Dark Circles and Sleep (Guest Post)

For those who have trouble sleeping, the paranoia of looking noticeably tired increases. People suffering periods of bad sleep worry that they will develop dark circles around the eyes. Yet while a lack of sleep can cause darkness around the eyes, this isn’t the case for everyone and not the sole reason for dark circles.  In fact, there are times when I’ve had a week of deep restful sleep, only for someone to remark that I look very tired.  And there are other times when I have hardly slept at all and run into someone I know who remarks on how well I look. So if those dark half moons are caused by lack of sleep, then why do they not disappear after we sleep solidly for 8 hours? And how come some people sleep less than you or I and don’t suffer from dark circles under the eyes?

The truth is that lack of sleep will give the majority of people puffy eyes, which will reduce in appearance as the day continues. The eyes may also appear slightly bloodshot and dimmer in color. But if you suffer permanently from dark circles under your eyes no matter how much you sleep, this condition is likely to be caused by one of a number of factors outside of sleep.

Bags Vs. Dark Circles

The sensitive skin around our eyes becomes baggier as we age and some people experience fatty/fluid deposits under the eyes commonly known as ‘bags’.  It is said that bags are hereditary and DNA determined, but research has shown that diet plays a big role in how predominant bags become and how young they are developed. Bags are entirely different to dark circles. Some people have bags that are the same colour as the skin, and others prone to dark circles naturally develop darker bags. The bottom line is that with age we all experience a sagging of the skin around the eyes and cosmetic surgery is the only permanent cure for this.

Dark circles on the other hand, in the majority of cases, are hereditary. Skin type, colour and the shape of a person’s face also contribute to how predominant dark circles appear. For example, if you have deep-set eyes or a larger than average nose, dark circles will be more noticeable. However, it should be noted that if you are predisposed to dark circles, consistently poor sleep will accentuate their appearance, and the less you sleep the harder it will become to reverse the condition.

Possible Causes of Dark Circles

There are a variety of possible different reasons for dark circles around the eyes, with hereditary disposition being the primary cause. In the list below I have documented possible causes in order of likelihood based on my own personal research.

1. Hereditary Predisposition
Some people have a hereditary predisposition to dark circles, and without realising it you may be predisposed to leaking weak capillaries around the eyes, which cause the appearance of dark circles.

2. Stress
Everybody suffers from stress at one time or another. You will know from experience that when you are stressed people tell you that you look tired. Lower your stress levels through relaxation methods and positive mind training to ease the appearance of dark circles.

3. Excess Sugar
“You Are What You Eat”, it is as simple as that.  Research has shown that cutting down on processed sugar-laden foods makes eyes, hair and skin more healthy and radiant looking.

4. Excess Alcohol
Like excess sugar, too many nights drinking and you are likely to see an increase in dark circles. This is due to the nutrients being drained from your body by the toxicity of alcohol.

5. Dehydration
Dehydration affects the appearance of skin and its elasticity. With 75% of the population unknowingly dehydrated, it is no wonder the skin around our eyes looks so tired. Start drinking more water and the skin around your eyes will rehydrate and appear healthier.

6. Hay Fever and Dust Allergies
Hay Fever and dust allergies cause people to excessively rub their eyes. This breaks down blood vessels in the skin around the eyes and makes the appearance of the skin darker.


It isn’t just bad sleepers who suffer from dark circles around the eyes. In fact many bad sleepers don’t suffer this problem at all. Dark circles are down to a number of contributing factors, but largely hereditary disposition. Worrying about looking tired will only seek to make you look more tired and encourage dark circles to appear. I recommend reducing stress levels and spending less late nights on the laptop straining your eyes. Eat more protein and take a supplement that contains Keratin, which helps rejuvenate skin cells. You may also try simple treatments such as using fresh cucumber or tea bags on the eyes for 10 minutes at a time.

If you are predisposed to dark circles and are having trouble sleeping, I recommend a course of good sleep hygiene to optimize your sleep and set your body clock to sleep faster, deeper and longer during the correct hours.

This is a guest post by Peter Litchfield.

Peter Litchfield is an expert on sleep hygiene therapy and the natural cure of insomnia. He is also the author of the popular better sleep book Six Steps To Sleep Now

The Sleep Blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Instead, this website provides general information for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider if you have questions or concerns regarding any medical condition or treatment.