Why Do My Eyes Feel Tired When I Wake Up?

Waking up with tired eyes is a common complaint, and it can be caused by various factors. Understanding the reasons behind this occurrence can help address the problem effectively and ensure a better start to the day. In this article, we will explore the causes of tired eyes upon waking up and discuss potential solutions.

One possible explanation for tired eyes in the morning is sleep inertia. This phenomenon occurs when the body and mind are still in a transitional state from sleep to wakefulness, resulting in feelings of grogginess and fatigue.

Another factor that may contribute to this issue is prolonged exposure to screens before bedtime or inadequate sleep, which can strain the eyes and make them feel more fatigued.

Dehydration is another factor that can lead to tired eyes when waking up. When the body lacks sufficient hydration, it can affect various aspects of health, including the eyes, resulting in a dry and weary sensation. 

To combat this, it’s essential to maintain proper hydration levels and incorporate additional lifestyle changes to promote overall eye health.

looking at screens for too long

Underlying Causes of Morning Eye Fatigue

Lack of Quality Sleep

One of the primary reasons for experiencing tired eyes when waking up is the lack of quality sleep. Insufficient sleep or poor sleep quality can make your eyes feel fatigued in the morning. 

Factors that can lead to poor sleep include an uncomfortable sleeping environment, stress, or an inconsistent sleep schedule. To improve sleep quality, it’s important to maintain a regular sleep routine and create a comfortable, relaxing sleep environment.

Digital Eye Strain

In today’s digital age, we spend a significant amount of time staring at screens, whether it’s our smartphones, laptops, or TVs. This constant exposure can cause digital eye strain, a contributing factor to morning eye fatigue. 

Staring at screens for extended periods without taking breaks can strain the ocular muscles, therefore making your eyes feel tired upon waking up. To counteract digital eye strain, try incorporating the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away.

Dehydration or Poor Diet

A less obvious cause of morning eye fatigue is dehydration or following a poor diet. Dehydration can lead to dry and uncomfortable eyes as well as overall fatigue, affecting your eyes upon waking up. 

Similarly, a diet lacking essential nutrients can impact eye health. Ensure you stay well-hydrated and maintain a balanced diet, rich in vitamins and minerals that support eye health, such as vitamin A, C, and E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

poor diet

Physical and Environmental Factors

Allergies and Dry Eye Syndrome

Allergies can play a significant role in causing tired eyes upon waking up. Allergens, such as pollen, pet dander, or dust mites, can cause inflammation and irritation in your eyes, leading to excessive eye rubbing, itching, and redness. 

Dry eye syndrome, also a common cause, occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears to lubricate and nourish your eyes, provoking a gritty, burning sensation.

To help with allergies and dry eye syndrome, consider the following steps:

  • Keep your sleeping environment clean and allergen-free
  • Use hypoallergenic bedding and pillowcases
  • Use artificial tears or lubricating eye drops
  • Consult your doctor for allergy medications or treatments

Sleeping Environment and Position

Your sleeping environment and position can also impact how your eyes feel when you wake up. Factors such as poor sleep quality, dehydration, and the wrong sleeping posture or position can lead to tired eyes in the morning. Here are some tips on improving your sleeping environment and position:

  • Room temperature: Maintain a comfortable and cool room temperature – around 16-18°C (60-65°F) is ideal for most people.
  • Humidity: Keep the humidity level in your bedroom between 40-60% to help prevent dry eyes.
  • Darkness and noise: Block out light and noise for a better sleeping atmosphere. Use blackout curtains, earplugs, or white noise machines if necessary.
  • Sleeping position: Avoid sleeping with your face pressed against the pillow, as this can cause eyelid swelling and exacerbate eye fatigue.

By addressing these physical and environmental factors, you should see a noticeable improvement in the way your eyes feel upon waking up. Be proactive about implementing changes, and don’t hesitate to consult with your healthcare professional if symptoms persist.

eye drops

Tips for Prevention and Relief

Taking care of your eyes and preventing tiredness upon waking up is really important when it comes to maintaining good eye health. This section offers tips for prevention and relief, focusing on sleep hygiene practices and eye exercises and breaks.

Sleep Hygiene Practices

Practicing good sleep hygiene can help prevent and relieve tired eyes upon waking up. Below are some recommendations for improving sleep quality and preventing tired eyes in the morning:

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, even on weekends, to regulate your body’s internal clock.

  • Create a sleep-conducive environment: Ensure that your bedroom is dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable. Invest in blackout curtains, a white noise machine, or use earplugs to ensure an optimal sleeping environment.

  • Limit exposure to screens before bedtime: Blue light emitted from screens can make it difficult to fall asleep. Try to avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime, or use apps that filter blue light on your devices after sunset.

Eye Exercises and Breaks

Giving your eyes sufficient breaks and performing exercises can prevent tiredness and strain. Here are some suggestions for keeping your eyes in tip-top shape:

  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away, giving your eyes a brief rest from focusing on screens or other close-up tasks.

  • Blinking exercises: Frequent blinking helps maintain the moisture levels in your eyes. Make a conscious effort to blink every few seconds, especially when engaging in activities that require intense focus, such as working on computers or reading.

  • Eye rolling: Gently roll your eyes in a circular motion, first clockwise, then counter-clockwise, to release tension and facilitate blood circulation around the eye sockets.

Implementing these practices into your daily routine can make a noticeable difference in preventing tired eyes upon waking up. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule and giving your eyes regular breaks will contribute to improved overall eye health.

constant sleep schedule

When to Seek Medical Advice

Your eyes feeling tired when you wake up might be a common occurrence, but it’s essential to recognise when it’s time to seek medical advice. Keep an eye out for these warning signs and consult your optometrist if they persist:

  • Inadequate Sleep: If you’re regularly getting less sleep than the recommended 7-9 hours per night, it could be the primary cause of your tired eyes.

  • Poor Sleep Quality: Even when getting enough sleep, restless or poor-quality sleep can lead to tired eyes in the morning.

  • Dehydration: Drinking insufficient water during the day can sometimes lead to dry and fatigued eyes.

  • Digital Eye Strain: Overexposure to screens, such as computers, smartphones, and tablets, could cause eye fatigue.

If you’ve addressed the potential reasons listed above and your tired eyes persist, it’s crucial to consult an optometrist or a healthcare professional. They can help identify potential causes such as:

  1. Medications: Certain medications can impact your eyes and cause fatigue as a side effect.
  2. Environment: Pollutants and allergens in your surroundings might be affecting your eyes.
  3. Refractive Errors: Issues like astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness can contribute to eye fatigue.
  4. Eye Infections or Injury: Swelling, redness, and discharge can be signs of an eye infection or injury that requires medical attention.
  5. Blepharitis: This inflammation of the eyelid margin might be causing your morning eye fatigue.
  6. Age: As you get older, your eyes may become more susceptible to fatigue, requiring more frequent check-ups.