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Why do we rub our faces when we're tired? © Getty Images

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

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

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.


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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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