Does Sleep Remove Dark Circles? – Check Effective Treatments



Medically Reviewed by

Nana Sebiskveradze – Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)

August 10, 2020


Dark circles under your eyes are not so “wanted friends”, not taking into account that they usually are not a sign of a medical problem.  They are also often called by different names, like: “eye rings”, “raccoon eyes”, or sometimes “panda eyes”. This problem is universal, and it affects both women and men.

But can sleep really help you to remove those dark circles?

During deep sleep, your body works to repair muscle, organs, and other cells. Chemicals that strengthen your immune system start to circulate in your blood and your body systems (biological systems that carry out specific functions necessary for everyday living) step-by-step become “ready” for the next day.

To keep the dark circles away, you might need to sleep more than you usually do, because dark circles under the eyes are usually caused by being tired.  Sleep might help remove the dark circles under your eyes. From the medical point of view, the most significant cause for the dark circles might be genetic, but, lifestyle-related issues might also play a role.

Primarily, it would be best to prevent the dark circles from forming. To do that, it is necessary to find the real reason for this problem. Is it because of lack of sleep, or are there some other reasons stimulating formation of the dark circles?

What Different Factors May Cause Dark Circles?

There are basically two kinds of dark circles:

Brown

and 

Blue

Do You Have Brown Dark Circles?

If the dark circles under your eyes are of brown colour and quite permanent by nature, the cause is most likely hereditary. If either one or both of your parents have similar (brown) dark circles under the eyes, this might be the reason why you also have them.

Unfortunately, hereditary dark circles are impossible to get rid of by sleeping more, or by any other treatment. The only options might be to use makeup or to go to surgery, which you can read more about later on.

How About If Your Dark Circles Are Blue?

In that case, the simple reason is just that more blood is pooling under your eyes. These blue, dark circles are usually more clearly visible in the morning time.

Especially, if you notice that the dark circles come and go depending on the amount of sleep you get, and they are bluish in colour and quite small, they are likely the kind of dark circles which can be controlled by sleep and lifestyle changes.

In the case of bluish dark circles, lack of sleep can really play an important part. For example, if you usually stay up too late, it might cause (blue) dark circles.

Poor Circulation in the body may cause the Red Blood Cells in your blood to accumulate in the thin vessels under your eyes. Due to the fragile nature of the vessels, this leads to their rupture and will cause bruise-like patches under your eyes.

Swelling around the eyes is caused by excessive fluid accumulating (called edema) in the surrounding skin tissue. Because the skin around the eyes is very thin, swelling and discoloration can be quite noticeable and exactly in the morning, – after you wake up. Often they make you look more tired.

Can Sleeping on Your Stomach Cause Dark Circles?

If you sleep on your stomach with your face down, it may cause dark circles, because lying down allows fluid to pool in your face. The skin is thinnest under the eyes and the blood vessels here localised closer to the surface. So, becoming filled up, such accumulation leaves this area puffy and darker. For the same reason, sleeping on your stomach may also cause eye puffiness. So if you are a stomach sleeper, you might want to try another sleeping position to alleviate your problem.

Does Sleeping on Your Side Cause Dark Circles?

If you usually sleep on your side, and you have a habit of sleeping on the same side, the area under the eye that is on the side on which you sleep might be puffier and darker than the area under the other eye. The reason, also in this case, is gravity.

Trying to sleep on your back might be an ideal solution, because it will prevent the fluid build-up under your eyes.

Does Sleeping Too Much Cause Dark Circles?

Possibly. Sleeping too much might, in some cases, be a more likely cause for dark circles than lack of sleep. If you are lying in bed for a very long time, you might have more fluid retention on the facial area. In particular, the fluid accumulates under your eyes, where the skin is usually thin and tissue – loose. The superficial veins in such tissues will also widen causing even more dark circles because of bluish undertone.

But if you don’t stay in the prone (chest down and the back-up) position for too long, gravity will pull those fluids in your body down towards your stomach and legs, distributing it more naturally.

Does Sleeping With the Lights on Cause Dark Circles?

No. However, sleeping with the lights on might disturb your sleep, and if your sleep is interrupted, it might cause significant lack of sleep. That is why you should consider sleeping lights off, if it is possible for you. [1]

Non-Sleep-Related Reasons That Cause Dark Circles

Lifestyle is often the most common reason for formation of dark circles under the eyes. Not only lack of sleep, but also smoking, too much alcohol or even eating the not helpful assortment of food might cause dark circles. 

Sun exposure can also create dark circles under the eyes, by increasing the melanin content. The skin in this region can pigment more than the surrounding skin because it’s more sensitive.

Allergies result in inflammation that expands the tiny blood vessels under eyes. As a result these swollen blood vessels rub against the thin skin of the eyes and dark colour appears. 

Blocked nasal passages also cause dark circles. The veins from the eyes to the nose become dark and dilated.

A stuffy nose (Blocked nasal passages) can also provoke formation of the dark circles. How does that happen? When you have nasal congestion, the veins from the eyes to the nose undergo dilation which causes shaded circles around the eyes.

If you are pregnant, don’t be surprised if you have dark circles under your eyes. It is because the hormonal changes dilate the blood vessels under your eyes, and might also darken your skin.

Any hormonal changes might promote the formation of dark circles. 

Smoking can be considered as risk factors for formation of dark circles. The nicotine in tobacco disrupts your natural sleep patterns, which can cause fluids to collect beneath your eyes.

Dark circles can be caused by significant under-eating and, in some cases, overeating to the point of flooding the body and its systems. It can also be seen as a result of binging and purging behaviour, especially if you are purging everything you eat. So if you have dark circles under your eyes, start eating the correct portion sizes and the correct foods for your body chemistry. [2] 

You have to remember that aging undoubtedly also affects your eyes. As you get older, your skin becomes thinner. You also lose fat and collagen needed to maintain your skin’s elasticity. As this occurs, the dark blood vessels beneath your skin become more visible inducing to form the under-eye circles.  

But let’s get back to the original question:

Does Sleep Remove Dark Circles?

In some cases, sleep might remove dark circles, but usually not entirely. If your dark circles are blue, and you can sleep more, it may help. But keep in mind that if you sleep too long, it can make things even worse, as explained earlier.

How Does Sleep Help You to Get Rid of Dark Circles?

Depending on the cause of the dark circles, sleep may help remove this dark bluish tint under your eyes. Sleep helps your body and cells recover, so all in all, sleep will do well for you. In some cases, getting more sleep helps, and at least getting the right amount of sleep won’t make your dark circles any worse. 

But as mentioned earlier, if the dark circles are of a genetic origin in your case, sleep won’t likely remove the dark circles under your eyes.

Anyway, it would be better to sleep enough,

So that the problem does not get worse.

The point is that the combination of genetic dark circles and the “lack of sleep” dark circles could make for an even worse problem.

If the cause is related to too little sleep, you should make some changes in your schedule so that you can sleep more. If you can get the right amount of sleep, you have a better chance to keep the area under your eyes less dark.

Does Going to Sleep Earlier Reduce Eye Bags?

It is possible. It is always highly recommended to go to sleep early. If you want to make sure that you won’t get any unwanted eye bags, it is better to go to sleep early.

Basically, you might think that sleeping as much as possible would help. But it would not be practical and not even healthy to sleep exceptionally long. However, going to sleep early is a good habit.

At What Time Should You Go to Sleep?

The best sleeping time is usually before midnight, if it is possible for you. Therefore, try to go to sleep as early as possible. If you feel that going to sleep earlier is hard for you, you might decide to change your sleeping schedule gradually.  Everyone has their own natural Biological Clock (circadian rhythm). Step by step accustoming to a new “sleep routine” will not affect your inner hormonal balance and secretion of melatonin (a hormone that makes you sleepy). 2-3 hours shift of a “regular regimen” is not hard to achieve. Anyway, you should not make any changes that don’t feel good to you. [3]

You will notice the difference if you try to go to sleep earlier for one week, for example:

You could take a picture of your eyes before you start the test, and then again, after the one-week test period. This way you can notice the difference, and you can see if going to sleep earlier helps prevent the dark circles.

How Much Sleep Do You Need to Remove Dark Circles?

It depends on each individual, how much sleep is enough to remove or reduce dark circles. It is said that the average amount of sleep is around eight hours. But is it the right amount for you? You might need more sleep, if you still feel exhausted after eight hours of sleep. Then, sleeping more might help you get rid of the dark circles. Also, taking a daily nap may help you remove dark circles.

However, if you are not sure how much sleep you need every day, you can do a test:

When you have a vacation (for at least one week), you can calculate your natural sleeping time. Just sleep without an alarm clock. After a couple of nights, your sleeping rhythm should even out, and you can start to calculate how many hours you sleep every night. That is the average amount of sleep that you would need.

What specific actions can you do to avoid dark circles?

How Can You Avoid Getting Dark Circles Under Your Eyes in the First Place?

To help your skin recover, sleep is one of the most effective remedies. But as mentioned, you can’t prevent hereditary dark circles.

In the daytime, your skin works hard during the day to guard against external stressors, sunlight, bacteria and toxins entering the body. Cellular repair increases during your sleep. At night, it switches from defence mode into a time of intense regeneration where it begins to repair itself on a cellular level; essentially creating new, fresh skin cells.

At night, cell regeneration happens about eight times faster. This way, lack of sleep might cause dark circles, because the skin cells don’t have enough time for effective regeneration.

You can take some actions to make the dark circles less visible:

  • Sleep with your head slightly elevated, so that fluid won’t accumulate on your face. Keep your pillow a bit higher, or get an extra pillow.
  • You may try to put a spoon in the fridge, and place the cold spoon under your eye for some time. This might help the swelling go down.
  • If you have any problems with falling asleep, you might want to shut down any electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime, and drink warm milk.
  • Using eye cream may help. Use the cream during the night to prevent dark circles and puffy eyes.
  • Makeup. You can hide the dark circles with makeup, if no other tip helps you. With some practice, you might be able to hide the dark circles well.
  • If you are a stomach or side sleeper, you might want to try to sleep on your back to prevent dark circles. It might be hard at first, but you might succeed if you get the right kind of a pillow under your knees.

When to See a Doctor?

” If discoloration and swelling appear under just one eye and seem to get worse over time, talk to your primary care doctor. “ [4]

How to Remove Dark Circles Naturally?

If you notice that even sleeping enough doesn’t help to get rid of dark circles, what can you do?

  • Avoid salt. Too much salt makes you susceptible to water retention. This also affects the area around your eyes. Lower the amount of salt to minimum, to help reduce the dark circles and puffiness under your eyes. As sodium is the main mineral in salt, avoid foods that contain much sodium, such as chips or any other processed food.
  • ·Avoid caffeine and keep your room dark, in order to help you to fall asleep easier.
  • Drink lots of water. Water is always good for your health, and it keeps fluids on the move.
  • If you have a habit of smoking, stop smoking permanently. Having a break or reducing it won’t be enough. You have to quit smoking entirely to prevent dark circles under your eyes.
  • It is crucial to have enough good sleep, even in the daytime. If you take naps at least once a day, it could help you to prevent these problems with under-eye circles. [5]

Using a facial mask may also help, so you might want to try out these natural facial masks:

Raw Potato Slices

  1. Chill the potato in the fridge
  2. Cut the potato in thin slices
  3. Clean the skin under your eyes
  4. Put the potato slices on your eyes, so that they cover the area of the dark circles
  5. Keep the slices on for at least 20 minutes (or if it feels comfortable, you can keep them overnight)
  6. Repeat three times a week

Potato and Tomato

  1. Peel and slice a potato
  2. Chop a tomato
  3. Use a blender to mix the potato and the tomato, making a smooth mixture
  4. Clean the skin under your eyes
  5. Apply the mixture, using a cotton ball
  6. Repeat daily [6]

Cucumber Juice

  1. Make cucumber juice by putting two cucumbers in a blender
  2. Go to bed and lie down on your back
  3. Dip cotton pads in the juice, and place the cotton pads on your eyes
  4. Keep the cotton pads on your eyes for five minutes, and then change the pads
  5. Repeat this four times, keeping the pads on your eyes for 20 minutes in total
  6. Repeat daily [7]

Rose water is considered to be great for lightening rigid dark circles.

  1. Take a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of cold milk
  2. Put 2 tablespoons of cold rose water in it
  3. Dab the cotton ball into the mixture
  4. Leave it for about 20-25 minutes
  5. Apply the mixture under your eyes and allow it to stay for some time [8]

 Apple Peel

  1. Boil an apple for 10 minutes, so that it is soft
  2. Cut the peel from the apple and store it
  3. Put the apple peels under your eyes and keep 10 minutes
  4. Do this twice daily [9]

Almond Oil

  1. Wash your face and dry properly
  2. Pour a few drops of almond oil onto your fingers
  3. Spread the oil under your eyes and gently massage
  4. Leave the oil on overnight
  5. Repeat every night for six week [10]

How Can You Get Rid of the Dark Circles by Surgery?

It is also possible to get surgery to remove dark circles under your eyes. Eyelid surgery is one viable option to get rid of dark circles. You should consult with a doctor to see if this option might work for you.

What Happens in That Kind of a Surgery?

There are two different types of surgery: One kind of surgery removes fat from inside the eyelid. In the second kind of option, surgery removes not only fat, but some of the excess skin, too.

Is It Reasonable to Go to Surgery, Is It Worth It?

It depends. The surgery might remove the problem for a long time, but if you don’t make any lifestyle changes, the problem might come back. There is also a possibility that the results will not be as good as expected.

Just like in all surgeries, there are many risks involved. So you have to think it through very carefully, before you decide to go to surgery.

However, eyelid surgery is probably the most effective treatment for dark, because the benefits can be long-lasting. [11]

The Best Sleep Mask for Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes?

Dark circles and puffy eyes often coexist. To get rid of the puffiness, it might be helpful to use a proper sleep mask or a gel eye mask. You can check out these sleep masks and select the one that is best for you.


Sources:

[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/dark-circles-under-eyes/basics/causes/ sym-20050624 

[2] http://www.hauserdiet.com/health-articles/a-lack-of-nutrients-can-cause-you-to-have-dark-circles-around-your-eyes/

[3] https://www.nigms.nih.gov/education/fact-sheets/Pages/circadian-rhythms.aspx

[4] https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/dark-circles-under-eyes/basics/when-to-see-doctor/sym-20050624

[5] https://www.sleepadvisor.org/how-to-get-rid-of-dark-circles/

[6] https://homeremediesforlife.com/potatoes-for-dark-circles/

[7] http://www.homeremediesforall.com/how/cucumber-to-remove-dark-circles.html

[8] https://food.ndtv.com/beauty/heres-how-rose-water-can-do-wonders-for-your-eyes-1824673

[9] http://www.mysimpleremedies.com/home-remedies-to-remove-dark-cirles/

[10] https://www.healthline.com/health/almond-oil-for-dark-circles

[11] https://www.consumerhealthdigest.com/eye-skin-care/dark-circles-surgery-is-it-right-for-you

Accessed August 10, 2020.

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