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Why Are My Eyes Dry When I Wake Up?

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A woman rubbing her eyes after waking up.

Waking up with dry eyes can be disconcerting and lead to irritability and discomfort throughout the day. Our eyes rely on a consistent layer of tears to maintain their lubrication and clear vision. A multitude of factors can contribute to waking up with dry eyes, including:

  • Less blinking while you sleep
  • Your bedroom environment
  • Allergens
  • Medications
  • Chronic dry eye conditions

Starting the day off with lubricating eye drops may be enough to relieve the occasional dry eyes in the morning. But it may be a good idea to consult your eye doctor if it persistently happens, especially if you’ve tried some home remedies, as there may be more at work than dry air or an allergy. Your eye doctor may be able to recommend a tailored approach, such as intense pulsed light therapy, for effective symptom relief.

Understanding Dry Eyes in the Morning

There isn’t often a single best answer to why your eyes are dry when you wake up because multiple factors could be at play. Here are a few things to consider.

Less Blinking During the Night

During sleep, our blinking rate drastically decreases. Blinking is one of our eyes’ natural ways to spread tears across the cornea. So, a lower blink rate can contribute to insufficient tear distribution, leaving us with parched peepers upon waking.

The Bedroom Environment

The humidity levels in your environment can affect your eyes. Dry air can increase the evaporation of the tear film, exacerbating dryness. Your eyes could be more sensitive to changes in environmental humidity if you have dry eye disease versus occasionally having dry eyes.


Allergens and irritants can inflame the eyes and interrupt the body’s natural tear production. Dust mites, pet dander, and pollen are common offenders. These allergens are often found within the confines of our bedroom, whether from having pets or leaving the window open to let the fresh air in.


Certain medications, including antihistamines and decongestants, are known to dry out mucous membranes. If you’re waking up with dry eyes and you’ve recently started a new medication, it’s worth investigating the potential side effects. Your doctor may be able to offer an alternative medication that doesn’t pose an increased risk for dry eyes.

Eye Health & Dryness

Chronic dry eye conditions such as meibomian gland dysfunction and Sjogren’s syndrome can lead to persistent dryness. If morning dryness is recurring, it may indicate an underlying eye health concern. Discuss this with your eye doctor to receive an accurate diagnosis.

Prevention & Remedies

In the same way that many things can cause dry eyes, there are many options for relieving symptoms. Some can be accomplished easily at home or with over-the-counter products, but others require an eye doctor.

A man drinking water from a glass in front of a mirror.

Stay Hydrated

Staying well-hydrated is essential for maintaining a healthy tear film. Taking care of your overall hydration status, especially before bed, can counteract some prominent dehydration effects.


A bedroom humidifier can be a game-changer. Maintaining a consistent humidity level in the air can help prevent the rapid tear evaporation that occurs with dry indoor air, especially during the cooler months.

Allergen Avoidance in the Bedroom

Addressing allergens in your bedroom environment, such as using hypoallergenic bedding and regularly cleaning the space, can significantly reduce eye irritation and dryness. It’s also a good idea to keep windows closed, especially during high pollen times.

Blinking Exercises for Eye Health

Blinking exercises can help reestablish a healthy tear film distribution. Simple exercises involving conscious and frequent blinking can be an effective way to prevent morning dryness.

Seek an Eye Doctor’s Help

It’s important to seek the advice of an eye care professional if home remedies don’t seem to alleviate your dry eye symptoms in the morning. They can diagnose any underlying conditions and provide targeted treatment for the root cause of whatever is causing your symptoms.

Importance of Eye Health

Addressing dry eyes isn’t just about maintaining comfort, although that’s a large part of it. Talking to your eye doctor is also about preserving your vision. Chronic dryness can lead to several uncomfortable complications, ranging from corneal abrasions and conjunctivitis to the inability to wear contact lenses or even trouble keeping your eyes open to see clearly.

Talk to Your Eye Doctor About Your Dry Eyes

Waking up with dry eyes can be a persistent annoyance, but it’s vital to recognize it as a symptom that requires attention. By understanding the causes, prioritizing prevention, and seeking help if necessary, you can help your eyes start each day as healthily as the rest of your body.

Give us a call at Vision Care Center today to book an appointment if you’re dealing with persistent dry eye symptoms. One of our optometrists can examine your eyes, review your symptoms, and offer a tailored treatment plan that keeps your eyes feeling fresh.

Written by Vision Care Center

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Find us just south of the Sheridan & Glen intersection, on the same side of the road as Marco’s Pizza and across the street from Walgreens.

To contact our Vision Therapy department, please call 309.670.2020 ext. 2, then choose Option #2 to be directed to VT.

  • 4727 N Sheridan Road
  • Peoria, IL 61614


You can find our office on North Cummings Lane, right next door to Rock Valley Physical Therapy. We offer plenty of parking in front of our clinic with accessible parking stalls.

To contact our Vision Therapy department, please call 309.670.2020 ext. 2, then choose Option #2 to be directed to VT.

  • 1009 North Cummings Lane
  • Washington, IL 61571
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