The struggle to get some shut-eye can be an uphill battle at times. You could be logging in a lot of hours at work, prepping a big presentation or project, and running on fumes. Or you could be dealing with some things in your personal life that are taking up a lot of your time and effort or just keeping you up at night with worry. Oh, and there's my favorite type of sleep obstruction: when you have all the time in the world to sleep (aka a full eight hours), and you just can't drift off. Blame the endless Instagram scroll or your brain's need to consider the meaning of life at 1 a.m.—we've all had those sleepless nights.
A lack of sleep can cause a lot of inconveniences, so to speak. You might feel so tired throughout the day, making you less alert and not quite present, which can spell trouble at work or school. It can make you irritable or more sensitive. (Anyone ever just cry from sheer exhaustion?)
And it can really screw with your appearance, too. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine cited a study that found people who were sleep-deprived had paler skin, more wrinkles or fine lines, and droopy corners of the mouth. The eyes and the skin surrounding them seemed to be the hardest-hit—some experienced hanging eyelids, redder eyes, dark circles, and puffy or swollen eyes.
All of the above are big annoyances, but puffy eyes might be one of the hardest to conceal or hide. So you might get a lot of comments from "helpful" people that can sound like, "You look tired. Are you okay?" If you've got a good response for this, inquiring minds want to know.
But the thing about having puffy eyes is that there are a lot of reasons you're experiencing them, and it doesn't just have to do with a lack of sleep.
Aside from a lack of sleep, the reasons for puffy eyes can run the gamut. Ashley Brissette, MD, MSc, FRCSC, an ophthalmologist at Weill Cornell Medicine/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), told our sister site THE/THIRTY that some of the causes might be related to eye health, but others might be related to health elsewhere in the body.
Some causes include allergies, irritants (like cigarette smoke or perfume), dry eye, and styes. Additionally, puffy eyes can be the result of aging or changing skin. "As we get older, the skin can become a little more stretched, and then the fat which is usually around the eye can migrate forward, and it can become more apparent," Brissette told THE/THIRTY.
If you can narrow down the cause of your puffy eyes, you can work to find a solution or way to relieve the condition. If it's allergies or irritants, then in some cases, you can take medication, avoid triggers, and even use allergy eye drops. If it's dry eyes, you can apply lubricating eye drops.
The Mayo Clinic also provides these suggestions:
1. Apply a cool compress to your eyes.
2. Limit how much you drink (water, alcohol, etc.) before you go to bed, which will help with fluid retention in the eyes.
3. Don't smoke.
4. Get enough sleep.
5. Sleep with your head slightly elevated, which can prevent fluid from accumulating around the eyes.
And in addition to trying out all of the above methods for relief, you can also reach for eye creams. There are so many formulas out there that can soothe any swelling while providing extra benefits like anti-aging properties and ultra hydration. We've rounded up some below based on our favorites and the best-reviewed products on the market.