What causes a sigh?

Amazingly, if we don’t sigh - we die. And if that’s news to you - well, it was news to scientists. Sadly, they only found out when they first tried making ‘iron lung’ devices to artificially assist breathing, and patients died because the iron lungs didn’t sigh.

It turns out that if you don’t sigh every five minutes, the alveoli start to collapse - and your lungs fail.

They’ve redesigned iron lungs now, of course, and they understand sighing a bit better.

A sigh is a second in-breath. Normally you breathe in, out, in, out. But with a sigh, you take a second in-breath.

Researchers say it is a very basic reflex in humans. In fact, incredibly so: ‘Sighing appears to be regulated by the fewest number of neurons we have seen linked to a fundamental human behaviour’.

Bu although this is how we normally sigh - we sigh like this 12 times an hour - this is not really what we mean when we talk about sighing. Because this sort of sighing happens automatically, and bypasses our consciousness entirely.

We mean an emotional sigh - and researchers do not yet understand this, or have any good explanation. They simply suggest that emotions can trigger this primal sigh reflex: "It may be that neurons in the brain areas that process emotion are triggering the release of the sigh neuropeptides - but we don’t know that."

But this does not really tell us why - and anyway, I am not convinced.

Because it seems clear to me that emotional sighing is a bit like laughter: it seems like a simple physiological reflex, but it’s really a social behaviour.

People don’t tend to laugh alone - they are 30 times more likely to laugh in company (especially mine) - and I think emotional sighing, too, is typically a social act. A communication.

After all, the people who sigh most are young children, and they really exaggerate it - the rising and dropping of the shoulders, the flopping powerless limbs, and so on.

And I think the second most frequent sighers - are parents.

So my theory is: sighing is a performance of exhaustion.

When people lift a heavy weight, for example, they will take a deep breath first to supply themselves with extra oxygen. So I think we perform the act of getting extra oxygen, when facing emotional burdens.

I think that this would also explain why we often roll our eyes to the heaven in mock prayer - which seems unlikely to be a reflex - and sigh the words:

‘Give me strength’.

I suppose it does give us a little strength from the oxygen, but I think it’s probably more about letting others - whether God or parents - know we need it.

This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

Have you ever noticed that we can't control our sighing?

#Society #health #Quora


What are your thoughts on this subject?
Polio was rampant during the Korean War and many young service men 's lives were saved by the use of Iron Lungs. This from a personal experience. Amen!!!!
Nov 5, 2019 5:38PM
Gassan Couri
Very informative,thanks for sharing 🤔👍🏻
Oct 17, 2019 4:59PM
Louis Michael Durocher,
Iron lungs,in general; simply did not fonction on every patient and it really hard nothing to with sighing...The pressure ( atmosphere) measured in Barrs, varied so much that 40% of people died...Today these antiquities are long gone.Now the people survive longer; in some cases ,chronic lung desease, they eventually do die...With modern technology and computer assisted ,people do have a very good survival rate...And you don't have to sign to live,it's a natural reaction of body and mind...
Jul 22, 2019 3:20PM
Marianne Frederick Halterman
When my mother got her pacemaker, she began sighing audibly more often--I wonder what prompted that exactly...a more regular heart beat?
Apr 26, 2019 1:08PM
Fran Saykaly
Just correcting some typos below: "...based on what I've learned...", and "...a physical sigh...".
Apr 15, 2019 9:55PM
Fran Saykaly
I think, based on what I've leared, that a phsical sigh, as opposed to an emotional sigh, really has to do with the oxygen level in our blood, or something along those lines. It's related to the act of "catching your breath", which is also the involuntary act of resetting our oxygen levels.
Apr 15, 2019 9:51PM
Bernis Harris Sr.
I notice it more after i got copd
Apr 5, 2019 11:35AM
Yes, love this and also know that when people may be sad they sigh too.
Apr 4, 2019 4:36PM
Sonia Ackhurst
Interesting - I sigh when I am bored
Feb 25, 2019 8:38PM
Susan Currie Lehan
Since I was a child, I've had this occasional weird 3 or 4 intake sigh before I breathe out. Totally involuntary. Anyone else?
Feb 21, 2019 4:43PM
Extremely interesting. I noticed over the years that my brighter students used to sigh more loudly during tests than other students.
Feb 20, 2019 5:13PM
Diane Thompson
Very interesting. Thank you for sharing. I have a big sigh when I've just got a fright - like yesterday when our little dog suddenly gave a shrill bark.
Feb 16, 2019 5:00AM
Interesting article. I sigh when I am baffled by a thought. Thank you.
Feb 15, 2019 11:54PM
Something new to know.
Dec 23, 2018 8:38AM
Todd Cates
👍 something new to me
Dec 16, 2018 5:00PM

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