Can I Take a Nap with Contacts On? Risks and Precautions

By Adasat Dotcom  •   5 minute read

Can I Take a Nap with Contacts On? Risks and Precautions

Can I take a nap with contacts on? It's a common question for anyone who wears contact lenses. You're tired, you find a cozy spot, and closing your eyes for just a bit seems perfect. The short answer is no, you shouldn't nap with contacts in. Even for brief periods, it can lead to some serious risks.

Can I Take a Nap with Contacts On

Eye doctors strongly advise against napping with your contacts in. Even a short nap can increase your risk of eye problems like irritation and infection.

During sleep, your cornea receives less oxygen because you’re not blinking. This lack of oxygen can cause discomfort and increase the risk of conditions like corneal hypoxia. This occurs when your cornea doesn’t get enough oxygen, leading to potential damage over time.

Additionally, microorganisms like bacteria and fungi can thrive in the low-oxygen environment created by sleeping with contacts. This can lead to infections such as microbial keratitis, which is inflammation and infection of the cornea. Left untreated, these infections can cause serious complications, including vision loss.

Why You Might Be Tempted to Nap with Contacts

Convenience is a big reason you might consider napping with your contact lenses in. Taking out your contacts every time you're tired can feel like a hassle.

Traveling can be another scenario where you might be tempted. Whether you're in a car, on a plane, or using public transportation, napping can help pass the time or provide rest.

Unexpected fatigue during the day might lead you to want to close your eyes without removing lenses. You might feel reassured that it's just a brief period and won't cause any issues.

While these reasons are understandable, it's important to weigh the risks involved in napping with contacts.

The Risks of Sleeping with Contacts

Sleeping with contact lenses can lead to several serious eye problems. These issues include dryness, irritation, increased risk of infection, corneal ulcers, and potential permanent vision damage.

Dryness and Irritation

When you sleep with contact lenses, your eyes do not get enough oxygen. This lack of oxygen can lead to dryness and irritation. Contacts create a barrier, preventing the eye from staying hydrated. Dry eyes can feel itchy and uncomfortable. This problem may worsen over time, making it harder to wear contacts during the day. If you experience redness or a gritty feeling, take your lenses out immediately. Allow your eyes to rest and rehydrate before using contacts again.

Increased Risk of Infection

Sleeping in contacts increases your risk of eye infections. The lenses can trap bacteria and other harmful particles against your eye. These contaminants can multiply while you sleep. This can lead to infections such as conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. 

Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers are open sores on the cornea, the clear surface of your eye. Sleeping with contacts can cause these ulcers to develop. These ulcers are usually very painful and need immediate medical attention. Symptoms include severe redness, eye discharge, and blurred vision.

Potential for Permanent Vision Damage

Continuously sleeping with contacts can lead to more severe consequences. Over time, infections and ulcers can cause scarring on the cornea. This scarring can result in permanent vision loss. You might need long-term treatment to manage these conditions. 

Alternatives to Napping with Contacts

Taking a nap while wearing contacts can lead to discomfort and health issues. Here are some strategies that can help you manage your naps without harming your eyes.

Take out your contacts

Before settling in for a nap, it's best to remove your contact lenses. Ensure your hands are clean to avoid infection. Store your lenses in a clean contact lens case filled with fresh solution. This practice not only keeps your lenses safe but also allows your eyes to breathe and stay hydrated. 

Carry an eyeglass case

Having a spare pair of glasses on hand is always a good idea. Keep an eyeglass case in your bag or at your desk, so you can switch to glasses whenever you're feeling sleepy. This way, you won’t have to worry about the hassle of removing and storing contacts on the go. 

Use lubricating eye drops

If you often experience dry eyes, lubricating eye drops can be a great help. Use drops before taking out your contacts to add moisture and comfort. This can reduce irritation and make the removal process easier. Keep a small bottle with you for convenience. 

When to Consult an Eye Care Professional

If you experience discomfort or redness after napping with contacts, it’s time to see an eye doctor. Common issues can include keratitis and conjunctivitis which can worsen if ignored.

Signs that you need medical attention include:

  • Excessive tearing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Feeling of something in your eye

Using rewetting drops or lens solutions may not always help. Optometrists or ophthalmologists can perform an eye exam to check for infections or ulcers.

If you often nap with contacts, you may need to reconsider your lens type. Extended-wear contact lenses are designed for it, but even these require regular checks with your eye care professional.

How to Wear Your Contacts Safely

  • Always remove your contacts before sleeping, even for short naps. Sleeping with contacts increases the risk of eye infections.
  • Keep your hands clean. Wash thoroughly with soap and water before handling your lenses.
  • Use only the cleaning solution recommended for your lenses. Do not use tap water, saliva, or any other liquid.
  • Avoid wearing your contacts while swimming or showering. Water can introduce harmful microorganisms to your eyes.
  • Follow the prescribed wearing schedule. Overusing contacts can lead to discomfort and infections.
  • Schedule regular eye exams. Your eye doctor can monitor your eye health and the fit of your lenses.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can you nap with contacts in?

Napping with contacts in for a short period, such as 10 to 30 minutes, may not cause severe problems, but it isn't ideal. Your eyes need oxygen, and even short naps reduce the amount of oxygen they receive. This can lead to dryness and discomfort.

Is it safe to take a short nap while wearing daily contacts?

Taking a short nap with daily contacts in is not recommended. Even for brief periods, sleeping with contacts can increase the risk of eye infections and discomfort. Daily contacts are designed for single-day use and are not meant to be worn during sleep.

What should I do if I accidentally fall asleep with my contacts in?

If you fall asleep with your contacts in, remove them as soon as you wake up. Use rewetting drops to lubricate your eyes and switch to glasses for the rest of the day to allow your eyes to recover. Observe for any signs of redness, irritation, or pain.

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