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November 1, 2021

Sleep Importance for Myopia Control & Management

Why Healthy Sleep Pattern is Important?

Healthy sleep patterns are very important for child development. Sleep plays a critical role in learning and memory, emotional regulation, and related brain structure development. Poor sleep or not enough sleep affects concentration, memory, and behavior. Children who don’t sleep well are more likely to feel sleepy at school during the day and to have difficulties with learning. Although the significance of sleep is well-established, the importance of sleep hygiene and ocular health is often overlooked and there is a lack of discussion around this topic.

Sleep is critical for brain health and as the eyes are an extension of our brains it makes intuitive sense that sleep would also be vital for our ocular development. In fact, there is emerging evidence that there is a link between sleep and childhood myopia. 

Importance of Sleep for Myopia Control & Management

The majority of myopia studies that investigated the effect of sleep focused primarily on the duration of sleep in that shorter sleep duration was associated with an increased risk and severity of myopia. A study of 3,625 Korean teenagers (age range 12 to 19 years) reported that subjects who had more than nine hours of sleep were 41% less likely to be myopic compared to those who slept less than five hours per night. 

In addition to the duration of slumber, the time of onset of sleep was also shown to be a significant factor in other myopia research. Another study identified that later bedtimes were a constant risk factor for higher prevalence, higher incidence, and greater progression of myopia in children. 

Sleep is an important component of the body’s internal clock or circadian rhythms, which are 24-hour cycles that our bodies run on, to carry out essential functions and processes. One of the most important and well-known circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cycle which is regulated in part by light exposure detected by our eyes. Special photosensitive ganglion cells found in the retinal tissue at the back of the eyes are stimulated by bright light especially in the blue light spectrum. This in turn causes suppression of the hormone, melatonin, which our brain releases at night to prepare our bodies for sleep.

Therefore, exposure to bright light prior to bedtime, particularly to blue light, would trigger melatonin suppression and consequently cause disturbance to sleep. This is why it is important to try and avoid things like digital devices with bright screens at least an hour prior to bedtime in order to allow for proper melatonin secretion and better sleep.

Animal studies demonstrated that regular light/dark or wake/sleep cycles are critical for normal ocular growth, and changes to this cycle would result in shifts in refractive error (this is what is measured when prescribing glasses). In human studies, genetic factors controlling circadian rhythms were identified to be involved in myopia development.

There is mounting evidence that there is a complex relationship between sleep or circadian disturbance and myopia even if we do not yet fully understand the mechanisms at play. Therefore, in good myopia management, it is important to encourage healthy sleep habits such as going to bed early, reducing bright light exposure prior to bedtime, and getting the recommended 9-11 hours per night in school-age children.

If you are looking for a myopia doctor in Calgary, CA, you can book an appointment with Eyedeology for professional eyecare services.

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