What Your Eyes Do When You Sleep

What Your Eyes Do When You Sleep

We’ve mentioned the dangers of not getting enough sleep in other posts. However, we didn’t really get into what sleep actually was or how it can help our vision. If you are like many people you probably think that your eyes are still and relaxed during sleep, during part of your sleep period this would be true.

Research into sleep disorders and the different stages of sleep our bodies go through is fairly recent, with scientists really beginning to look into it in the 1950s.

Researchers found that while we sleep our eyes continue to move, but only 20-25 percent of the time. Being scientists, they named this discovery “rapid eye movement” (REM) sleep.

The early research was conducted on infants so at first it was assumed that REM sleep only occurred in infants. But further research showed that all humans and most animals experience REM sleep, usually several times during a sleep period. Do you remember your dreams when you wake up? Have you ever had episodes where you were sleep walking? Both of these are the results of different types of sleep.

Two Types of Sleep We Experience

  1. Rapid Eye Movement or REM Sleep

Most people experience three to five episodes of REM sleep throughout the night. Research has shown that as we age we experience less REM sleep. It appears that the dreams we can remember upon waking occur during REM sleep. Some researchers feel that this is a sign that REM sleep is a more shallow sleep pattern.

Infants spend almost 80 percent of their total sleep time in REM sleep, while people over 70 may only experience 10 percent of REM sleep throughout the night. This has led to some speculation concerning the connection between REM sleep and learning, to date nothing has been proven though. It is possible, however, that we are reliving what we learned or what happened to us during the day.

During REM sleep most of our muscles “turn off”, but this is not true of the eyes obviously. During REM sleep the eyes can reach up to 1,000 degrees of movement per second.

Does REM sleep help to keep eye muscles toned? No one knows for sure. One thing we do know is that lack of sleep can be linked to many serious eye problems. The Mayo Clinic conducted studies which showed that lack of sleep or interrupted sleep can lead to problems such as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of vision in a single eye upon waking
  • Eye vexation
  • Vision deterioration
  • Ischemic optic neuropathy (a vascular optic nerve lesion)
  • Papilledema (Swelling of the optic nerve)
  1. Non-REM or NREM Sleep

Non-REM sleep actually seems to be more relaxing than REM sleep. It is distinguished by slow brain waves, slow breathing and heart rate, and low blood pressure. Some researchers speculate that this is the type of sleep needed for the body to heal and fight disease.

Non-REM sleep is also associated with night terrors and sleepwalking episodes. It is very difficult to wake someone who is this deeply asleep. People don’t normally remember dreams, if they have any, during non-REM sleep. Because of this it has been suggested that while the eyes do not move during this type of sleep the brain may still be busy.

REM or Non-REM, We Need Our Sleep

What Your Eyes Do When You SleepThe Mayo Clinic has published recommendations on the amounts of sleep we need:

Age group – Recommended amount of sleep

Infants – 14 to 15 hours
Toddlers – 12 to 14 hours
School – age children – 10 to 11 hours
Adults – 7 to 9 hours

For your eye health, as well as your overall health, make sure you get the sleep you need! Very few people actually get the amount of sleep that they really need for their eye health or overall health. Some people just can’t sleep, sleep disorders are more common than some people might think.

It seems to be a growing concern. Some doctors think that sleep disorders could be linked to the stress levels that we experience during our day. Stress while bad for our bodies is also just as bad for our eyes. Stress can often lead to high blood pressure and other physical ailments. High blood pressure can also lead to high eye pressure which can result in vision problems. Try to reduce your stress levels before you sleep.

Our Ocu-Plus Formula Contains All 17 of the Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbal Supplements to Improve Your Eye Health!

Some Ideas to Help You Sleep

Have you ever lay in bed and tried to fall asleep only to have one thing after another go through your mind? You may want to try imagining a still lake or some other very calming scene. If your mind refuses to shut down on its own help it out with a calming vision.

Some people find, that if they can’t sleep, it may help them to start at their feet and slowly relax each muscle. Don’t let yourself be distracted by anything but the thought of slowly relaxing each muscle one at a time throughout your body. Generally by the time you reach your head you will have dozed off.

Some people find that a warm bath or shower will help them to relax right before they go to bed. Deep breathing exercises can also be calming and relaxing. Some people find that having music on at a low volume helps them to relax and doze off.

No matter what works for you it is vital that you find a way to get the sleep your body and eyes need.

About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics with the dreams of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science degree in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he and his brother decided to start Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent over a decade studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.

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Join or Start the Discussion

30 responses to “What Your Eyes Do When You Sleep”

  1. Avatar for linda linda says:

    Dear Tyler,
    Thank You so much for yr kind free lessons sent to me!

  2. Avatar for Harm Harm says:

    Thank you for the info Tyler. If you’re interested in the spritual purpose of deep sleep you might want to check out a book by Avatar Meher Baba, titled “Listen Humanity”. It contains an interesting chapter on the purpose of sleep for human beings.

    Best regards,


  3. Avatar for Mohammad Mohammad says:

    thank you, very informative !!
    i would like to understand does sleeping have to do with eyes’ and sight health? i was looking for such an info in the article as well..
    thanks again!

  4. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Tyler Sorensen says:

    Lynda, you are very welcome! Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Tyler Sorensen says:

    Harm, thanks for the suggestion. I’m always looking to stay informed and explore new ideas, so I’ll take a look!

  6. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Tyler Sorensen says:

    Hi Mohammad.

    Thanks for your interest and asking a great question! There’s too much to cover on that topic with just a comment, so I’m going to add that to my list of blog posts to write. Keep checking back on the blog, as I’ll be looking to answer your question with a new blog post.

  7. Avatar for Bob Bob says:

    THIS IS FAKE ADVERTISING. on my email you are supposed to give me frikin tips on how to improve my eyes. not what rem/nrem sleep is!!! btw is the 30 day free trial still up? you could sell loads of them if you did it again. i wanted to buy it but couldn’ at the time. redo some trial offer apartr from the 90 day trial cuz it costs almost a hundred bucks

  8. Avatar for Jesse Jesse says:

    Hi Tyler,

    I like to continually be learning and experimenting with ways to improve heath and awareness. I’ve found that healthier consumption forcefully impacts awareness (i.e. I don’t get the write vitamins, I don’t feel so good or perform very well.)

    Looking forward to hearing more on how REM impacts vision. Molecules of Emotion [Candace B. Pert] is a great book to check out if you havent already, its greatly expanded my awareness of how the body and brain work. Also Holosync® is a very effective method of achieving REM if you start listening to it before you sleep. The latter also enhances the ability to recall dreams, I generally start waking up with vivid memories after a few days of doing this.

  9. Avatar for malu malu says:

    thank you sir

  10. Avatar for Chittaranjan Acharya Chittaranjan Acharya says:

    Dear Tyler,
    Thanks for your advice for rebuild my vision. Today i read your mail regarding what our eye do when we sleep.

    C Acharya

  11. Avatar for bharatt kapoor bharatt kapoor says:

    hello Tyler,
    thanks for sharing your views and ideas. My job requires 8hours of continuous computer work. I cant get rid of my glaases during my work in computer. What best can be done?

  12. Avatar for Abilash Abilash says:

    Thank you for your info sir, but I have a question to you, do people suffering from retinal disorders can do eye exercises?
    I have symptoms like blue halos and pain in eye in bright light and doctors said to change my glasses but I feel something terrible happening to my eyes..I request you to give me any suggestions..Thankyou

  13. Avatar for Marina Marina says:

    Mr. Sorensen, I am almost 49 and hated the thought of glasses. I was prescribed them many times and discarded them equal number of times cause I looked awful in them and also for the following reasons. I sweat on my face the most, so would find the glasses moisting and unmanageable. I always ended getting a headache when I wore glasses, as my eyes never got used to looking up and down through the lens to see far and near. I also could never look from the corner of my eye and had to turn my full face to look, which I hated. In frustration I would just take off my glasses and feel better. I was always searching for ways and means to avoid wearing glasses and read a book by Dr. Bates, when I found your website. I am from Goa India so I had a problem to send foreign exchange to purchase your product. My brother from the US gifted it to me for Christmas 2010. My eyesight has greatly improved with it, though I must confess I do follow you vision tips and tricks. I sit in front of a computer screen at work and also have to do figure work as I look after office accounts. Thank you very much for helping me regain my vision without glasses. Everytime I see a person wearing glasses, I feel good about the problems I have avoided.

  14. Avatar for Sandra Sandra says:

    im sad to say….
    but my visison just gets more and more blurred…..
    i mean, i went for an eye test and the no. increased!!!!
    i do all the eye exercises ane eat the recommeneded food…..
    im sorry … but i still have hope

  15. Avatar for Dibyendu Pradhan Dibyendu Pradhan says:

    Nice bit of information.Must prove very helpful to me. Thankyou

  16. Avatar for Monique Monique says:

    Hello Tyler,
    Thank you for the article on REM & sleep.
    As opposed to some of the understandings, the eyes have everything to do with the REM sleep. It has been suggested (or discovered)that the function of the Rapid Eye Movement is the “filing” of the day’s information, mostly gathered by the EYES, and “stored” in a kind of “temp file” of the brain, which during the REM is being “selected” and “distributed” to the adequate memory cells of the brain.
    Too long to explain, but sleep is definitely a very important part of our life since this is the time when our intuitive brain is being most active: that’s why we say ‘let’s sleep on it” and if one is attentive, you have the answer to any problem in the morning, when one is still in Alpha state, and can receive the genuine unbiased responses from our mind, in contact with our inner self, without the interference of our conditioned rational brain.
    Kind regards

  17. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Tyler Sorensen says:

    Hi Jesse,

    Thanks for the suggestion and I’ll definitely look into this. Always looking for the greatest information to share.

    To your vision — for life,


  18. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Tyler Sorensen says:

    Hi Marina,

    That is awesome! We love hearing success stories like yours. Glasses are one of the most frustrating things to deal with and a lot of people can relate. Keep up with the Ocu-Plus Formula to ensure you never have to wear glasses again.

    To your vision — for life,


  19. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Tyler Sorensen says:

    Hi Bharatt,

    A lot of people are in your situation and not able to take off their glasses while at work. I suggest to everyone in this situation to use the 10-10-10 rule. In fact, I wrote an entire blog on it.

    Rebuild Your Vision 10-10-10 Rule

    To your vision — for life,


  20. Avatar for Teri Teri says:

    Hi I really liked reading this blog. I have a 2 year girl and am always keen on all the places she go to during her sleep.

    When she wakes up things are sometimes unhappy with her and it is interesting trying to figure out what happened.

    I know a lot is going on with us. Some mornings I wake up and my vision is calm and clear.

  21. Avatar for Ancil Ancil says:

    Hi Tyler,

    May I know the recommended food?

    Thanks for your support

  22. Avatar for sofia sofia says:

    Hello Tyler,
    Thanks for the information provided.It would be nice if you could give information about the diet required in order to improve vision and avoid spectacles.


  23. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Tyler Sorensen says:

    Hi Sofia and Ancil,

    There are actually a total of 17 vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements that research shows are essential for optimum vision and eye health.

    If you visit the RYV home page at https://www.rebuildyourvision.com and scroll down about a quarter of the way, you will see the list of 17 vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements that should be taken in your daily regimen.

    To your vision — for life,


  24. Avatar for Vaishali Vaishali says:

    hi Tyler,
    thanks for the information….it is really helping me….may one day i can stop wearing glasses….and that day i really inform…

    Thank you.

  25. Avatar for Lindsay Lindsay says:

    Animals do dream in their sleep. I have noticed this sometimes when my dog is barking in its sleep.

  26. Avatar for Erica Erica says:

    Thanks for an informative article.

    I have trouble getting more than five or six hours of sleep without interruption. I can readily go back to sleep within a few minutes when I wake, but wonder whether the total number of hours mentioned for adults must be completely uninterrupted or not?

  27. Avatar for kathy Pollitt kathy Pollitt says:

    Thanks for the information I am just trying your product for the first time. I only haave one eye due to the removal of one of my eyes. I have glaucoma in my other eye and my Dr has said that my optic nerve seems to be inflamed and he did a SLT lazer surgery and is hoping to reduce my pressures which are usually below 14 he says he wants my pressure levels to be at least no more then 10. I hope this helps me.

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