If you have a newborn baby, you may have noticed that sometimes they sleep with their eyes open or partially open. This may seem strange or even alarming to you but don’t worry, it is quite normal and harmless. In this article, I will explain why some newborn sleeping with eyes open, what causes it, and what you can do about it.
Why Do Some Babies Sleep with Their Eyes Open?
Sleeping with the eyes open or partially open is a condition known as nocturnal lagophthalmos. It is more common in babies than in adults, and it usually occurs during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. REM sleep is the stage of sleep where we dream and our eyes move rapidly under our eyelids. Babies spend more time in REM sleep than adults, so they are more likely to sleep with their eyes open.
There are several possible reasons why some babies sleep with their eyes open, such as:
- Heredity. Sleeping with the eyes open may run in the family. If you or your partner sleep with your eyes open, your baby may inherit this trait too.
- Developing nervous system. Babies’ brains and nervous systems are still developing, and they may not have full control over their eyelid muscles yet. This may cause their eyelids to spasm or not close completely during sleep.
- Birth abnormalities. In rare cases, some babies may have congenital defects that affect their eyelids or facial nerves. This may prevent them from closing their eyes fully or at all.
Is It Harmful for Babies to Sleep with Their Eyes Open?
In most cases, sleeping with eyes open is not harmful for babies. It does not affect their sleep quality or quantity, and it does not indicate any serious health problems. However, there are some potential risks or complications that you should be aware of, such as:
- Dryness. Sleeping with the eyes open can cause the eyes to dry out and become irritated or inflamed. This can lead to redness, itching, burning, or discharge from the eyes.
- Infection. Dry and irritated eyes are more prone to infection from bacteria or viruses. This can cause conjunctivitis (pink eye), blepharitis (eyelid inflammation), or keratitis (corneal inflammation).
- Damage. Severe dryness and infection can damage the cornea (the clear layer that covers the eye) and impair the vision. This can cause scarring, ulceration, or perforation of the cornea.
How to Help Your Baby When They Sleep with Their Eyes Open?
If your baby sleeps with their eyes open, there are some things you can do to help them and prevent any problems, such as:
- Keep the air humid. Use a humidifier or a vaporizer in your baby’s room to add moisture to the air and prevent their eyes from drying out.
- Avoid irritants. Keep your baby away from smoke, dust, pollen, chemicals, or other substances that can irritate their eyes or trigger allergies.
- Clean their eyes. Gently wipe your baby’s eyes with a damp cloth or cotton ball to remove any crusts or discharge that may accumulate during sleep.
- Apply eye drops or ointment. If your baby’s eyes are dry or irritated, you can use artificial tears or lubricating eye drops to moisten them. You can also use an antibiotic eye ointment if your baby has an infection. Consult your doctor before using any eye products on your baby.
- Close their eyelids. If you want to close your baby’s eyelids when they sleep, you can gently press on their eyelids with your fingers until they close completely. Do this only when your baby is in deep sleep and not during REM sleep.
- See a doctor. If your baby’s eyes are red, swollen, painful, or have pus or blood in them, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Your baby may have a serious eye condition that needs medical attention.
Do newborns have seizures or REM sleep?
Researchers in the field of user interface (UI) studies have a theory that the movements observed in infants during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep are intricately connected to their sensorimotor development. According to this theory, when an infant twitches in their sleep, these movements play a crucial role in activating various circuits within their developing brain. This, in turn, helps newborns in the process of understanding and learning about their limbs and their capabilities.
Is it normal for newborns eyes to roll back?
As your baby transitions into wakefulness or begins to drift off to sleep, she enters what is referred to as State 3. During this phase, you’ll notice her eyes rolling back, and her eyelids may start to droop. She might also engage in activities like stretching, yawning, or making sudden movements with her arms and legs. After awakening fully, she will progress into one of the three remaining states. In State 4, your baby may be completely awake, appearing cheerful and attentive, yet relatively still and not very active.
How do I know if my newborn is in deep sleep?
In the deepest phase of sleep, infants exhibit minimal movement and remain quite still. Their breathing adopts a more consistent and regular pattern, and they become less responsive to external stimuli, making it harder to rouse them. While in this state, they may occasionally exhibit reflexive sucking motions or moments of being startled, but these actions are unlikely to disrupt their slumber.
Conclusion of Newborn Sleeping with Eyes Open
Newborn sleeping with eyes open is a normal and harmless phenomenon in babies that usually goes away as they grow older. It is caused by various factors such as heredity, developing nervous system, or birth abnormalities. It does not affect their sleep quality or quantity, but it can cause dryness, irritation, infection, or damage to their eyes if left untreated. You can help your baby by keeping the air humid, avoiding irritants, cleaning their eyes, applying eye drops or ointment, closing their eyelids, or seeing a doctor if needed.
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