Is My Sleep Position Affecting My Dry Eyes?
Last updated: May 2023
Do you have one eye that feels dryer and more irritated than the other? My left eye has always given me more trouble. And the more I hear about other people’s experiences with chronic dry eye, the more I realize that a lot of other people have one eye that is worse than the other.
A year and a half into my journey, I had tried so many different treatments, and my left eye was still bothering me more so than my right. I would have many days in which my right eye felt almost normal. But my left eye would feel dry and more exposed to elements like wind and the air from my car air conditioning vents.
The role of sleep positions
I remembered reading something at some point about sleep position possibly affecting dry eye, and my doctor had briefly mentioned it as a possible reason for why one eye was worse than the other.
So I began searching the web again. I came across a study that found that side and stomach sleepers had a greater Ocular Surface Disease Index score than back sleepers. The study concluded that side and stomach sleepers might see a reduction in dry eye symptoms if they would change to sleeping on their backs.1
Most of the time, I sleep on my right side. Every once in a while I will sleep on my left side or my stomach, but rarely on my back. It is uncomfortable for me. However, I got to thinking that, in sleeping on my right side, all of my tears are probably draining down out of my left eye and toward my right eye. This makes sense that my left eye would feel dryer as a result of sleeping on my right side. My tears aren’t as equally dispersed.
Trying out sleeping on my back
I also read about how a back-sleeping position is actually beneficial for a number of reasons, such as that it may help retain the curvature of the spine. These are bonuses, but my main motivation was my eyes, and I have been willing to do whatever it takes to see improvement.
Therefore, I decided to try sleeping on my back. I tried a couple of nights, and my lower back, neck, and shoulders hurt terribly. I woke up constantly, trying to readjust. I even used a pillow underneath my knees to help support my back. After a couple of days, my left eye felt a little better. I felt like my tears were being more equally distributed when I was lying on my back.
Considering a more gradual approach
However, my back hurt terribly for about three weeks. In that time I alternated between my back and my sides. If I couldn’t find a comfortable position on my back, I would try to start on my left side instead of my usual right-side position. If I were to start the process over from the beginning, I would try a much more gradual approach to allow my spine to get used to a different position.
In all, I feel like both my sleep position during the night and my quality of sleep have an impact on how my eyes feel the next day.
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