Why Are My Eyes Dry When I Wake Up?

Do you often wake up feeling like your eyes are dry? And are you constantly reaching for eye drops to find some relief? If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Millions of people experience dry eyes, with symptoms ranging from mild irritation to severe pain and vision problems. 

Sometimes, dry eyes can be worse in the morning. This can be caused by a variety of things, including:

  • Nocturnal lagophthalmos

  • Poor sleep quality

  • Allergies

  • Medications

  • Dehydration

  • Aging

  • Contact Lenses

  • Environmental factors

  • Certain eye conditions


Waking up with dry eyes is a common problem that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Many factors can contribute to this issue, including environmental conditions (such as air conditioning or heating), certain medications, underlying health conditions, and even the position in which you sleep. Understanding the root cause of your morning dryness can help you find the right solution.


Nocturnal lagophthalmos refers to a condition where a person’s eyelids don’t fully close during sleep. When your eyelids don’t close completely, it can lead to increased tear evaporation and poor distribution of tears across the surface of your eyes. In other words, your eyes aren’t getting the moisture they need throughout the night. As a result, you wake up with dry, gritty, and uncomfortable eyes.


Studies have shown that poor-quality sleep can affect the production of tears and cause dry eyes in the morning. Factors such as sleep apnea, snoring, and restless sleep can disrupt the body’s natural processes and result in a lack of proper eye lubrication.


Seasonal allergies or allergic reactions to certain substances can also contribute to morning dryness. These allergens can irritate your eyes, cause them to be red, and produce fewer tears.


Some medications are known to cause dry eyes as a side effect. These include antihistamines, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications. If you’re taking any of these medications and experiencing dry eyes in the morning, talk to your doctor about potential alternatives.


Your body can naturally lose water while you sleep, so it’s essential to stay hydrated throughout the day in order to prevent dry eyes in the morning. Drinking enough water not only helps keep your body functioning correctly but also makes sure that your eyes have enough moisture.


As you age, hormonal changes can affect how your lacrimal (tear) glands function, which are essential for keeping your eyes hydrated. This can lead to dryness and irritation in the morning as your eyes struggle to maintain proper lubrication. A variety of treatments are available to help address this issue.


When you wear contacts overnight, your eyes are not able to receive enough oxygen, leading to potential irritation and dryness. Always follow your optometrist’s instructions for contact lens wear and don’t sleep in your lenses unless they’re designed for overnight use.


The environment you sleep in can also play a role in causing dry eyes in the morning. Air conditioners and fans can cause air to become drier, making it more difficult for your eyes to stay lubricated while you sleep.


Certain underlying eye conditions, such as blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction, can lead to dry eyes in the morning. These conditions affect the production of oil and tears, resulting in insufficient moisture for your eyes. These conditions can be exacerbated by environmental conditions, and treatment from an eye doctor is often the best course of action to get relief.


Taking care of your eyes is essential for maintaining good overall health and vision. Proper eye care not only helps prevent dryness but also protects you from potential eye infections and diseases.

  • Drink Plenty of WaterStaying hydrated is crucial for keeping your body functioning properly, including your eyes. Drinking enough water throughout the day can help keep your tear ducts moist and prevent dry eyes in the morning.

  • Take Frequent Breaks: Whether we’re working on a computer or reading a book, it’s important to take regular breaks to give your eyes some rest. Staring at a screen or focusing on small text for extended periods can cause strain and lead to dryness.

  • Use Artificial Tears: If you do experience dryness, using artificial tears can provide temporary relief and help keep your eyes moisturized. It’s best to consult with an eye doctor for recommendations on the right type of artificial tears for your specific needs.

  • Eat a Balanced Diet: A well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals is crucial for maintaining good overall health, including eye health. Foods such as leafy greens, fish, fruits, and vegetables high in antioxidants can help keep your eyes healthy.


If you experience any persistent or worsening symptoms, it’s crucial to seek professional help from an eye doctor. At Eye Rx, we offer dry eye therapy and are an excellent resource for tips to keep your eyes well-hydrated. Together, we can discover the underlying cause of dry eyes in the morning and take steps to alleviate your discomfort. Book an appointment today!

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