actually Sleep With Their Eyes Wide Open?

“Can you sleep with your eyes open?”

Maybe it was just a weird idea that came across your mind while you were desperately wanting to snooze.

You could be laughing inside because you now find yourself browsing the web for answers.

The answer is yes.

Well, not just a plain yes. It’s a little more complicated than you think.

Let’s begin by saying that about 10-20 percent of the human population can actually sleep with their eyes open.

However, it isn’t a superpower or a special ability endowed to them.

The truth is - effortlessly sleeping with eyes open is a disorder.

Doctors call it “nocturnal lagophthalmos”. This condition is caused by problems or abnormalities in the face that prevent the eyelids from closing.

People with nocturnal lagophthalmos can usually close their eyes most of the way, but not completely.

What Does It Mean When Someone Sleeps With Their Eyes Open?

What does it mean when someone sleeps with their eyes open, man in bed with eyes wide open

Unless they intentionally do it, people who sleep with their eyes open are most likely suffering from nocturnal lagophthalmos.

While it won’t keep someone from falling asleep, the inability to close the eyelids can cause serious harm to the eyes.

These are the most common issues associated with the condition:

  • Dryness. One of the most important benefits of blinking is it keeps your eyes lubricated. Sleeping with your eyes wide open can cause itchiness, burning sensation, and discomfort.
  • Blurry vision. Nocturnal lagophthalmos puts a lot of strain on your eyes, affecting your vision. This symptom occurs especially after waking up.
  • Sensitivity. People who sleep with their eyes open often feel that something is stuck in their eyes. It gets really uncomfortable that they also tend to become highly sensitive to light.
  • Poor sleep quality. All the above issues can make sleeping troublesome.

There are several reasons why a person can develop nocturnal lagophthalmos.

Often, it is caused by an underlying illness, such as diabetes, tumor, thyroid disease, and viral or bacterial infection. Thus, this condition might be temporary and eases as the patient recovers.

In other cases, nocturnal lagophthalmos results from injury or abnormality in the nerves of the face.

Is It Possible to Sleep With Eyes Open?

Can you sleep with your eyes open if you’re a healthy individual?

If you don’t have nocturnal lagophthalmos, sleeping with your eyes open is difficult but not impossible.

You may have some good reasons why you want to try it besides being curious about it.

Maybe you badly want to squeeze in a nap during a very hectic and stressful day. Or you just want to ease your mind from negative thoughts and relax completely.

Maybe you’re a student who lacks sleep and you wish you can sleep while your professor gives a lecture. Surely, you don’t want anyone to notice you!

If you’re a mom to a difficult toddler who doesn’t want to see you close your eyes even for a second, this trick can do wonders. Even just 10 to 15 minutes of “getting lost” can help recharge your batteries.

How to Sleep With Eyes Open

Follow these steps to safely squeeze in some naps during your “waking” hours.

Step 1: Find a good spot for sleeping.

Just as you would when you’re sleeping naturally, you want to sit somewhere most comfortable and away from prying eyeballs!

If you’re in a meeting or a class, consider sitting in the back row where your professor (or boss) will not notice you.

Step 2: Sit comfortably.

The idea behind sleeping with your eyes open is similar to that of mindfulness practice.

Begin by releasing the tension in your toes all the way up to your shoulders. If it helps to shake them off a bit, do it. Just don’t make it so obvious that other people will notice you.

Step 3: Fix your eyes on a single spot.

Choose a spot (a still object) to focus your eyes on. It could be the blackboard, signage, or painting on the wall.

If you’re outdoors or in a commute, look for something still, such as a grab handle. This way, you won’t have to keep following it around and get distracted.

Step 4: Breathe in and out.

Deep breathing is central to the whole process.

Focus on your breath. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.

Focusing on your breathing doesn’t just help relax your muscles, but also helps you overcome distractions.

As you practice proper breathing techniques, you’ll notice that your mind is slowly wandering away from where you are.

Step 5: Get into a trance.

Your overall goal is to clear your mind and finally fall “asleep”.

At this point, you want to think of nothing and just let your mind wander.

At first, it will feel like your mind is full of chaos, jumping from one thought to another.

There might be a flood of images on your mind at this point, which might keep you wide awake. That’s okay.

The key is to not resist them. It may feel counterintuitive but your brain is supposed to work that way.

Gradually, you’ll begin to think of nothing instead. And you’ll drift… without closing your eyes!

You may not be able to succeed on your first few attempts. That’s completely normal.

Note that your eyes are not designed to stay open when you’re sleeping.

However, with constant practice, you’ll be able to do it too.

Since everyone is different, you might find some tricks that work for you especially when trying to achieve a state of mindfulness. Feel free to experiment.

Important Things To Remember

While it’s okay to sleep with your eyes open, you certainly do not want to make it a habit.

As discussed earlier, sleeping with your eyes open can have negative effects. You could suffer from a wide range of symptoms, from dryness to itchiness, blurred vision, and even eye fatigue.

It can also impact your sleep quality.

Here are very important tips when you’re learning how to sleep with eyes open:

  • Do it only for napping. 10-15 minutes of nap is enough.

Keeping your eyes open without blinking can cause irritation and discomfort.

  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night.

No morning or midday naps can substitute for nighttime sleep.

If you’re getting enough sleep, it’s less likely that you will struggle to snooze during the day.

There are many ways to promote quality sleep, from reading a book to eating pistachios.

  • Know your limits. At any moment that it starts to feel uncomfortable, stop.
  • Practice meditation instead.

A great way to overcome stress and relax your body is to practice mindfulness meditation.

Even if you’re not really sleeping, this ancient practice can help “clear” your mind and keep you relaxed.

How to Sleep With Your Eyes Open

Is it possible to sleep with eyes open? It is, indeed.

Sleeping with your eyes open involves a few steps but it might take some time to master it.

It certainly has some benefits, especially for busy individuals who struggle with work-life balance.

However, make sure you do it safely and sparingly to avoid damaging your eyes.

Sleeping well (especially at night) and adopting healthy habits are still the best ways to keep your body feeling energized throughout the day.