It's a fact that some people sleep with their eyes open, but why does that happen? Is it normal behavior, not a symptom of any sort of disorder? Are there any (dis)advantages to sleeping with eyes open?

  • $\begingroup$ Do you have any evidence to support your statements ? $\endgroup$
    – biogirl
    Aug 14, 2013 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ @biogirl I once saw someone do that ;) $\endgroup$ Aug 14, 2013 at 8:04
  • $\begingroup$ Something new for me !I have heard about it only in dolphins:) $\endgroup$
    – biogirl
    Aug 14, 2013 at 9:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've met a few different people that do this. The most common complaint I heard was dry eyes. I suppose over a lifetime it probably damages the eyes faster, but I don't have any source to back that up, and I have no idea why it happens in the first place. $\endgroup$
    – Geobits
    Aug 29, 2013 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


The medical term is "lagophthalmos" if the person is unable to close their eyes at night.

There are several factors involved, and unless it's due to physical obstruction, lid archetecture (such as short lid length (due to surgery etc)), or facial nerve (CN VII) problems, it's not well understood.

I have seen numerous people with varying degrees of this over the years. For most of those people, it's an intermittent thing.

Tears are essential for eye tissue health, including cleaning and avoiding infection. People complain of dry or irritated eyes mostly. But in more extensive cases, keratitis and ulcers can occur, which are bad. If it's frequent, tell the person to make sure they tell their eye doctor (or if they don't have one, get it checked out sometime) so that the health of their eye tissue can be evaluated.

Another possibility is Grave's disease - in that condition, the entire eyeball protrudes and sometimes the eyelids aren't long enough to cover them adequately. But what you're describing is probably not Grave's disease.


American Academy of Ophthalmology


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