Can I sleep or nap with contact lenses in?

Medically reviewed by Tina Patel, Contact Lens Optician at Feel Good Contacts.

What happens if you accidentally sleep with contacts in?

If your contact lenses are not specifically made for overnight and extended wear use, you run the risk of doing some damage to your eyes if you sleep with your contact lenses in. It is important to always remember to remove your contact lenses before you sleep at night. Sleeping with your contact lenses can lead to a variety of different issues from minor irritation, to serious infections.

Dry, red and gritty eyes

If you fall asleep with your contact lenses in, you may find upon waking up that your eyes are dry, red and gritty. Opening your eyes initially, you may feel a slight soreness and feel a crusty build up around the eye, particularly along the lashes and the inner corners of your eyes.

Eye infections

Contact lenses can collect dirt and debris and harbour infections if not removed, cleaned and disinfected daily if they are monthly or 2 week contact lenses, or disposed of after a single use if they are daily lenses. This can lead to temporary/permanent vision loss and corneal abrasions (scratches on the surface of the eye). Sleeping with lenses in also puts you at a much higher risk of contracting corneal infections, such as microbial keratitis.

A common infection is conjunctivitis (more commonly referred to as pink eye) which causes a red and aggravated appearance. Conjunctivitis is not usually painful and can be easily treated with prescribed or over the counter eye drops. It usually clears up within a few days and can be caused as the result of wearing contacts incorrectly.

Can you nap in daily contacts?

Many contact lens wearers are guilty of taking a nap in their contact lenses but unfortunately this can still irritate and damage your eyes. Even taking a nap in daily contact lenses is a bad idea, despite being able to throw them away at the end of the day. So, nap lovers are recommended to remove their contacts before taking a nap, even unplanned ones.

Can you sleep in contacts for 1 hour?

Sleeping in your contact lenses for even just an hour can be detrimental to your eyes. For some, their eyes can be more sensitive than others and react differently. It's not worth the risk when it comes to your eyes and doctors do not recommend sleeping in contact lenses period, even if it is just for an hour.

What to do if you sleep with your contact lenses in?

If you have fallen asleep with your contact lenses in, do not immediately try to pluck them out of your eyes when you wake up. You may notice that your eyes are either very dry, or some people experience build-up and a mucus-like feeling on the eyes. Blink a few times and give them a few moments to naturally re-moisture and have a glass of water to help rehydrate yourself. You should wait at least 5-10 minutes before you attempt to remove the lenses, as removing them too quickly can damage the cornea. Inserting eye drops can be helpful to rehydrate the lens before removal.

As always, make sure to wash and dry your hands before handling your contact lenses and carefully remove the lenses out of your eyes. Dispose of the lenses if they are daily contacts and make sure to properly disinfect the lenses if they are monthly or two weekly lenses. Soak the lenses in multi-purpose solution or peroxide solution for at least six hours to disinfect.

You may also want to avoid wearing lenses for the rest of the day to allow your eyes to recover. Your eyes would have likely dried out and may feel tired and irritated. If possible, wear glasses.

Are there lenses you can sleep in?

If you wish to wear lenses overnight, you should opt for extended wear contact lenses.

Extended wear lenses allow you to wear your lenses for an extended period of time, including when you are sleeping, without removing them. This is particularly useful for people who lead busy lifestyles and don’t want to clean and disinfect their lenses every day. It is highly important that you speak to your optician about whether or not extended wear lenses are right for you and wear them under the supervision of a qualified optician. You should also monitor the condition of your eyes each day, looking for signs and symptoms of infections or changes to the health of your eye.

At any point during wearing extended wear lenses, if you feel that they have accumulated some build-up of dirt, remove them and clean them.

Extended wear lenses are made from silicone hydrogel. A much more breathable material, silicone hydrogel allows an increased level of oxygen in the eye. Extended wear lenses are available as weekly and monthly lenses, it is important to always follow the advice given by your optician.

If you are guilty of sleeping or taking a nap in your contact lenses, browse our range of extended wear contact lenses online at Feel Good Contacts and for any questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact us.

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