We think that we walk through our lives with full awareness, with complete freedom of choice on things that we like, and everything is under our complete control. But we are not even close to reality. Our bodies have lots of weird involuntary behaviors, which is actually a thing because imagine you have to regulate your heartbeat, breathing, digestive system, or body temperature all without a minute delay or without getting your pants wet or falling down. Even imagining a state like that is harder than we think.

Introduction to Weird Involuntary Behaviors

Many of these weird involuntary behaviors are vague, disturbing, and can be referred to as bizarre. Here are the five strangest and most out of control behaviors of our body.

  1. Eye Twitch
  2. Sun Sneeze
  3. Sleep Start
  4. Hiccup
  5. Yawn

Type “why does my ….” in Google and you will find that the most results are really weird.

The Eye Twitch

Involuntary twitching of the muscles around the eyes has several causes such as Dry eyes, caffeine, bright lights, or maybe simple fatigue. They are usually harmless and eventually go away on their own, which may also be a simple sign that you have likely been gazing at the screen long enough for today. There are many different superstitions around the meanings of the twitching of either eye but let’s not go there.

The question of Sun Sneeze

Looking at bright light can cause quite more than an eye twitch. The great Aristotle asks in his “The Book of Problems”, Why would a person sneeze plenty after watching the sun? Emphasizing that individuals are asking similar questions often for a long time but no one told Aristotle not to stare at the sun. The so-called photic sneeze reflex, also known as Autosomal Cholinergic Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst abbreviated “ACHOO”{Yes, literally} affects about 1 in 4 people, which made scientists believe it is genetically heritable.

While the underlying cause is not known precisely, many scientists believe it is due to the interference of signals between the optic nerve and nerve that feeds the tickling sensation in your nose. In people sneezing sensitive to the sun, the visual cortex is subject to over stimulation which might send the sensor parts sneezing into their brains out of control.

Sleep Start or Hypnagogic Myoclonus

Have you ever just about fall asleep, passing through the gates of the dreamland and suddenly the bottom is pulled from under you, and you fall into the abysmal and you wake up! These frustrated sleep starts have a beautiful medical name, Hypnagogic Myoclonus. After we drift off, the region in our brains that controls motor functions shuts down in favor of the ones that dominate our sleep-cycles, so you will be able to dream that you are driving your car without actually moving your hands or feet.

While the sleepy a part of your brain fights with the awake and moving parts of your brain, the battle can spontaneously tip in favor of the motor control side and suddenly you discover yourself saying: Oh, I’m awake!!

The chemistry of Hiccups

Hiccups are the weirdest muscle spasms we experience. These uncontrollable contractions of the diaphragm muscles that we use for pulling the air inside our lungs. About a quarter second after that muscle contracts, the vocal cords suddenly close shut, causing the distinctive sound, “Hic!”.

Scientists are still puzzled over what causes this, but possible explanations include that the hiccups are an evolutionary remnant from a few hundred million years ago when our ancestors still had to pump water through their gills. Or, since hiccups mainly occur in mammals, that they started as a way of nursing infants to clear air from their stomachs. If you want to get rid of the hiccups, it seems that increasing the amount of CO2 in your blood can do the trick, which is why common remedies include drinking water or holding our breath or breathing into a paper bag.

The contagious Yawn

Yawning, another long, slow, and involuntary form of breathing, is common throughout the animal kingdom and it occurs even in the womb. We all know that it’s associated with sleep and boredom, but that does not explain why it happens, and like most human behaviors, if you stop and give some thought to the yawning for long enough it starts to become a really weird thing to do. Hippocrates believed that yawning occurs as a result of the buildup of noxious fumes in the body, but modern medicine has shown us, that it happens on the opposite side of the body{AKA. fart}.

We also know that about 50% of individuals who notice a yawn will start to yawn as a result. That’s why it is believed to be a social signal to synchronize our biological clocks. There is a theory that says yawning might cool the brain slightly, which in turn should make us more alert than bored or sleepy. Even watching someone for an extended period of time can prompt you to yawn, so next time, if you are getting bored in the class then tell your teacher that it’s Mother Nature’s fault.

Lastly, a bonus and probably the weirdest involuntary behavior, “post-micturition convulsion syndrome” or “The pee shivers”. This is another behavior that scientists have not fully understood but some believe it’s just because we expose sensitive areas of our bodies to the cold while disposing of some internal warmth.

It might also arise from a bit of conflict between our autonomous nervous systems which usually quietly keeps all that urine inside and the part of our conscious mind that’s in charge of the plumbing at that moment. These weird, wild, and sometimes bizarre behaviors may defy nice, neat explanations and sometimes it’s very annoying, but in the long journey called Life, these are a cool reminder of all the amazing things that happen behind the scenes.

Learn: More involuntary behaviors

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