Long story short, no. You should not nap while wearing contacts.
But allow me to introduce you to Sam. Sam is a contact lens wearer who is skeptical about getting told what to do by some publication on the internet—even one as great as ours 😉. But here’s the deal: if you’ve ever had oozy eyeballs or super blurry vision after sleeping in your contacts, you might be experiencing some of these conditions that contact lens nappers get.
But what about napping? Surely a little 15-minute catnap won’t do any harm. It’s not even enough to feel rested!
Oh Sam, how wrong you are. While it’s true it’s less risky to nap in your lenses than sleep all night, it’s still not a good idea. Your cornea needs oxygen from the surrounding air. When you sleep with lenses in, your cornea can become irritated due to lack of oxygen and become a haven for bacteria. Generally, you should try and avoid depriving your organs of oxygen. Your eyes need to breathe and sleeping in contacts prevents them from doing so.
Seriously? It’s just 15 minutes.
15 minutes might not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things (it’s not even enough time to have a pizza delivered or binge a show on Netflix!). But 15 minutes is plenty of time to do some serious damage to your eyes. When you close your eyes while wearing contacts, your cornea begins to swell and doesn’t stop swelling until you open your eyes again.
So blinking is fine, napping is not.
That still not enough for you, Sam? Here are just two of the most common conditions that can result from napping while wearing contacts. Because, y’know, you’re probably gonna do it anyway and if you find yourself with the below symptoms, you’ll know why.
This condition is the result of bacteria getting trapped onto your eye from sleeping in contacts. It can result in blurred vision, corneal ulcers and in extreme cases, blindness.
Better known by its super fun name “pink eye,” this cuddly infection can cause your eyes to ooze while your eyes become incredibly itchy. Anything that makes your eyes ooze is a bad thing.
Don’t forget that you can also scratch your eyes and do some serious damage trying to pry off dry contact lenses once you wake up. If you do goof and fall asleep with your lenses in, use eye drops (like, a lot of eye drops) to lubricate your lenses again before you try to take them out. But make sure you’re using eye drops specifically for contact lenses. Otherwise, your lenses will suck that moisture right up and you’re back to square one.
I get it, sometimes you “accidentally” fall asleep with your lenses in. But with every nap, you risk seriously damaging your eyes. It’s better to play it safe and take the extra two minutes (I know you have two minutes to spare, Sam) and take out your contacts.
Napping is a pure and beautiful thing, don’t ruin it by wearing your contacts.