Why Does Your Baby Sleep With Eyes Open – Is it Normal

If you’re like most parents, you love to watch your baby sleep. There can be something so comforting about seeing the rise and fall of their little chest as they lie peacefully slumbering. But what about when your baby appears to be staring back at you?

Yes, you read that right. What if your baby sleeps with their eyes open? This can seem like something out of a horror movie, and friends have likely never mentioned their children sleeping this way.

Should you wake them up? Call the doctor? Let them continue to sleep? Before you grab the phone and start dialing an emergency number, allow us to help you relax!

Is it normal?

Before you get too nervous about your baby’s health, it may be helpful to know that this is not as uncommon as you may fear. In fact, there’s even a medical term for it, nocturnal lagophthalmos.

Most of the time nocturnal lagophthalmos in babies is actually physiological lagophthalmos, meaning there is no medical cause, and there are no symptoms from sleeping with the eyes partially open.

While the medical name may seem long and technical, the fact is that it’s fairly common in both adults and infants.

One older review article notes an estimate that 1.4 percent of the population sleeps with their eyes open, and up to 13 percent have a family history of nocturnal lagophthalmos.

If your baby also sleeps with his eyes open, it could be because of the following reasons.

1. Genetics

If your baby sleeps with eyes open, it could be hereditary. You can look into your and your spouse’s family history to ascertain if anyone in the family sleeps with their eyes open. If you, your spouse, or immediate family members share this trait, it is very likely your baby will too.

2. Medical Reason

If nobody in your family has a history of sleeping with their eyes open, it could be due to medical conditions, such as nocturnal lagophthalmos. It is quite harmless and does not continue for more than a year to a year and a half. In rare cases, it might be because of thyroid problems, damaged facial nerves or even some tumours. If you find that your baby is unable to sleep with his eyes closed for extended periods of time, please consult your doctor.

Is Sleeping With Eyes Open Harmful for a Baby?

Sleeping with eyes open might look odd and worrisome, but it is completely normal and harmless. In fact, your child’s paediatrician will even tell you that they see this condition regularly and it does not concern them at all. Research suggests that this mode of sleeping is during the active phase of the sleep cycle, known as Rapid Eye Movement or REM. Newborn sleep consists of long periods of REM than adults, making up over half of their entire sleep time. As they grow older, their sleeping patterns become more like adults, meaning they wake up less during the night and are less fussy during nap time.

When to call the doctor

Under normal conditions your baby should outgrow this condition, eventually.

If they’re sleeping with their eyes just slightly or partially open, it is not likely cause for concern, but perhaps something to bring up at your baby’s next well visit.

If you are concerned your baby seems to have any other symptoms, or if their eyes are more widely open, then check in with your pediatrician sooner.

In the rarest of cases, sleeping with eyes partially open may be due to birth defects that impact your little one’s eyelids. In that case, it’s important to work with their doctor to get your baby the treatment they need. You’ll also want to seek treatment if their eyes seem dry and irritated.

If, after seeing your baby sleep with their eyes open, your partner reports that you also sleep with your eyes open, you’ll want to see your doctor to rule out any medical problems associated with adults who sleep this way.

Source:parenting.firstcry.com, healthline.com

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