Why do we rub our faces when we're tired?

Ahhh. Nerves in your face trigger a reflex that help you relax.

8th June 2018
Why do we rub our faces when we're tired? © Getty

Asked by: Alison Shields, Buckinghamshire

Often when we are tired, our eyes feel itchy and rubbing them stimulates the tear ducts to release lubricating fluid. But there is also a weird connection between the ophthalmic nerve that serves the face, scalp and eyes, and the vagus nerve that runs to the heart. Rubbing your face or pressing your eyes triggers the ‘oculocardiac reflex’, which lowers the heart rate. This can help you relax when you are tired or stressed.

Read more:

 


SFQASubscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun facts.