Crying Saved Your Life

Abigail Lee
4 min readJan 12, 2021

Once upon a time, somewhere in the vast world, you were born. Once you had been exposed to the world, what was the first thing you did? What do all healthy babies normally do as soon as they’re born?

Cry.

And that isn’t because they are now new into the real world, away from the warm and comforting shelter provided by their mother, or that they are sad because they are hungry. Rather, it is because their lungs now need to learn how to breathe strong and on their own.

As we grow older, crying becomes a sign of weakness, a sign that we are not in control of our feelings.

But is crying beneficial only when we are babies? Quick answer: no. Let’s explore the ways that crying benefits us even as we grow old.

Health Benefits of Crying

Crying helps keep your eyes protected, self-soothes and helps you sleep at night.

Protective

There are actually three types of tears: reflex tears, continuous tears, and emotional tears.

  1. Reflex tears are formed when your eyes need to wash away debris, such as smoke, dust, or onion fumes. These tears usually will be larger than others and might contain more antibodies to help fight bacteria that might linger around your eyes.
  2. Continuous tears (or basal tears) are the tears that are always in your eyes to lubricate and protect your cornea. They are like a shield for your eyes, protecting them from the world, and keep your eyes from drying out.
  3. Emotional tears, as the name implies, are formed in response to your emotions (joy, sadness, fear, etc.). Some scientists have even proposed that emotional tears hold additional proteins and stress hormones, and may take part in regulating the homeostasis, or balance, of stress hormones.

Self-Soothing

Crying also is a mechanism for self-soothing. In a study that was observing the relationship between crying and self-soothing behaviors, researchers found that crying triggers the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

With the activation of the PNS, your body enters a resting and restoring state. This activation will lead to eventual self-soothing, although effects are not immediate, your body will enter a state of self-soothing within minutes.

In addition to self-soothing, the study showed that when you cry (specifically when you sob) it may also improve your mood. The reason being, when you are sobbing, you take in quick breathes of cool air.

This can lower the temperature of your brain. When the brain is cool, your body responds positively and can result in a better mood.

If you cry for a long period of time, it can result in the release of oxytocin and endorphins, otherwise known as “feel-good” chemicals. These chemicals can help ease physical and emotional pain, giving you a sense of calmness or wellness.

Helps You Sleep

In a 2015 study, researchers found that crying helps babies sleep better. There is yet a study to prove it does the same for adults. However, since crying helps regulates your stress hormones, this, in turn, can help individuals sleep better.

Also, if we think about it in a non-scientific way, when you work-out you use a lot of energy, causing your body to produce sweat. The same thing with crying, if you overwork your emotions you will produce tears. Both will make you tired, and signals will be sent to your brain to find rest.

I’m not telling you to cry right at this moment, if you are feeling great keep that good energy up! But if you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, it might be a good idea to turn on The Notebook, dim the lights, and cry it out.

Key Takeaways

  • There are three types of tears: reflex tears, continuous tears, and emotional tears, which are in charge of protecting your eyes.
  • Crying triggers the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Which results in self-soothing.
  • Crying can lower the temperature of your brain.
  • Crying helps you sleep better.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment, email me, or contact me on Linkedin with any comments or questions.

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Abigail Lee

High School Student. Innovator at The Knowledge Society. Passionate about medicine!