Age-related macular degeneration affects almost 5% of the entire population in India. This condition is difficult to manage and often leads to complete loss of vision. Even though this condition is not curable, with timely diagnosis and lifestyle changes, it can be managed and further degradation of your vision can be stopped.
Given that AMD does not have a dedicated cure, most patients with it often go undiagnosed and that leads to blindness in the advanced ages. However, with simple self-care practices you can both manage the condition and deal with your risk factors. And it all revolves around sleep. What’s the link between sleep and AMD management? Let’s find out.
Understanding the Link Between Sleep Deprivation and Eye Problems
Sleep deprivation is bad for your overall health, but more so for your eye health. Not getting enough sleep at night has clear indicators the next morning with puffy eyes, dark circles, and bloodshot eyes. These symptoms start showing even after a single day of bad sleep, but think about people that don’t get enough sleep regularly?
Due to sleep deprivation caused by various mental and physical health concerns, it can have adverse effects on your eye health even if you are leading a perfectly healthy lifestyle. And the long-term effects of sleep deprivation is that it increases your risk of getting age-related macular degeneration. But why? How does sleep affect your eye health and increase your risk for AMD?
Just like most other parts of your body, sleep is when your eyes rest. During the eye an average adult now spends almost six hours in front of digital devices. For most it exceeds and even carries into their bed. The exposure to blue light from digital screens causes eye strain and a condition known as dry eyes. The lack of breaks during a workday and people working mostly indoors nowadays also negatively impact their eye health. How?
Spending time even during the day infront of digital lights and not having enough exposure to natural light and a safe exposure to the sun can speed up your symptoms of dry eyes and eye strain. When left unchecked, it slowly starts affecting the different parts of your eye and it is only made worse in patients with sleep problems.
Without proper sleep regularly here are some of the things that happen to your eyes.
- Dryness in the eyes
- Inadequate tear production
- Bad tear quality that are unable to lubricate your eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Pain and irritation in your eyes
- Eye twitching and spasms
- Increased risk of eye infections
So, for patients that suffer from sleep problems, these problems are common for them and over time, their effects build up and increase your risk for serious and incurable eye conditions like AMD. So, to maintain your eye health, you need to sleep better. And not just sleep, you need to have proper REM sleep at night to ensure your eye health is at optimal levels. What’s REM sleep and why is it important for eye health? Let’s find out.
The Importance of REM Sleep for Eye Health
REM sleep also known as Rapid Eye Movement sleep is a phase in your sleep where your eyes move rapidly under your closed eyelids. This phase is where your sleep is the deepest and you transcend into dreams. REM sleep is required for a healthy night’s rest. If you don’t get enough REM sleep every night, it means that your quality of sleep is poor and you will feel fatigued or lethargic during the day.
For people with sleeping disorders, REM sleep eludes them for days on end even when they are getting 8 hours of sleep at night. Due to having little to no REM sleep, the tear film in their eyes are compromised, which makes their eyes drier and have bad quality tears that can’t lubricate the eyes properly. REM sleep is crucial for your eye health because when your eyes move rapidly under your closed eyelids, it helps tear production and it protects the film of tear on your eyes that protects it from external agents of nature.
As mentioned previously, dry eyes can have a lot of adverse effects on your eyes and it increases the strain that is put on your eyes when you are doing everyday work. And unless the sleep disorders are treated, doctors won’t be able to help you with your eye health. In most cases, these symptoms start becoming regular and people can easily ignore them, but in the long run, it affects their eye health and makes them susceptible to a variety of eye conditions including age-related macular degeneration.
Natural Remedies for Improving Sleep Quality and Eye Health
As you now know, improving your sleep quality is essential for maintaining your eye health. If you have sleep disorders, it will inadvertently affect your eyes over time. So, it is crucial that you start taking measures to get better sleep in order to maintain your vision. And to help you sleep better, here are some of the best natural remedies that will help you get REM sleep at night and take care of your eye health. However, if you have had sleeping problems for long, you should get a proper medical diagnosis to assess your condition and then continue these remedies.
Maintain a Proper Sleep Schedule
This means you have to sleep around the same time every day and wake up around the same time too. Just make sure the duration between the two is at least 6 hours. Preferably it should be 8. Maintaining a proper sleep schedule helps your body know when to slowly start getting ready for bed and your body will get sleepy by itself as you start approaching that time. This is one of the changes that takes the longest for your body to adapt so it is mentioned first.
Watch What You Eat Before Bed
The key is to have a light dinner and that too a few hours before your sleep time. When you are stuffed or hungry before bed, it interferes with your sleep and you won’t get the quality sleep you need. You should also avoid certain food items before bed as they can interfere with your sleep too, namely caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine take hours to wear off from your system and in fact they will keep your body from feeling sleepy. Alcohol may make you feel sleepy at first, but it interferes with your sleep and you won’t get to sleep properly through the night.
Create A Nice Environment For Sleep
Environment is everything when you are trying to sleep. So, make sure your bed is ready and comfortable. You have supportive pillows that can hold the weight of your head. The lights in your room are conducive of an ideal sleeping environment and make sure you don’t have anything to distract you from your goal of sleeping. These small things go a long way into helping you sleep. Even having a clean room helps you sleep, so make sure you create a nice conducive environment where you feel safe and comfortable to help yourself sleep.
Keep Your Room Temperature Optimal
Cool temperatures even in the winter can help you feel sleepy in your room. When you feel hot, it is difficult for your body to be sleepy. So, it is crucial that you keep your room temperatures low between 18 – 22 degree celsius at night. If you don’t have air conditioning and can’t regulate the temperature like that, try to cool down your room as much as possible. It will help you sleep and feel more comfortable in your bed.
Limit The Number of Light Sources in Your Room
Your body’s natural response to light is to stay awake. So, if your room is not dark, your body will have a hard time falling asleep, especially if you have sleep problems. If you are a heavy sleeper, you can probably sleep with the lights. However, for someone with sleep problems, turning the lights off and making your room dark is crucial for helping you sleep. So, make sure your room is cool and dark because it does go a long way to helping you sleep better at night.
Have an Active Day With Considerable Physical Activity
This is especially for people who have a sedentary lifestyle. Working in the office with your brain all day is enough to make your mind tired, but your body hasn’t really done much all day. So, you need to exercise to ensure your body is tired too. It will help you sleep better and not only that, it will help you stay healthier in general. Now exercising doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym. Just walking around the office, taking the stairs sometimes, going for a run, or even yoga can help you get the necessary physical activity to help you sleep better.
Don’t Use Your Phone in Bed
As you already know, screens emit blue lights, which disrupts your natural circadian rhythm and can disrupt your sleep. Even if you have done everything right and created the best environment for you to sleep, using your phone can actually keep you up for longer allowing you to get less sleep every night or oversleep the next morning. So, it is in your best interest to keep phones, laptops, and TVs out of your bedroom. It will help you sleep better. If you have a hard time falling asleep, maybe read a book, a physical book. It will help you sleep more easily.
Use Melatonin Supplements
Lastly, lifestyle changes only go so far and sometimes you need that extra bit of help to fall asleep, and one of the best non-habit forming options for that is melatonin supplements. Melatonin is the hormone in your body that helps you sleep as it maintains your sleep cycle internally. Using these supplements can help you sleep better only when you follow all the other lifestyle modifications mentioned above.
AMD is manageable with your efforts and together with us at Sanjeevan for perfect eyesight, we can help you protect your eyes from further damage. With our holistic eye care practice, we treat the underlying cause of your eye problems and help you manage your conditions and treat them better. For AMD, often the underlying untreated problem for most is sleep problems branching from psychological issues. So, if you too are having sleep troubles and want to learn more about your eye health, visit us today. We can help you naturally take care of your eye health and prevent common eye conditions. Check out our website to book your appointment today.