Why do I wake up with puffy eyes in the morning?


Lucy Hill
Eye Health Advisor
@AVogelUK
Ask Lucy


03 April 2019

1. Too much salt

The first thing that could be responsible for your early-morning puffy eyes is too much salt! Did you know that when your diet contains too much sodium, this encourages your body to retain fluids? This is because there’s a delicate balance between sodium and potassium in the cells; when too much sodium enters the cells, water follows in order to dilute it. This can often lead to bloating and cells becoming full of excess water.

If your puffy eyes are a result of fluid retention and too much salt in the diet, they will tend to be worse in the mornings. This is because we don’t drink water throughout the night while we’re sleeping, thus our body can become very dehydrated come morning.

Cut back on your salt intake and instead try seasoning your food with herbs and spices. Your salt receptors can become overwhelmed if you eat too much salt on a regular basis; by cutting back, you’ll start to appreciate smaller doses of salt and other seasonings. Our Low Salt Herbamare would be an great substitute here!

My top tip: Watch out for sneaky sources of salt! You might not think you’re consuming too much salt because you don’t add it at the dinner table. However, table sauces and condiments are notorious for extra sugar and salt content, so be wary of these.

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2. Allergies

Another reason you might be waking up with puffy eyes isn’t to do with your diet but your sleeping habits. You may be suffering from an allergy which is causing your body to produce histamine. This can cause inflammation, itching and redness in response.

So, if you’re waking up with puffy eyes in the morning, you could be allergic to something in your bedroom. Have you recently bought new bed sheets, tried a new fabric softener, or picked up an unfamiliar plant for décor? Any of these could be prompting a histamine response and causing your puffy eyes.

On a similar vein, if you like to sleep with the windows open, pollen and allergens from outside could be the culprit! Try sleeping with the windows closed to see if this helps with your morning symptoms. You can use an electric fan or invest in some lighter bed sheets if you get warm during the night.

My top tip: Itchy or irritated eyes can benefit from our Extra Moisturising Eye Drops. These can be used while wearing contact lenses to soothe your eyes if they have become irritated. Plus, if you’re reacting to pollen and other allergens, you can try Pollinosan, our natural remedy for allergies and hayfever.

3. Lack of sleep

Of course, it might not be an outside irritant which is making your eyes puffy and uncomfortable in the morning. Rather, a lack of sleep at night could be the reason behind your swollen, sensitive eyes.

If the sleep you’re getting at night isn’t enough, or isn’t a good quality, then you might experience an increase in fluid and blood retention around your eyes come morning. This is especially true if your puffy eyes are often accompanied by dark circles or bags under your eyes.

My top tip: If you struggle to get to sleep at night then a good sleep routine can make a big difference. Start winding down in the evening at least an hour before you go to bed; avoid using your mobile phone or tablet as these can disturb your natural sleep cycle by giving off an unnatural blue light. Taking a bath or shower before bed can also help to prepare your body for sleep by lowering your temperature and encouraging your body to prepare for sleep.

4. Eye conditions like conjunctivitis

Puffy or swollen eyes can also be caused by certain eye conditions. Conjunctivitis, for example, is normally the result of an infection but it can also be caused by an allergy or contact lenses. Other symptoms you might also notice alongside puffy eyes include itching, redness and sticky discharge.

The most important thing to remember when suffering from conjunctivitis is to keep your eyes clean! Gently washing your eyes with warm water and an eye wash can help to clean the discharge from your eyes; make sure to wash your hands well before and after touching your eyes, and use a clean facecloth and towel. You should also avoid wearing contact lenses or makeup, as these will encourage the growth of bacteria and can slow down the healing process.

Infective conjunctivitis can be highly contagious, while allergic and irritant conjunctivitis are not. Nevertheless, it’s important to always wash your hands before and after touching or cleaning your eyes. Don’t share facecloths or towels in case your infection spreads.

My top tip: A.Vogel Eye Drops can be used to soothe irritation and discomfort, and are safe for use while suffering from conjunctivitis. These contain Euphrasia which has been shown to aid in the recovery of conjunctivitis.1 Euphrasia may be particularly useful in cases where conjunctivitis is caused by a viral infection, as regular antibiotics will not work for this. 

5. Sleeping with contact lenses in

This is a huge no-no when it comes to looking after your eyes, and for good reason. Sleeping with your contact lenses in can encourage bacteria to grow in the tiny gap between the lens and the surface of your eye. Needless to say, this can cause a host of eye issues, not just puffy eyes!

My top tip: Don’t do it! Make sure to always remove your contact lenses before bed. If you feel like your contact lenses are irritating your eyes then you can try our Eye Drops, or you can take a break from contacts and wear glasses when your eyes feel extra sensitive.

6. Drinking too much alcohol

You might find that you always seem to wake up with puffy eyes the morning after a heavy night of drinking alcohol. While this will probably mean you didn’t get your full eight hours (see lack of sleep above!), this could also be down to dehydration.

In a similar process to when you consume too much salt, when your body becomes dehydrated, it saves up as much water as it possibly can and stockpiles it for the future. This can often lead to bloating and fluid retention. As your body swells with excess water, the skin under your eyes can retain fluid and cause puffy, dark circles. 

My top tip: You can try raising your head a little higher with an extra pillow at night to encourage the excess fluid to drain from around your eyes. Plus, more importantly, you should intersperse your pints or cocktails with water. Avoid double drinks measures as you can end up drinking more than you originally intended, and quicker than you expect! This can leave you feeling extra rough the next day and can contribute to signs of dehydration like puffy eyes. 

7. Not drinking enough water

This tip follows on from the last, as you can be dehydrated even without touching a drop of alcohol. If you don’t regularly drink water, your body will go through the same motions and stockpile liquid – hello puffy eyes!

This can be especially pronounced in the morning if it’s been a whole 8 hours since you went to bed, and even longer since you last had a sip of H20. If you’re concerned about needing the loo throughout the night, you can stop drinking around an hour before bed. 

What’s more, you should avoid drinking tea or coffee in the evening as these can act as a diuretic and stimulate your bladder to release urine more frequently. Excreting all of your precious water before bed and spending 8 hours in a liquid-less slumber won’t help your morning eye bags!

My top tip: If you struggle to drink enough water during the day, setting yourself a small reminder on your phone or work computer can encourage you to have a glass every hour or so. Rather than investing in an intimidating water bottle, try to drink little and often to keep your body hydrated and prevent those nasty puffy eyes!

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11152054

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