Sleeping with one open eye is a common phrase. It’s meant to be a metaphor for protecting yourself. But you might wonder if this is possible.

There are many medical conditions that may prevent you from being able to shut your eyes while sleeping. Some of them may cause you to sleep with one eye closed and the other open.

Causes of sleeping with one eye open

You may sleep with your eyes open for four reasons.

Unihemispheric sleep

When one half of your brain is asleep and the other half is awake, you are experiencing unihemispheric sleeping. This is most common in situations where protection is needed. Certain aquatic mammals (so that they can continue swimming while they are sleeping) and birds (so that they can sleep during migratory flight) exhibit the most unihemispheric sleeping patterns.

There is some evidence to support the idea that humans sleep unihemispheric in new situations. Data from sleep studies shows that during the first night in a new situation, one brain hemisphere sleeps less deeply than the other. The eye of the limb that is controlled by the awake hemisphere may remain open while sleeping because one-half of the brain is awake during unihemispheric rest.

Ptosis Surgery Side Effects

Ptosis occurs when the upper eyelid hangs over the pupil. This condition is present in some children from birth. It occurs in adults when the muscles that hold the eyelids up, the elevator, are stretched or separated. This can be caused by

  • Aging
  • eye injuries
  • tumor

Your doctor may recommend surgery if your eyelid is drooping to the point that it limits or blocks your vision. This can be done by tightening the elevator muscles or attaching the eyelid to other muscles to help lift the lid. Overcorrection is a potential complication. You may not be able to close the eyelid after surgery. You may begin to sleep with only one eye closed. This is a common side effect of frontalis fixation, a ptosis procedure. This is usually done when there’s ptosis or poor muscle function. The side effects are usually temporary, and they will disappear within 2 to 3 months.

Bell’s palsy

Bell’s palsy causes sudden and temporary weakness of the facial muscles. This condition usually affects one side. The condition usually develops rapidly, with the first symptoms progressing to paralysis within hours or days. Bell’s palsy can cause your affected side to droop. You may also find it difficult to close the eye on the affected side. This can cause you to sleep with one eye open.

It’s not known what causes Bell’s palsy, but the cause is most likely swelling and inflammation of the facial nerves. In some cases, it can be caused by a virus. Bell’s palsy symptoms usually disappear on their own in a few months to a couple of weeks.

Eyelid muscle damage

Sleeping with one eye open can be caused by conditions that damage the nerves or muscles of the eyelid. Some of these include:

  • Tumor or tumor removal surgery
  • stroke
  • facial trauma
  • Lyme disease

Sleep with one eye open or both open

Both sleeping with one eye and sleeping with both eyes open are caused by similar factors. The same causes that can cause you to sleep open-eyed with one eye listed above may also lead to sleeping open-eyed with both of your eyes.

You may also sleep with your eyes open if:

  • Graves disease can cause bulging eyes.
  • Some autoimmune disorders
  • Moebius syndrome, a rare condition
  • Genetics

Both sleeping with one eye and both eyes open can lead to similar symptoms, including fatigue and dryness. It’s not necessarily more dangerous to sleep with both your eyes open, but it can lead to more complications, especially if they affect both of your eyes.

For example, severe dryness over a long period of time can cause eye problems. If you sleep with both your eyes open, it can cause problems in both of your eyes. There are many causes for sleeping with your eyes open. Conditions that cause sleeping with only one eye, like Bell’s palsy, tend to heal on their own more than conditions that cause sleeping with both.

Sleeping with one eye opened

Sleeping with one eye open will cause most people to feel eye-related symptoms in the open eye. These symptoms include:

  • Dryness
  • red eyes
  • Feeling like something is in your eye
  • blurry vision
  • light sensitivity
  • Burning Feeling

If you sleep with one eye open, it’s likely that your sleep will be poor.

What are some of the problems associated with sleeping with your eyes open?

Dryness is the main cause of problems when sleeping with an eye open. If you don’t close your eye at night, the lubrication can’t be maintained, resulting in a dry eye. This can lead to:

  • You can get scratches on your eyes.
  • corneal damage, including scratches and ulcers
  • Eye Infections
  • Untreated, loss of sight can occur.

You may also feel very tired throughout the day if you don’t get enough sleep.

How do you treat the symptoms of sleeping with your eyes open?

Use eye drops and ointments to keep your eyes lubricated. You will find that this reduces most symptoms. You can ask your doctor to prescribe something or make a recommendation.

The treatment that you will need to stop sleeping with your eyes open is dependent on the cause. Corticosteroids can help with Bell’s palsy. However, it will usually go away on its own in a matter of weeks or months. Ptosis surgery and unihemispheric sleeping are also common side effects that usually resolve on their own. You can tape your eyelids with medical tape while you wait for the condition to improve. You can ask your doctor how to do it safely. Add a weight to your eyelid for it to close. Your doctor may prescribe an external weight to stick on the outer edge of your eyelid.

In some cases, you may need to have surgery. Two types of surgery are available:

  • Your eyelids will move and close normally after elevator surgery.
  • Installing a weight on your eyelid will help it close completely.


It is not common to sleep with one eye open, but it can happen. Speak to your doctor if you wake up with a very dry eye in one eye and are not feeling well rested. Your doctor may suggest a sleep test to determine if you are sleeping with one of your eyes open. They can then help you find relief.

Credit: The Web Health & Drugs Discussion