Why do we sigh?

Everyone does it. We all sigh at some points. Some sigh more than others, but we often do it at least once a day. Well, according to a group of Belgian researchers, we often sigh to hit the internal "reset button". The team conducted a study using 8 men and 34 women monitoring their daily breathing and seeing when some breathes were shorter or longer than others. They found that women sighed more often than men. (I immediately questioned this seeing as they only had 8 men in the study, it seemed strange that there was such a large gender distribution). How wouldn't have more women sighed?

natalia-breathing.jpgAnother study found that when people sigh it actually effects their respiratory system. If people sigh at the right times, and don't "over sigh" (yes, there is such a thing) their heart rate can come down, their blood pressure can return to a normal level, and they can regain mental composure. As one scientist put it, "It's really a miracle if you think about it." Well, let's not go THAT far, but it is definitely an effective relaxation tool. 


I find it very interesting what happens when we sigh because as your second study shows, our body is resetting which is supposedly what we are attempting to do.

I find it funny that women sighed more than men. Even though this is just correlational, I am taking advantage of the opportunity to hypothesize that women get fed up with things quicker than men. This could be the reason why the women sighed more than men.

I am very fascinated with the fact that our heart rate can come down, our blood pressure can return to a normal level, and we can mentally regain composure. I think that this is cool because as you stated when we sigh we are attempting to “reset”. I feel as though this attempt is subconscious though therefore our picking up this habit of sighing when we are flustered is subconscious as well. It is like our brain is working with our body without US KNOWING IT! Because of this I am reminded once again of how so much activity in our mind is subconscious.

I think that the first experiment could have been controlled though. Some way or another the men and women studied should have been men and women who were proven to be fairly happy with their lives. The way the experiment was done we don’t know if one sex group had more depressed people in it than the other. This could have altered the results of the study.

Hi Jeffrey,
When reading your blog about sighing, I immediately thought about the blog I wrote during this period about yawning since they are similar actions. I wrote about how yawns are contagious and I wondered if sighing was too so I decided to look into it a little more. According to another article, sighing isn't contagious like yawning because it doesn't have to do with communication and instead has to do with the respiratory system. I attached the link to my blog if you want to check it out.



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