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5 Reasons Why You Keep Waking Up With Dry Eye

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Our sleep is supposed to be a time of rest and recovery. One of the worst feelings is waking up only to be bombarded by the uncomfortable symptoms of dry eye. Not only does it suck to wake up with that gritty or itchy feeling, but it can also prevent you from having a restful night of sleep in the first place.

Even though dry eye may be a persistent condition, it’s not overly difficult to treat. Plus, many effective remedies can be performed at home without any prescription. That being said, if you are suddenly experiencing unusual symptoms, it’s a good idea to book an eye examination to ensure there are no serious underlying causes of your dry eye symptoms.

5 Reasons Why You Keep Waking Up With Dry Eye

There are many different causes of dry eye. Let’s look at 5 common reasons you are waking up with dry eye.

Dry Environment

A dry climate is a recipe for dry eye symptoms. Winter is a common time for many people to experience dry eyes due to air. However, some climates have dry air all year round. One way you can help prevent or alleviate symptoms due to your environment is by using a humidifier. Often just keeping your bedroom humid is enough to avoid waking up with dry eyes.


Whether they are seasonal or not, allergies are another leading cause of dry eye. Using a suitable allergy medicine is often enough to minimize your chances of waking up with these uncomfortable symptoms. Another possible solution to allergy-related dry eye is by leaving your bedroom window closed and showering before bed to prevent allergens from building up in your bed. Also, washing your bedding regularly is a good idea.

Nocturnal Lagophthalmos

Nocturnal lagophthalmos is a condition where you cannot close your eyelids completely while sleeping. And when the eyelids don’t close, the tear film evaporates more quickly, causing uncomfortable dry eye symptoms. A lubricating eye drop may help keep your eyes from drying out overnight.

Inadequate Tear Production

Ultimately, dry eye syndrome comes down to your eye not producing enough tears or producing low-quality tears. If your tear film evaporates while you sleep, you will wake up with dry eye symptoms. The best solution is for your eye doctor to get to the root of your tear production issues.

One common cause of inadequate tear production is the meibomian glands not working correctly. If this is the case, your eye doctor can discuss several treatment options with you.


Many prescription (and over-the-counter) medications can cause dry eye symptoms. If medication use is only temporary, using eye drops is a good option. However, if you’re using the medication long-term, there may be an alternative that your doctor can prescribe.

Morning Dry Eye Remedies

There’s no single magic bullet to fix dry eye syndrome because it mostly boils down to what is causing the symptoms. Here are several remedies you can try at home or discuss with your optometrist:

  • Increase Humidity: If you live in a dry climate, a great first step to preventing dry eye symptoms is increasing the humidity in your home. If you’re waking up with dry eye, your bedroom is the most important room to keep humid.
  • Artificial Tears: Many different eye drops are available without a prescription, but your eye doctor may prescribe something stronger to deal with persistent symptoms. Remember that if you use artificial tears long-term, you’ll want to ensure you use a preservative-free brand. Preservatives can cause their own problems with long-term use.
  • Change Contacts Lenses: Some types of contact lenses can increase your chances of developing dry eye symptoms. In some cases, your optometrist may recommend switching brands or types altogether. In other instances, it may simply be a change in how you take care of your contact lenses.
  • Hydrate: Dehydration—even minor—can worsen your dry eye symptoms. Having a big glass of water when you wake up and maintaining good hydration throughout the day can help alleviate your symptoms.
  • Warm Compress: Using a warm compress morning and evening is a great way to prevent and treat dry eye symptoms.
  • Limit Screen Time: Sometimes, we can’t prevent screen time, especially if we need screens for work. However, limiting your screen time in the evenings is important because digital eye strain can cause or worsen symptoms you experience overnight.
a couple sleeps with a humidifier in their room to help alleviate dry eye in the morning

Find Out More About Treating Dry Eye

If you’ve been waking up with dry eyes and want to get to the root of the problem, an eye examination is a great place to start and rule out any underlying eye conditions. Then the eye doctor can recommend the most effective treatment for your situation.

Give our office a shout today. The helpful and knowledgeable staff of Perspectives Vision Clinic are happy to answer all your questions and book you an appointment for a convenient time.


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  • Written by Dr. Marcie Nichols

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