Is it Safe to Sleep in Your Contact Lenses?

Sleeping in contact lenses is a hot topic that often sparks debate among wearers. While some may do it occasionally without issue, eye care professionals generally advise against sleeping in contacts due to potential risks. Let’s take a look at why this practice can be harmful and what precautions you should take to maintain good eye health.

Photo by Meruyert Gonullu

Understanding the Risks

  • Reduced Oxygen: Contact lenses limit the amount of oxygen that reaches your corneas, which are essential for maintaining eye health. When you sleep in lenses, especially those not designed for extended wear, this restriction can become more pronounced. Extended wear lenses are designed differently and allow more oxygen through, but even they have limits.
  • Risk of Infection: Sleeping in contact lenses increases the risk of microbial infection. During the day, your eyes naturally flush out debris and pathogens, but this process is compromised when lenses cover the surface of your eyes for extended periods. Bacteria and other microbes can adhere to lenses and multiply overnight, leading to infections such as keratitis, which can be serious and require medical intervention.
  • Dryness and Discomfort: Contact lenses can contribute to dry eye syndrome, especially if worn continuously without breaks. Overnight wear exacerbates this issue as the lenses can absorb moisture from the eyes, leading to discomfort, redness, and irritation.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio


  • Extended Wear Lenses: Some contact lenses are approved for extended wear, meaning they are designed to be worn continuously, including during sleep. These lenses are made from materials that allow more oxygen to reach the eyes. However, even with extended wear lenses, the risk of infection and other complications increases with overnight use compared to daily removal and cleaning.
  • Consultation with an Eye Care Professional: Your eye care professional can assess your eye health and recommend the best type of lenses for your needs. They may also provide specific instructions on how long you can safely wear your lenses continuously.

Best Practices

  • Follow Proper Hygiene: Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses. Use recommended cleaning solutions and avoid water or saliva to clean or store your lenses.
  • Remove Lenses Before Sleeping: If possible, remove your contact lenses before going to bed. This allows your eyes to breathe and reduces the risk of complications.
  • Regular Check-ups: Schedule routine eye exams with your optometrist to monitor your eye health and ensure your contact lenses fit properly.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki

Sleeping in contact lenses is generally not recommended due to the increased risk of eye infections, reduced oxygen supply to the corneas, and potential discomfort. To maintain optimal eye health, it’s important to prioritize safety over convenience when it comes to wearing contact lenses. If you have any concerns or questions about your contact lens use, always seek advice from a qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist.

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Ivan Yong

Dr. Ivan Yong is an optometrist with over 12 years of experience in the optical industry. He earned his doctorate from the Southern California College of Optometry and has practiced in multiple settings, including private practice, community health, and ophthalmology. Dr. Yong aims to expand access to affordable eyewear and improve eye health worldwide.