We all do it: we wake up and immediately wipe the “sleep” from our eyes.
But what is “sleep,” and why do we get it? Professionals call it “mattering,” less commonly known as “rheum,” but no matter the name, we all know it when we see it.
According to Dr. Ivan Schwab, M.D., a professor of ophthalmology at the University of California Davis School of Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “sleep” is discarded cells, mucus and debris—including bacteria, bits of oil from the eyelids, and dust.
When we sleep, our eyelids push tears across our eyes, picking up different materials in the process. The debris then collects in the corners of our eyes and on our lids, creating “sleep.”
Don’t Just Wipe the ‘Sleep’ from Your Eyes
Putting your finger directly in your eye is asking for infection, yet it’s second nature to wipe away the night’s “sprinkles” as soon as you awake. Although “sleep” is common, you should pay close attention to its consistency. Those who don’t wash off their eye makeup each night are at risk for infection and even pinkeye.
A small amount of eye discharge is harmless, but if you notice a change in color, amount, or consistency, you need to consult an eye doctor. If your eyelids are stuck together, a warm, wet washcloth can help “unglue” them.
Manage the “Eww”!
Is “sleep” clean? Schwab says that it’s not sterile—nothing on your body really is, including the surface of your eyes, or even the surface of your skin. Practice good hygiene at home, like frequent hand washing, to avoid or manage “eye boogers,” and avoid touching and rubbing your eyes!
Consult an eye doctor if you begin to notice a change in your usual “sprinkle,” and do your best to avoid touching!
Find a bed that makes you feel good,