12 Totally Gross (But Normal) Things Your Body Does Every Morning
No matter how brushed and scrubbed you are before bedtime, you probably still wake up with at least some of these bodily responses. They may be embarrassing, but they’re part of being human.
Just as unicorns are mere fantasy and don’t exist in real life, so are people who wake up with great-smelling breath. “While you are sleeping, thousands of bacteria hiding in your dental plaque create harmful acids that can damage your teeth and gums and leave your breath smelling like death,” says Dr. Lev Kalika, DC, owner of New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy in New York City. “Saliva fights off bacteria, but production decreases at night, so sleeping with your mouth open makes matters worse.” Good oral hygiene is key, especially before bed.
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Do you often wake up feeling parched even though you drank more than enough water the day before? When we sleep, we don’t produce as much saliva in our mouths, so we naturally wake up with a drier mouth than we went to sleep with, explains Gina Sam, MD, a gastroenterologist in New York City. Although this sleep side effect is perfectly normal, you can try to avoid it by not using mouthwash containing alcohol, which can dry out your mouth. Also, keeping a glass of water nearby for when you wake up with dry mouth can provide some relief.
When you’re snoozing away, your energy production is reduced, which means your body is able to attend to other tasks, like digestion. “Just like the exhaust that comes out of your car’s tailpipe as it guzzles fuel, digestive gas is a by-product of the breakdown of body fuel (aka food),” explains Dr. Kalika. That’s why, as soon as you wake up and start moving around in the morning, you might notice that you’re quite gassy. This is normal, says Dr. Kalika, but embarrassing if you have company!
“Fluid within your body redistributes itself when you are lying down, and some of it pools in the skin around your eyes as you sleep,” says Dr. Kalika. While some puffiness is normal, excess alcohol and sodium, not enough water, and stress can exacerbate the problem. He recommends splashing cold water on your face first thing in the morning, patting it dry with a towel, and applying light pressure around your eyes to reduce the swelling.
Despite your best efforts and religious application of deodorant, it’s perfectly normal to wake up smelly, especially in the underarm area. A lot has to do with metabolic processes taking place while you sleep, according to Dr. Kalika. “Your body takes advantage of this downtime to detoxify, eliminating toxins through sweat and lymph, so bacteria on your skin act on the excretions, creating unsavoury odours,” he says. “Drinking plenty of water and eating a whole-food, plant-based diet can dramatically reduce morning body odour.”
Despite your level of hydration, you probably wake up with darker-than-normal pee. This is because your kidneys have been at rest for so long, according to Dr. Sam. “Your kidneys are part of the renal system, or urinary tract, along with the ureters, bladder, and the urethra, so if they are resting, your urine is concentrated, and therefore darker in colour,” she explains.
Large bowel movements
If your morning poops scale on the large side, it’s because of all that digesting your body was doing while you were in REM sleep. “The contractions in the colon are highest in the morning, and this is when most people have a large bowel movement to get rid of the stool from digested food overnight,” says Dr. Sam.
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Cracked corners of the mouth
Waking up with sore, cracked sides of the mouth not only is common but also can be rather uncomfortable if it’s part of your everyday morning routine. “When you sleep, saliva builds up at the corners of the mouth and can start to break down this delicate skin,” says Erum Ilyas, MD, a dermatologist at Montgomery Dermatology. “If this goes on long enough, a yeast infection can develop called perleche.” If you are a mouth breather or have a cold, she recommends applying Vaseline or Aquaphor to the corners of your mouth before bedtime. This can serve as a barrier to protect your skin from breaking down and getting irritated.
Waking up and having to clean out your eyes is part of most of our morning routines. Some call it “getting the sleep out of your eyes.” It’s perfectly normal, but definitely a pesky task. “Sometimes an accumulation of tears, mucus, and dead skin cells can build up along the eyelids and make them feel ‘crusty’ in the morning,” Dr. Ilyas explains. “Washing your face with a gentle cleanser or Johnson’s No More Tears Baby Shampoo can help remove this.”
Muscle cramps and stiffness
You don’t have to work out intensely the night before to wake up feeling as if you hiked a mountain. As it turns out, stiff joints and crampy muscles in the morning have much to do with circulation. “As you begin to move around, blood and oxygen are diverted from your digestive tract and vital organs to meet the demands of your muscles,” says Dr. Kalika. “Poor sleeping posture, trigger points in your muscles, poor cardiovascular fitness, and dehydration can all contribute to morning muscle stiffness.”
Painful jaw or headache
If you grind your teeth at night, you probably wake up with a painful jaw or even a headache. “When you grind your teeth at night, your jaw muscles never have a chance to relax, and you may develop trigger points that cause pain and dysfunction,” says Dr. Kalika. The best thing you can do to combat this side effect is to de-stress as much as possible. “Stretching, deep breathing, meditating, and relaxing in an Epsom-salt bath before bed will help you sleep better so you wake up refreshed and better able to manage stress,” Dr. Kalika suggests.
Washing your face in the morning might seem silly if you washed it right before you went to bed, but it’s for a purpose. “At night our oil glands can be active and leave a layer of ‘grease’ on our skin first thing in the morning,” Dr. Ilyas says. “It helps to stick with gentle cleansers and avoid overly harsh or abrasive ones at night that can cause your skin to overproduce oil.”
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