The other day I got some startling news…
Sighing is actually good for you.
I know. I was also shocked when I first heard. Sighing has be synonymous with boredom and stress and sadness and pretty much every other negative emotion out there. But did you know it’s actually pretty important?
Sighing helps keep you alive.
My friends have often asked if I’m okay because sometimes I sigh a lot without even really noticing. Apparently this is because sighing is an involuntary reflex to get your lungs going. There are a few other benefits of sighing too.
The Bridge of Sighs in Venice
(named because it was where prisoners would see their last of daylight before being imprisoned)
What even is a sigh?
A sigh is different from a deep breath you consciously decide to take (although those are good too). A sigh is when you inhale and then inhale again before exhaling.
This is done subconsciously and about 12 times per hour. Isn’t it crazy what our bodies do without us even noticing?!
To sigh or not to sigh?
Sighing is a super helpful thing that our bodies do. The benefits of sighing include:
+ getting all the old air out
Lungs don’t inflate to their full capacity when we’re just regularly breathing. This means that there’s always a bit of old air just hanging around. A big deep breath sigh can help clear it all out and help activate our whole lung.
+ helping your little air sacks (alveoli) fully inflate
These little guys sometimes struggle to really inflate when you breath and end up collapsing if you don’t give them an occasional big ol’ sigh. Your body sighs to make sure they’re always up and running.
+ processing emotions….. maybe.
The emotional link to sighing isn’t fully known yet. Some scientists think that negative emotions might activate similar neurons to those used for subconscious sighing and others think that it’s a way of communicating. But nothing is really confirmed. All I know is that sometimes a big sigh really can make you feel better.
Additional fun fact: sighing uses the smallest number of neurons in your brain out of any other basic human behaviour.
Overall, I think the benefits of sighing are pretty cool.