Why Do Eyelids Get Heavy When You're Sleepy?

There's a reason why your eyes may start to feel heavy as you get tired.

Why Do Eyelids Get Heavy When You're Sleepy?

By Danielle Cronquist Published at March 23, 2015 Views 5,222 Comments 4 Likes 1

It’s the end of the day, and you’re getting sleepy, but before you crawl into your bed and shut down your body for a night of sleep, you’re waging war against your eyelids because they might as well be made of lead. We’ve all experienced this heavy-lidded feeling, but why does it happen? What makes our eyelids so heavy?

The muscles around your eyes are just like any of the other muscles in your body. If you spend the whole day walking, running, and standing, your legs are going to be tired by the end of the day, and if you spend the whole day with your eyes wide open, your eyelids are going to get tired too.

Just like you want to massage your sore legs, you have a natural instinct to rub your tired eyes. Rubbing your eyes increases blood flow to the area and gets rid of the waste materials generated by your fatigue.

Some common causes of tired eyes are:
• Too much or too little sleep
• Prolonged staring at digital devices (sometimes known as computer vision syndrome)
• Allergies
• Overworking your eyes (e.g. driving or reading for an extended period of time without taking a break)
• Incorrect vision prescription
• Dry eye syndrome (chronic lack of moisture in the eyes)
• Farsightedness
• Astigmatism
• Exposure to bright light or straining in dim light

All of these conditions force your eyes to work harder than normal, wearing down your eye muscles even faster. Having heavy eyelids does not usually indicate a medical issue, but some conditions can cause ptosis (droopy eyelids) such as stroke, a muscular disorder, and some potentially nerve-damaging facial elective surgeries or interventions like Botox.

If you want to prevent having heavy eyelids you can try one of these:
• Get enough sleep
• Reduce environmental triggers of eye allergies or take allergy treatments
• Take breaks during work to step away from your computer at least once an hour
• Place your computer screen 20–26 inches away from your eyes and regularly clean your screen
• Adjust the lighting in your office or room to a comfortable setting
• Allow your eyes to rest after work
• Visit your eye doctor regularly to check your vision prescription and your eye health

For more on sleep and feeling tired:

5 Sleep Mistakes You Are Making
When Depression and Insomnia Collide
9 Simple Bedtime Rituals for a Good Night’s Sleep

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