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Posted Jun 10 2009 6:43pm


With the arrival of daylight savings, did you wake up all bleary and puffy eyed? Sometimes more than a java jolt is required to give you the kickstart to your day. 

In fact, near 20 percent of adults in the United States report a level of daytime sleepiness sufficient to interfere with daily activities, and excessive daytime sleepiness is the leading symptom of patients presenting to sleep clinics. The prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness is highest in adolescents, older persons, and shift workers.  

Excessive daytime sleepiness can have diverse and serious consequences. Sleep problems contribute to more than 100,000 motor vehicle incidents that result in 71,000 personal injuries and 1,500 deaths annually. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, up to 52 percent of single vehicle crashes involving heavy trucks are fatigue-related, with the driver falling asleep in 17.6 percent of cases. Most sleep-related crashes involve adolescent and young adult male drivers. Sleepy adolescents also have significantly lower levels of academic performance, increased school tardiness, and lower graduation rates than other students. Daytime sleepiness has been linked to poor health on several standardized measurements, including impairment in all domains of the Medical Outcomes Study short form health survey (36 items). It has also been associated with compromised professional performance, including that of physicians and judges. Reduced cognitive function related to excessive daytime sleepiness can affect the ability to gain or maintain employment, because patients with excessive daytime sleepiness may be misperceived as lazy or unmotivated.

Excessive daytime sleepiness can occur secondary to sleep deprivation, medication effects, illicit substance use, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and other medical and psychiatric conditions.

Sleep deprivation is probably the most common cause of excessive daytime sleepiness. Symptoms can occur in healthy persons after even mild sleep restriction. Studies that restricted healthy adults to six hours of sleep per night for 14 successive nights showed a cumulative significant impairment of neurobiological functions. Symptoms of sleep deprivation can occur after only one night of sleep loss, and persons who are chronically sleep deprived are often unaware of their increasing cognitive and performance deficits. Paradoxically, most types of chronic insomnia (including primary insomnia, psychopathological insomnia, and paradoxical insomnia) are associated with daytime hyperarousal rather than excessive daytime sleepiness. The presence of excessive daytime sleepiness in a patient with insomnia suggests a comorbidity such as a s leep-related breathing disorder or a mood disorder.


The skin around our eyes are thin and loosely attached to the underlying bone, and devoid of any sebaceous glands. Hence it has much potential to retain fluid in that area, resulting in puffy eyes. Fluid retention can be normal (physiological), or may have an underlying sinister cause. Normal causes are gravity (you do sleep horizontal at night, so body fluid redistributes and accumulates there), crying, menstruation, pregnancy and aging. As aging occurs, skin collagen production decreases, and the muscles that hold the eye and skin weakens. The skin around the eye starts to lose its tautness and starts getting baggy. Any fluid accumulation will accentuated this bagginess. Other causes can be due to medical conditions such as allergy reactions, eye infections, certain medications, visual problems like glaucoma or fluid problems due to thyroid illness, heart or kidney failure. Some people inherit eye bags. Environmental causes play a role too-insufficient sleep, excess alcohol consumption, smoking, dust and eye irritants and too much salt in the diet can all lead to puffy eyes. But despite the cause, puffy eyes can occur at any age! Don’t fret, there are ways to get around this.

It is important to identify the cause of your puffy eyes. Majority of causes are due to physiological and environmental causes. These usually resolve over the course of the day. Sometimes a second pillow under your head at night to prop up your head can make a difference. If you suspect anything wrong with your eyes, please consult a doctor and get the correct treatment!


To delay the onset of undereye sagging due to aging, I would recommend a daily gentle massage with a good eye cream or  moisturizer. Not to mention massaging helps to drain out any fluid retention in the eye area immediately. Masage your eyes out to your temples for about 5 minutes daily. With regular attention to eye care, your eyes can appear younger and brighter than your real age. Eye exercises can also help tired eyes- my school was a strong believer in eye exercises for better eyesight and better health and dedicated 10 minutes of assembly time to eye exercises everyday! Here’s a great instructional page of the eye excercises I  used to do in school. These exercises can also be done with eye cream. I actually would not recommend oils or any substance not meant specifically for the eye area as the eyes are very sensitive and any perfumed lotion or oil can irritate the eye further. You can also try using a coconut oil or olive oil on the temples and neck. A reminder here too, to  always be gentle to the skin around the eye. Tugging and pulling at the skin around your eyes can cause damage.

Other lifestyle modifications you can achieve to help reduce puffy eyes include reducing salt and alcohol in your diet, getting sufficient sleep in a well ventilated room, hydrating yourself with enough water, reducing sun exposure, reducing stress and eating foods rich in antioxidants.  

Some home remedies for puffy eyes

  • Splash cold water onto your eyes in the morning when you wake up.
  • Use cold compress- ice in a bag, iced water, milk- on closed eyelids for 20mins can do wonders!
  • Use teabags. Caffeine is a natural diuretic, which will flush excess fluids out of your body’s system, taking the puffiness along with it. It is also a vasocontrictor, which means it shrinks blood vessels, reducing the swelling and fluid leak into the eyebags. It can be used hot or cold- soak the teabags  in water for 5 minutes, then wrap a soft cloth around the bags and put them to your eyes for 10 minutes.
  • Cold cucumber slices. This must be the classic, and oldest remedy, and the favourite of many supermodels! 
  • Cold spoon. If you don’t happen to have any of the above handy, a cold spoon can do the job too. It loses the chill quickly, so you may want to consider putting a few spoons in at a time, and rotating them back into the chiller as they warm up.

Some products and makeup tips for puffy eyes


  • Skin-bleaching ingredients like hydroquinone- to use under medical supervision.
  • Products with Vitamin K or retinol (stimulates skin cell turnover) 
  • Laser treatment like Fraxel, Thermage or IPL Photofacial
  • Surgery to remove or modify undereye bags
  • Fillers  like Juvederm, Restylane and Radiesse to fill hollow areas
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