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Is it possible to sleep with your eyes open? © Getty Images

Is it possible to sleep with your eyes open?

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Think of all the extra reading (or binge watching) you could do if your eyes stayed open all night. Or maybe not.

Asked by: Richard Kim, via email


Not normally, but there is a condition called nocturnal lagophthalmos where a sufferer is unable to shut their eyelids when asleep. According to one review, this occurs in up to 5 per cent of adults. This can be due to a variety of factors, including protruding eyes or abnormalities of the eyelids.

There are also cases in which the cause has not been established. Noctural lagophthalmos can lead to certain difficulties, from sore eyes to more severe problems such as the development of ulcers on the cornea. Do talk to your doctor if you are waking up with red or sore eyes or have been told by someone that you sleep with your eyes open.


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Alice is a Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths. She has contributed to several diverse research areas, including the longitudinal associations between sleep and psychopathology, behavioural genetics, sleep paralysis and exploding head syndrome. In addition to her scientific contributions she also excels in the public engagement of science. She has published two popular science book (Nodding Off, Bloomsbury, 2018 and Sleepy Pebble, Nobrow, 2019). She regularly contributes articles to the media and has had her work published in outlets including the Guardian, GQ UK, Sud Ouest, Slate Fr, Independent.


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