If you’ve ever woken up with a jerk from what feels like a deep sleep because you felt like you were falling, then you most likely just experienced a phenomenon called the Hypnagogic Jerk. The name itself sounds like a mouthful, but it’s the term used to describe a brief and sudden involuntary contraction of the muscles that usually happens when you’re just about to fall asleep. This reaction, which is completely out of your control, causes you to jump and wake up suddenly for a brief period of time.
Hypnagogic jerk, sleep start, night start, or even sleep twitch are just some of the names this phenomenon goes by, but why it even happens remains shrouded in mystery to sleep researchers. Some people believe they occur as a result of overconsumption of caffeine, sleep deprivation, vigorous exercise right before bedtime, or even stress. In contrast, others theorize that this startle response occurs similar to a hiccup and happens in tandem with other sleep-related events, like dreams of falling, which the brain can interpret as actual falling, engaging the startle response.
Good and bad bacteria are fighting it out in your guts.
In the grand scheme of things, we always see that polar opposites coexist in a delicate balance: the dark and the light, the good and the bad, the yin and the yang. The same thing is true in the ecosystem of the body. While we know bacteria are usually harmful, that is not always true. Case in point: your gut is the territory of both bad and good bacteria, and how healthy your guts depend on the balance struck between the two as they fight it out in your belly.
Gut flora is waging war in your intestine. You can use this term for both good and bad bacteria of varying types, all of which number in the trillions. Disgusting as it may sound, their presence in your gut has protective and metabolic functions. How? First, strengthening the intestinal lining that keeps harmful bacteria from getting into the bloodstream and causing disease. Next, by helping the body process fermentable fibers as well as synthesize essential vitamins. So while the thought of the mere existence of bacteria in your body may cause a dry heave or two, it’s the kind of gross thing that you just might be thankful to be hanging on to.
Your stomach lining expires and regenerates itself every two weeks.
As human beings, we are constantly changing. We change our minds daily, alter our opinions, overhaul our image, transform our lives, and modify and adapt to situations and challenges. It is not surprising that our bodies do the same. Every cell in our body literally dies while we generate new ones. It is a constant cycle of birth and death which means that our bodies are made up of entirely different cells every seven years. Other parts of our body each regenerate at a different pace. The skin, for example, regenerates every two to four weeks, but by far, the quickest to turn over a new leaf are the cells lining our stomach and intestines.
Compared to the rest of the body, the epithelium, which lines the digestive tract, regenerates fastest with a neck-breaking speed of every five to seven days. But while that fact in itself is startling, what’s even more surprising is how this regeneration happens. Just imagine all the acid the stomach produces to break down all the food you’ve eaten. That acid is strong enough to burn holes through the stomach if not for the surface layer of epithelial cells. They are constantly dissolving and replacing to protect the stomach’s deeper layers. Talk about taking one for the team!
Organs with a sense of smell? While the thought of your insides dotted with little noses can be a bit unsettling and even downright creepy, it is a little-known fact that organs such as your heart and lungs, even your blood, actually have the same olfactory receptors as the ones found in your nose. This literally makes it possible for them to take a whiff of whatever’s in the vicinity, be it a repellant odor like toxins, or an attractive one, not unlike that cheeseburger you might just have had for lunch.
Strange as it may seem, this newly discovered sense of smell in organs that are not the nose could send people scrambling for their brains. Whatever happened to the idea that organs specialize? Eyes see, ears hear, noses smellâ¦ Well, it looks like that function does not belong solely to them anymore if a handful of internal organs can do it as well. One such organ is the kidneys, which research reveals to have smell receptors that can sniff out danger in the body. This allows them to make blood pressure changes as a sort of protective maneuver to steer the body away from whatever poses a threat. Pretty cool, huh?
While the image of your muscle tissue ripping and tearing like paper is about the last thing you want to see in your head, this actually happens more frequently than you are aware of. It doesn’t hurt as much as you think, except in a select number of cases. Muscle ripping is the common reason for the soreness you feel after a workout, and it is also the key factor in the development of greater muscle strength. This is precisely why extremely muscular people, such as weightlifters and athletes, are called “ripped.” Working out and conditioning literally “rips” their muscles and, in the process, strengthens them.
Before you say “ouch,” keep in mind that the tears caused by strenuous activities such as weight training are microscopic. However, these tiny tears in the tissue actually pave the way for the growth of muscles. Like a strange little game of whack-a-mole, the body constantly allows your muscles to get shredded. That is, only to rebuild these torn tissues by fusing muscle fibers together to form new strands that increase in number and thickness to create bulkier new muscle. If you think about it, this is the ultimate example of what doesn’t kill you and makes you stronger — at least your muscle does.
Hair loss can be an alarming health concern among both men and women. Imagine clumps of them filling up your hairbrush or clogging up the shower drain. Imagine combing your fingers through your hair and coming away with a handful of strands. Most people easily get alarmed at the thought that they may be on the fast track to the bald life, causing them to panic, but hair loss is actually a pretty common occurrence. On average, a person can shed up to 100 strands of hair a day – and yet, there seems to be nothing we can do about it.
Our hair just falls, seemingly as if it had a mind of its own. Before you know it, your house, your car, and your clothes are all littered with strands of hair that if anybody had to prove your whereabouts, they wouldn’t have trouble getting a hair sample for DNA testing. Experts, however, caution that while hair shedding is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern, it would still be prudent to watch out if it becomes excessive, which can happen at times of severe physical or emotional stress. It is also completely different from hair loss, which is when hair actually stops growing.
Most of us probably don’t give our fingernails a second thought. They are simply part of our bodies and part of our lives, helpful in prying open boxes, scratching an itch, undoing a Lego build, and for women, a point of pride, vanity, and even self-expression. And yet beneath its plain and unassuming exterior, fingernails actually have a pretty creepy side: their relentless, unwavering, and uncontrollable growth – sometimes as much as 2.5 millimeters per month, a speed that is capable of replacing a nail entirely in about 3 to 6 months.
No wonder you’re constantly using that nail trimmer and getting annoyed when those cuticles start to get in the way! Those fingernails are growing every minute and second of the day, often in proportion to how much you use them, which is why the fingernails on your dominant hand may be slightly longer than the ones on your other hand. Researchers have also found that your fingernails actually grow faster during the daytime and in the summer, supporting the theory that the more you use them, the faster they grow, as people are usually more active at those times and seasons.
Food isn’t the only thing that can fill up your stomach. While some people may take offense in getting their food bump mistaken for a baby bump, a stomach filled with gas could actually be much worse, especially if you’re on the receiving end of it upon release. Sure, passing gas may be considered gross or totally rude in our culture. Nevertheless, it’s actually a normal bodily function. We don’t have to attach so much shame to it since most people have gas and pass it an average of 13 to 21 times a day. That’s a pretty impressive statistic, considering we only ever catch people letting it rip once or twice in their lifetime.
Here’s an even more impressive number: our bodies make an average of one to four pints of gas a day – that’s about 16 to 64 ounces or, at most, enough to fill a half-gallon container of milk. That much gas has to go somewhere! While we know where the gas comes from, it’s just as important to understand where it comes from. Gas released in the form of a fart is formed in the large intestine when bacteria ferment undigested food from the small intestine. The gas left unconsumed by bacteria passes out of our bodies through the anus.
While the appearance of goosebumps is often associated with the thought of something creepy, we must say that goosebumps appear pretty strange. Call it a byproduct of evolution if you have to, but if humans ever had fur in the past, goosebumps would actually be less strange and more rational. And yet, in this modern iteration of the human body, goosebumps still occur involuntarily when the small muscles at the bottom of a hair follicle contract, causing the hair to stand up.
In animals, where feathers are often in the place of hair, raising goosebumps means raising feathers. Our bodies trigger this defense mechanism when there is a perceived threat, allowing them to appear bigger and more intimidating. Something similar happens to humans sans the feathers. When cold air passes, or when we experience strong emotions like shock or fear, and even in a sudden surge of awe or inspiration, we might feel goosebumps crawling on our skin, thinking perhaps that our bodies could use an extra layer of protection.
Laughter isn’t the only contagious thing. Researchers reveal that yawning is too, and one errant yawn is likely to generate a series of yawns within a group of people. But the real reason why yawning, bizarre as it is, even occurs is still a mystery within the scientific community. Many studies have delved into why we have this reflex and what purpose it serves, but there have been no definitive answers, only acceptable theories as to why people yawn.
One prominent theory is that yawning allows cool air in and helps the brain regulate its temperature, a feature aptly called thermoregulation. Another suggests that it is the body’s way of waking itself up by stretching the lungs, flexing muscles and joints as well as forcing blood to the head in order to increase alertness. Whatever the reason, yawning is something our body does that we have no control over. And while the act itself may look bizarre on the outside, it’s actually a helpful bodily response from the inside.
How much saliva is there in your mouth right now? If you try to empty it with a swallow, you’d be surprised at just how quickly it fills up again until pretty soon you’d have to clear it once more from your mouth at the risk of drooling ridiculously like an infant. Without thinking about it, we are constantly making saliva. Then, we slosh it around and swallow it. However, the whole process — no matter how gross or tiresome swallowing saliva — almost goes unnoticed. Thankfully, spit is just another vital bodily function you don’t have to think about.
Throughout the day, salivary glands in your mouth make a whopping two to four pints of saliva a day. That’s like drinking four to six cups of your own drool daily! While saliva can sometimes feel like a nuisance or an inconvenience you can’t seem to get a grip on, it is actually crucial in maintaining good dental health as it neutralizes acids produced by bacteria, limits bacterial growth, and washes away stray food particles. It also enhances our ability to taste food and makes it easier for us to chew and swallow. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have enough saliva than suffer from a dry mouth any day.
While oil isn’t the worst thing in the world, it can be pretty disgusting when it’s literally pouring out of your face. Sebum, which is the oily secretion of the sebaceous glands, seems to be doing exactly that, rapidly being produced around the clock and leaving your face with a sticky sheen that looks like you’ve been slathered all over with butter. This film of oil coming out of their facial pores is pretty thin for most people, but others aren’t as lucky. Some people produce more oil than normal, turning what’s supposed to be a protective layer into a stubborn, greasy film you could probably fry an egg on it.
The amount of oil on your skin is a delicate balance that, when off, can tip you either in the direction of dry, flaky skin or create terrible acne breakouts caused by excess sebum. This balancing act is so volatile it has driven people crazy, often pushing them to obsess about buying face products and serums in an attempt to have perfect skin. Most of the time, you can achieve this balance through good facial hygiene, but it also helps if you have a healthy diet that is light on oily foods. But to truly have luck on your side, you only need a good set of genes. Otherwise, don’t count on turning off the oil factory on your face.
What do you and a snake have in common? Unless you’re a lying, scheming, manipulative villain (which I’m sure you’re not), the answer is pretty simple: you both shed skin regularly. But that’s about where your skin-shedding similarities end. Why? Because a snake typically does this about 4 to 12 times a year and often leaves the shell of his old skin in one piece. Humans do this much faster, often shedding skin at a rate of 4 to 6 weeks per cycle. During this period, we completely replace skin all over the entire body.
We neither shed our old skin cells intact enough to leave a shell of our old bodies behind. Instead, our skin cells turn to dust as they leave our bodies falling off at an eye-popping rate of about 600,000 particles per hour. That’s about 1.5 pounds of skin being shed by our bodies every year. Imagine how much weight you can lose just by shedding some skin! Sure, shedding skin seems like something most people would rather not think about. However, it is also thankfully nearly invisible and, barring a nasty sunburn, pretty much painless.
There are few things in life that are genuinely creepy enough to make most of us cringe. Bugs, unfortunately, are one of them. As if their mere existence isn’t enough to send shivers down your spine, imagine having a host of them living on you and even inside you! Don’t want to? I don’t blame you. It’s difficult to reconcile the fact that these creatures have actually made your body into their habitat. While their existence, thankfully, isn’t something you can feel or in any way perceive, it doesn’t make it any less creepy to know that there are many of these creatures crawling all over you and have literally made your body their home.
Head lice, ringworms, and face mites are on the surface of your body, with head lice making their home in the maze of strands that is your hair. On the other hand, ringworms and face mites live on your skin and are practically invisible; you might not even know they are there, no matter how hard you look. Other creepy crawlies have made your insides their home. Creatures like tapeworms and parasites like giardia could exist inside your body. Some live there harmlessly, while others could cause problems like cramps, gas, and diarrhea. If you were looking for one more reason to observe proper hygiene, the idea of letting these creatures live in your body should be enough motivation to get you to at least wash your hands.
If you’ve ever woken up from a bizarre dream, you know that the imagination is at its most potent while we’re in sleep and in a dream state. Talking animals, flying cars, and architecture that defies physics — oh my! You can experience the resurrecting a loved one. Maybe you can go in the past and spend time with a friend. Basically, all things are possible in our dreams. And yet, scientists still haven’t been able to explain why our dreams are almost always strange, implausible, and out of this world, pushing the boundaries of what our imaginations are capable of creating.
Some theories explore the idea that dreams are an expanded state of consciousness beyond the limits of our usual linear thinking. This expanded realm helps loosen our normally constricted and rule-bound train of thought, allowing us to release our true thoughts and emotions. As our true selves are given free rein in our dreams, the control that our conscious brains impose is virtually non-existent, so while it is nice to have a fantastic dream or two, it’s not impossible to have the complete opposite and experience a creepy nightmare instead.
The body is truly an amazing thing. Not only is it capable of so many complex functions and processes, but it is also quirky, contradictory, and sometimes downright bizarre. Of all the things that are strange about our body, one of the most disgusting (in a funny way) are the sounds it unconsciously makes as it goes about its daily business. We’re not just talking about farts and burps here, although they are definitely top of mind when we think of weird body noises. Many others, often unintended and out of control, are sure to draw out a giggle or two the minute you hear them.
Your nose and mouth area are commonly where most weird noises come from. A few examples are a loud series of sneezes, a few ill-time burps or belches, and a constant whistling in your nose as you breathe in and out. Your gut is also another likely culprit, responsible for a stretch of hiccups that comically escape your unwilling lips or send out a fart (smelly or not) in the other direction. It can even create its own sound as it rumbles on empty, sending out a low growl that is sure to make anyone laugh.
Your cells are dividing right this minute, and you can’t stop them.
Imagine your body at the cellular level. What do you see? Can you see your cells divide and form replicas of each other? Now zoom out and imagine how many of these replications are happening at a given moment. The scope and range of cell division in our body can be dizzying, yet this is exactly the process that keeps us alive. Cellular division is what drives our growth as humans and helps us heal from injuries and disease, no wonder you can’t willingly stop this process from happening. Your cells are dividing and will continue to divide inside your body whether you like it or not.
Your body replaces cells as they mutate or die. However, much like a photocopy of a photocopy, the replacements are always a little less perfect than the original. By the time you are around the age of 28, however, your body is no longer capable of replacing cells effectively. This means that at about that age, you are actively in the process of dying. Why? Because your cells get destroyed faster than your body can replace them. Each replacement is most likely substandard and of lesser quality than the cells whose places they took. It looks like it’s all downhill for your body once you hit your thirties.
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