Why Do My Eyes Water When I Lie Down

watery eyes when lying down"

Tears are essential for keeping your eyes moist and free from harmful debris. Produced by lacrimal glands, tears drain through ducts located on the inner side of your eyes, connecting to your nasal passages. Any condition that either increases tear production or interferes with tear drainage can lead to watery eyes. This issue is particularly noticeable when lying down, as gravity no longer assists in guiding tears to your ducts. Below are specific reasons why your eyes might water when you lie down.

Why Do My Eyes Water When I Lie Down?

It’s common for tears to accumulate more when you’re lying down compared to when you’re upright. Certain health conditions that cause excessive tear production or block tear ducts can exacerbate this issue.

Effect of Gravity

Your tear drainage system relies on both active and passive mechanisms. Blinking creates negative pressure in your tear ducts, drawing tears in. Gravity then helps guide the tears toward your ducts. When you lie down, gravity’s assistance is lost, leading to tear buildup in your eyes.

Facial Pressure

Lying on your side can cause your eyes to open slightly due to pressure from pillows or bedding. This can dry out your eyes, leading to increased tearing afterward. Adjusting your position to avoid direct contact with your pillow may help alleviate this issue.


Yawning often causes your eyes to water. This is thought to be due to the scrunching of muscles around your eyes, which puts pressure on your lacrimal glands. Since you’re more likely to yawn when tired, this often occurs around bedtime.

Dry Eyes

According to the National Eye Institute, nearly 16 million Americans suffer from dry eyes. One common symptom of dry eyes is excessive tearing, especially noticeable when lying down since gravity doesn’t aid in clearing the extra fluid. Causes of dry eyes include:

  • Exposure to dry air or wind
  • Allergies
  • Medications
  • Age-related changes
  • Wearing contacts
  • Prolonged screen time

Blocked Tear Duct

A blocked tear duct, often seen in children, prevents tears from draining properly, causing them to build up in the eye. Blockages can be partial or complete and are caused by:

  • Birth defects
  • Age-related changes
  • Injuries
  • Infections
  • Tumors

Blepharitis, Pink Eye, and Other Infections

Various eye infections can lead to excessive tearing, including:

  • Blepharitis: Inflammation of the eyelid due to infections, eyelash mites, medications, or oil gland dysfunction.
  • Pink Eye: Infection causing red, inflamed eyes, caused by viruses or bacteria.
  • Stye: Painful lump near the eye from a blocked gland.
  • Tear Sac Infection (Dacryocystitis): Infection of the lacrimal sac, part of the tear drainage system.

These infections can worsen symptoms when lying down due to reduced tear drainage.


Ectropion, the outward drooping of the lower eyelid, leads to excessive tearing. Causes include:

  • Aging
  • Injury
  • Rapid weight loss

Symptoms of ectropion include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Irritation
  • Burning
  • Chronic pink eye
  • Redness

Do Everyone’s Eyes Water When They Lie Down?

Not everyone experiences watery eyes when lying down, although it is common due to the lack of gravity assisting tear drainage.

Should Tearing While Lying Down Be Treated?

In most cases, tearing resolves on its own and isn’t a sign of a serious condition if no other symptoms are present. Seek medical attention if you experience:

  • Persistent watery eyes
  • Headaches
  • Tenderness around your nose
  • Unexplained bruising around your eyes
  • Red, swollen, or painful eyes
  • Discharge or bleeding from your eyes
  • Vision changes

How to Prevent Watery Eyes When Lying Down

You can reduce tearing by:

  • Propping your head on a pillow
  • Taking breaks from screens to prevent dryness
  • Treating infections promptly
  • Using artificial tears for dry eyes
  • Taking antihistamines for allergies
  • Consulting your doctor if watery eyes are a side effect of medications


Watery eyes when lying down is common due to the absence of gravity aiding tear drainage. While it’s usually not serious without other symptoms, consult a healthcare professional if you have vision changes or signs of an infection.


Why do my eyes water more when I lie down?

Lying down removes gravity’s assistance in tear drainage, causing tears to build up.

Can yawning cause my eyes to water?

Yes, yawning can pressure lacrimal glands, increasing tear production.

What are some common causes of dry eyes?

Dry air, allergies, medications, aging, and prolonged screen time are common causes.

How can I prevent my eyes from watering at night?

Prop your head up on a pillow, treat dry eyes, and avoid eye infections.

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