Baby Sleeps With Eyes Open: What Expert Say About It

Our babies are adorable yet weird creatures. One day they're sleeping like any human should; the next day you see them sleeping with eye open.

Is that normal?

Well, we've seen a lot of adults sleep that way too, haven't we?

Nonetheless, it's still nice to know if we should shrug it as something that will pass away someday or we should be worried about his development.

So here's what I found out about it.

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​“Zombie Kid”: Sleeping With Eyes Wide Open

Nocturnal lagophthalmos is the medical term used for babies sleeping with eyes open, also called as “Zombie Kid” syndrome. It may appear disturbing the first time  you see this, but don’t worry, most likely your child is just fine.

Nocturnal lagophthalmos is fairly common in babies and usually disappears on its own at around 12 – 18 months. Before this time, baby sleeping with eyes open is considered normal.

In adults, however, nocturnal lagophthalmos is considered a type of facial paralysis, particularly a certain muscle in the eyelid.

​What Makes My Child Sleep With Eyes Open?

sleeping baby on the mattress

As previously mentioned, nocturnal lagophthalmos is fairly common in babies. They usually outgrow it in between their first and second birthday.

Should you be alarmed?

No. 

This is not a cause for alarm for kids, but parents must manually close their baby’s eyes.

Why?

Your baby’s eyes can dry out and get scarred over time if the eyelids are always just partially closed.

Nocturnal lagophthalmos is caused by:

1. Tiredness

You will most likely observe your little one sleeping with eyes open during the times when he/she is too tired. It may be past his bedtime, and he just passed out due to sheer exhaustion.

2. REM sleep  

Some babies open their eyes during their deep sleep phase, also called the REM sleep cycle. Your child might be actively dreaming during this time. You may also observe him/her smile or laugh, which is just alright.

REM sleep is longer in babies than in adults, so you may see your little one's eyes open most of the time.

This is harmless and fairly normal. If you are bothered by this, just put your hands on baby’s eyelids and gently close it.

3. Genes 

Ask your parents or your in-laws if you or your partner tends to sleep with eyes open at your baby’s age. This condition is usually inherited but, again, is not a cause for concern.

4. Short or weak eyelids  

It is rare but also possible that your child is born with short or weak eyelids, also called congenital ptosis. Weak eyelids cannot cover the eyes entirely during sleep. Thus part of the eye is exposed.

5. Medical conditions

Aside from nocturnal lagophthalmos, sleeping with eyes open may also be caused by damaged facial nerves, thyroid problems, or tumors. 

These are rare occurrences, though, and it usually happens in adults. But it is still better to be safe than sorry.

​What Shall I Do If My Baby Sleeps With Eyes Wide Open?

1. Turn off lights 

Turn off lights in her sleeping area when she's sleeping. If there are other light sources like windows or other openings, cover them.

2. Humidifier

Add humidifier in the sleeping are to avoid dryness or damage to the cornea suggests the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

3. Medical grade hypoallergenic tape

Use medical grade hypoallergenic tape to keep the eyes closed. But take note that you can only use this upon your doctor's advice.

4. Avoid using ceiling fans 

If you have no other option, make sure to turn it down when your baby is sleeping.

Conclusion

As I said before, this condition is considered harmless in babies. This is not a sleep problem and not a cause for concern. This usually resolves on its own as your baby grows.

But:

If your baby wakes up with red eyes and seems to rub them vigorously, chances are your child has dry eyes due to this strange sleep habit. If she is also unusually sensitive to lights, you have to do something about it.

Better seek advice from a pediatrician or an ophthalmologist if your baby’s eyes appear irritated or if this condition persists longer than 18 months of age. 

Your doctor will tell you if your baby will be needing a comprehensive eye exam, which may include the Schirmer test. This test is used to measure tears.


Sources:

Sarah Morgan
 

Chief editor of WellBeingKid.com and striving mom-extraordinaire.Let me share and inspire you with my daily struggles to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.

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