Our bodies can be weird and wonderful. But when the body doesn’t behave as it is suppose to, even if it happens to all of us, we are left wondering – well why did I do that? Here we look at the top 9 body anomalies that most of us experience.
1. Why do we get brain freeze when having something cold?
There is nothing like the extreme cold headache we get when enjoying ice-cream or a frozen drink to momentarily take away our pleasure. It is actually the direct effect of the cold food on the capillaries in the sinuses which causes them to rapidly cool and then rewarm. The pain receptors close by respond to this and we feel this as a headache in our forehead. To stop it occurring drink or eat cold foods slowly giving the roof of the mouth time to adjust. If you have brain freeze put your tongue on the roof of your mouth to warm it up.
2. What is Déjà Vu?
Déjà Vu is the feeling that you have already seen or experienced a certain situation before as it is happening. While some people would like to think of it as a premonition, most scientists think it is just an anomaly in the short term memory that gives us the sensation of it being familiar or already experiencing it even though it is happening for the first time. So it is just our consciousness catching up with our senses.
3. Why do I jerk awake when falling asleep?
You are just drifting off to sleep, recalling what you did that day and you suddenly jerk awake with a feeling like you tripped and were falling. Known as a hypnic jerk or myoclonic twitch, this is relatively common affecting around 80% of the population at some point, though scientists are still trying to understand why it happens. One theory is that as we reach a deep level of sleep, your muscles begin to relax and the brain misinterprets it as falling and tries to rectify the situation. Studies have found that hypnic jerking happens more to people who are anxious, stressed or sleep deprived so get a good nights rest if you want to avoid these!
4. Why is my eye twitching?
You know that twitchy eye feeling you get when you’re tired or run down, we often think the world can see it but it is luckily not obvious to those around us. But why does it happen? Well it is usually a result of being stressed, over tired, prolonged use of a computer screen or over indulging in caffeine but doctors don’t really know why it happens. They think it may be related to a problem with the basal ganglion at the base of the brain which is responsible for controlling small muscle movement. As long as it is only for a day or so it isn’t a problem.
5. Why do we blush when we’re embarrassed?
If you have ever blushed when you’re embarrassed, you will know the betrayal you feel with your own body for letting the world know your feelings. While we know the physical mechanisms that make us blush, scientists are still unsure as to why we have developed this reaction to embarrassing situations. While Charles Darwin described it ‘as the most peculiar and most human of all expressions’, British psychology professor Ray Crozier has come closest to discovering its purpose in his research saying it is a signal to others of how we are feeling, particularly it coveys an apology – that we are sorry.
6. What are those painful calf cramps?
Have you ever been lying in bed when your calf muscle suddenly goes into a spasm? Well if you have you’ll know just how painful it is. This cramping of the lower limbs is also referred to as nocturnal cramps but doctors have been unable to discover why these occur. Some research has suggested it could be a potassium deficiency or dehydration so if you get these often it may be worth having a banana and extra water before you go to bed.
7. Why we yawn if someone else does?
So we all know why we yawn, to help raise our alertness, particularly if we are tired but why is yawning contagious? It seems that this is another one that helps us to fit in socially with a group. Research has shown that those who don’t feel the compulsion to yawn when they see another person do so are less empathic. We may have developed this instinct as a way to fit into a group and coordinate times of activity and sleep. ‘It’s important that all group members be ready to do the same thing at the same time,’ says Ronald Baenninger, who has studied yawning at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
8. Why do we hiccup?
This is another one that baffles the scientists. Some have suggested that it is caused by damage or irritation to the nerves that control breathing and the glottis resulting in a malfunction or hiccups. Others suggest it is a now somewhat redundant feature from when we got around on all fours to as a reflex to protect us from choking on food. Either way they can be very annoying and embarrassing!
9. Why do we cry?
It is not completely known why we cry emotionally (as opposed to when something is in our eye). Some experts believe it is for emotional attachment to other humans – you cry and that evokes an emotion or empathy in another person while other scientists believe it is a stress releaser and stress hormones are actually excreted in the tears.
[picture credits: VegasRob; Zubrow; Alice2]