While evolution may itself remain a mystery and a question for some, the fact that our body has evolved to cope with the changing times is not often countered. How often have we been on the verge of sleeping after an exhausting day and woken up with a jerk? Or perhaps, cursed our hiccups for not stopping when you’re trying to focus on solving a problem? Sometimes, our body seems to be acting on its own accord. However, there is usually a reason for most of our body’s actions. Here are a few of the body’s common actions and the science of reason behind it:
Recent research has proven that yawning is not an idiopathic as we previously believed. Yawning helps to thermoregulate our brain. Essentially, it helps to keep our brain ‘cool’. This is also why we yawn when we are sleepy or bored; they are associated with our brain’s temperature fluctuations.
This is also the reason for what we know as ‘contagious yawning’. People in the same room yawn because they are experiencing the same temperature. When your professor or boss reprimands you for yawning in the middle of a class or meeting, just let them know its happening as they are boring!
When the diaphragm is irritated, it spasms which causes those annoying hiccups. The irritation is the result of a disturbance in the nerve pathways between the brain & the diaphragm which explains why we hiccup when we are stressed or experiencing some emotionally charged situation. Too much excitement, anxiety, eating too much, swallowing a lot of air are some of the reasons for the cause of the irritation. So, the next time someone says that you’re hiccupping because your loved one is missing you, just spread some knowledge, will you?
3. Pruned fingers & toes
This is why you need to love evolution (again, if you believe in it!). You may have noticed your fingers & toes wrinkling, or more specifically- pruning- when they’ve been wet for more than 5-10 minutes. This pruning, according to neurobiologists is to enable man to have a better grip on surfaces in wet conditions. Perhaps, the man of millenniums gone by needed better grip to climb trees and mountains as it rained!
This is why most characters hiding from a goon in some movie are caught: they sneeze at the wrong time. Although this involuntary action may be ill-timed, it is quite a handy defence mechanism of our body. When an irritant such as pet dander, pollen, smoke, dust, or other allergen enters our nose, we sneeze so that these potential health hazards don’t reach our lungs and other internal organs to contaminate them. At around 93mph, the rate at which our nose expulses air is no joke. Take a bow, nose!
If checking your Facebook notifications is not the first thing you do on waking up, the only other thing you must be doing is stretching. But why do we almost instinctively stretch on waking up? Science says this is because when we sleep, some fluid tends to accumulate along our back. Stretching is our body’s way of carefully directing this fluid back to its original place. Furthermore, stretching helps to realign your muscles after it has spent a considerable amount of time being inactive and to get the blood flow going.
6. Hypnic jerks
You may have cursed these as you try to sleep after a long day at work. Just as you are on the verge of falling asleep, your body suddenly decides to wake you up like a jerk, with a jerk. No, you shouldn’t be cursing your body for it simply because it thinks it is trying to save you.
Just as we are falling asleep, our body relaxes, and our breathing slows down. To our body, this sudden change in pulse and body relaxation is a sign of dying, and that’s why our brain decides to wake us up with an electric shock-like jolt.
See? Our body is way more protective of us than we give it credit for.