Bodies in general are kinda gross. As a seasoned hypochondriac, I try not to think about all the processes my body goes through on the regular, because while our bodies are amazing works of nature, they're also showcases of alllll the sometimes gross things that go on in nature. Paying attention to the gross things your body does, however, can tell you whether or not your health is tip-top, including whether or not you're getting a good night's sleep.
To put it basically and non-scientifically, we do lots of stuff in our sleep, and some of it is gross AF. I will totally admit to having woken up with truly cringeworthy drool spots on my pillow, and if you've ever had a partner, you know that the romantic idea of watching them sleep can be thrown for a loop by any number of things, from passing gas to random flailing of limbs. But while things can get gross, they can also indicate your body is doing its job.
It should definitely be said that while the below things are generally normal for most people, and indicate that our bodies are operating the way they're supposed to, if you notice anything strange in your body's daily routine, you should speak to a healthcare professional just to be sure nothing's going on.
Without further ado, here's eight seriously gross things our bodies do while we're drifting in dreamland.
1. You Make Eye Crusties
Most of us wake up with little crusties in the corners of our eyes in the morning, and while it can be kinda gross to have to clean them out, the fact that your body is producing crusties is actually a sign that they're in working order, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Aimee Haber said in an article published by the clinic that our eyes constantly produce fluids for protection, and when we're awake, "[e]very blink helps flush out excess mucus and irritants such as stray eyelashes or specks of dust or dirt."
The production of protective fluids doesn't stop when we're asleep, and "since you're not blinking, the excess matter gathers in the corners of your eyes," Haber explained. So, the fact that we wake up with crusties means our eyes are doing their jobs while we're asleep.
2. You Shed Dead Skin Cells
When you tuck yourself in at night, it's pretty likely you're also tucking yourself in with dead skin cells you've shed while sleeping. According to research, "up to a third of the weight of your pillow could be made up of bugs, dead skin and house dust mites and their feces," The Atlantic reported. And yes, that is undeniably super, super gross. But the fact that you're sloughing off dead skin cells at night is just a natural part of your body refreshing and healing itself. Change your sheets once a week, and your pillowcases every few nights, if you want to mitigate the amount of time you sleep with your dead skin cells.
3. Your Eyes Roll Around — Like, A Lot
If you've ever woken up and sleepily turned over, hoping to see your partner sleeping peacefully, you probably got an eyeful of, well, eyes. Getting a good night's sleep means slipping down into the realms of REM sleep, aka rapid eye movement sleep. Our eyes move constantly when we're in deep sleep, and though it can make us look like something out of a horror movie, rest assured it means the resting is good.
4. You're Regular
There's no two ways about it: this is about poop. Studies have shown that an unhealthy or irregular sleep schedule can adversely affect your bowel movements. It's even been shown that folks who work night shifts experience a "disruption of biologic rhythms" that "has been associated with gastrointestinal symptoms," according to a 2011 study about the impact of sleep on constipation.
Shannon Conklin, a certified colon hydrotherapist and director of Fluid Water Therapy in NYC, told another Bustler that people are generally "supposed to poop two to three times a day, or every time we eat a meal," but that Bustler also pointed out that according to WebMD, "depending on your age, diet, and activity level, it's considered within normal range to poop three times a week." So if you're regular per your body's standards, you're probably getting excellent sleep.
5. Your Muscles Become Paralyzed
This can be more scary than gross, especially if you wake up and are stuck experiencing sleep paralysis. However, WebMD says that during normal REM sleep, "[y]our muscles are 'turned off.'" According to Live Science, this is because during REM sleep, "the brain is very active, and dreams are at their most intense." Having muscles turned off, so to speak, "keeps people still even as their brains are acting out fantastical scenarios." So though the idea of our muscles being totally unresponsive is unnerving, it's actually keeping us safe in the deepest stage of sleep.
6. Your Pee Is Dark In The A.M.
According to the Bladder & Bowel Community, your body "makes a hormone at night which slows down kidney function while you sleep, so you normally make much less urine during the night." And that urine tends to sit in your bladder till the morning, which can result in the seemingly uber-concentrated, dark pee you wake up with in the a.m. Yep, it's kind of gross, but it indicates that your body is successfully producing that hormone, and your kidneys are recognizing when it's time to chillax and catch some zzz's.
7. You Pass Gas At Night
Sorry to all sharers of beds out there, but every one of us passes gas at night. It's gross, but it's natural; as we slip into unconsciousness, we tend to pass gas just because our bodies are relaxing. But passing gas in general can be a sign your gut is doing great, NPR reported. Purna Kashyap, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., told NPR, "Eating foods that cause gas is the only way for the microbes in the gut to get nutrients." And on top of that, "A healthy individual can have up to 18 flatulences per day and be perfectly normal," he said.
8. You Get Randomly Aroused
Getting aroused isn't gross, but the reason your body gets randomly aroused at night is definitely capable of wigging you out. A study on arousal during sleep indicated that arousal is totally natural and is "weaved into the texture of sleep taking part in the regulation of the sleep process." But the researchers behind this study came to the conclusion that we get aroused during sleep because our bodies are trying to "ensure the reversibility of sleep, without which it would be identical to coma." So, that's good!
Our bodies may do some gross things, but generally, they're good signs, because who doesn't want a good night's sleep. If you're experiencing these things, it's time to give in and embrace the gross in the name of rest.