Home Conditions Dry Eye Syndrome » Waking Up With Dry Eyes

Why Do I Wake Up With Dry Eyes?

If you wake up with dry eyes, it's likely your eyelids are not staying tightly closed while you are sleeping. Even a small gap between your eyelids can allow air and dust to dry out and irritate your eyes — especially if you live in a dry climate or you sleep with a ceiling fan or some other fan on in your bedroom.


Another possibility is that something is causing inflammation of the surface of your eyes and you aren't producing enough tears at night to flush inflammation-causing substances or inflammatory byproducts from your eyes while you sleep.

Also, taking certain medications for other health problems at bedtime may cause dry eyes while you sleep. [Read Can Medications Cause Dry Eyes? to learn more.]

The best way to determine what's causing you to wake up with dry eyes or get dry eyes when you sleep is to visit an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. Be sure to discuss your dry eye symptoms with your doctor and bring a list of all medications and nutritional supplements you take routinely. AAV

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Dr. Gary HeitingAbout the Author: Gary Heiting, OD, is senior editor of AllAboutVision.com. Dr. Heiting has more than 25 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator and consultant to the eyewear industry. His special interests include contact lenses, nutrition and preventive vision care.

Page updated January 2018