Falling asleep with your eyes wide open almost sounds like something out of a Sci-Fi movie, but the truth is, about 10% of the population has the ability to do it. Sometimes it’s due to medical conditions, like for folks who live with Nocturnal Lagophthalmos where they physically can’t close their eyes during sleep. Other times, it’s because a student wants to pull a fast one on their math teacher who keeps yelling at them for falling asleep in class. Whatever the reason is, you should do it at your own risk because there are some short term and possible long term consequences if you make it a regular habit to sleep with your eyes open.
For those of you who want to take the saying “sleep with one eye open” to another level, there’s a few things you should know before you do.
First, let’s discuss what might happen in the short term. Your eyelids are meant to prevent dust, irritants, or harsh light from getting in your eyes. So if you keep your eyes open for a long duration of time, you could experience dryness, redness, or blurred vision. Long term, you may see a decline in your sleep quality when you try to fall asleep at bedtime, or permanently compromise the health of your eyes.
So if you want to try this at home, in class, or at your office, make sure you don’t make it a part of your every day routine. Now that we got that disclaimer out of the way, continue along to find out how to sleep with your eyes open.
You won’t be getting the best sleep of your life with your eyes open, so don’t expect to fall into a deep slumber with these tips. With practice, however, you’ll get a few moments to doze off and relax without giving yourself away.
Tip 1: Relax
Sit back in your chair and relax your entire body, starting with your toes. Work your way up your legs, torso, fingers, arms, shoulders, and finally your head. Don’t move any of your body parts, allow yourself to release the tension in your muscles, and let go.
Tip 2: Deep Breaths
You might think this sounds like a cliche, but there’s a reason why deep breathing techniques are incorporated in relaxation practices, or recommended during anxiety attacks. It really does calm you down, and complete relaxation is key to falling asleep with your eyes open.
You’ll want to start taking deep, intentional breaths. Slowly breath in for five seconds, and release for another five seconds. Keep repeating this technique, and keep it consistent. Once you get into a nice rhythm, you should start to feel yourself fall into a deeper state of relaxation.
Tip 3: Focus
When your body is fully relaxed, you’ll have to try and relax your eyes first. Do you ever find yourself staring off into the distance, not moving your eyes from one spot because they’re comfortable? If so, you get the gist of what you should try to accomplish here.
Try and focus on one spot in front of you. If you’re in a classroom or conference room, pick a spot next to your teacher, coworker, or whoever’s in the front of the room talking. If somebody sees you staring down at a table for 10 minutes without looking up, odds are, you’ll give yourself up. Also, for obvious reasons, try to avoid staring at a light. Choose an object like a desk or medium sized spot on the wall, and focus on it.
Tip 4: Clear Your Mind
Clearing your mind is the final step to successfully fall asleep with your eyes open. It’s much easier said than done, so begin thinking about anything that makes you happy. Daydream about a fond memory you have with friends and family, or an upcoming event you’re really excited for.
It honestly doesn’t matter what you daydream of, just as long as it isn’t too thought provoking. You don’t want your mind to wander down an existential rabbit hole while you’re trying to fall asleep. Once you start pondering positive thoughts, eventually, your mind should begin to wind down. So before you know it, you should have sleepy thoughts of nothing flowing through your head as you drift off to sleep.
Like almost anything you do, you’re probably not going to be perfect at this the first few times you try it. So don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work out right away. If you’re worried about looking a little creepy to your peers, try wearing sunglasses. You might look like a tool if you’re indoors, but it’s a price worth paying for some people.