We all know that the world we live in is high energy and high stress. We’ve all gotten used to the hectic pace but that doesn’t mean it’s easy! Sometimes our lifestyles can have unintended consequences such as one of the most irritating (but least serious) eye issues.
Lid twitches or as they’re known in heavy medical textbooks, blepharospasms, are nature's way of telling you to take a break. They are almost always caused by stress or lack of sleep but can be caused by nutritional imbalances, alcohol or caffeine. For most of us when lid twitches happen they drive us crazy and we just want them to stop. The frustration we experience from a lid twitch usually makes the twitch worse! What I typically recommend to my patients experiencing a twitch is to get some rest, try and eliminate stress, grab a banana, some yogurt and lay off the coffee for a few days. Why a banana and yogurt? Bananas are a great source of potassium which is key for the proper functioning of our nerves. We believe that not having enough potassium can cause the nerves to react badly leading to a twitch. Yogurt is packed with calcium which is important for our muscles to work properly. Again the thought here is that if you don’t have enough calcium things will get twitchy. So that part is pretty easy. When I tell patients to stop being stressed and get some more sleep they usually give me a look seems to say “I have six projects with deadlines next week, four kids under the age of six and my car just broke down.” Fair enough. Here’s my trick to help. Get a cloth and run some nice cool water over it. If you can lie down that’s best, but if not take a seat in a dark or dimly lit room (hide in the bathroom if you have to), hold the cool cloth up over your eyes and take deep breaths. This sounds a bit hokey and dismissive but there is a scientific rationale behind this. Cold slows down, even if only slightly, the nerve transmissions as well as slowing the muscle contractions. This can slowly reduce how often and how strongly you feel the lid twitching. Deep breaths, those deep belly ones, use a muscle called the diaphragm. The diaphragm is connected to our ‘rest and digest’ nervous system and not at all to our ‘fight or flight’ nervous system. That means that using your diaphragm forces your body to slow down and relax. It’s the same reason people recommend deep breathing when angry or upset. This also can help immensely to slow or stop entirely that lid twitch.
So next time your lid starts to twitch just remember that it doesn’t help to get angry and frustrated. Go take a break and relax. You deserve it!