Sometimes, you just need a good cry–like after a brutal break up or when your favorite TV show becomes disappointing. After you finally release the waterworks, you probably feel relieved, and even a little tired.
It may not seem as physically exhausting as say, leg day, but crying is pretty draining, says Lauren Bylsma, PhD and professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.
“Crying is hard on the body,” she explains to Men’s Health. “It takes a lot of energy and is something that takes over your whole body.”
That’s because crying entails so much more than just tears, says Jeffrey Cohen, PsyD, clinical psychologist at Columbia University.
You may not notice in the moment, but generally your heart rate increases and your breathing slows when crying, he explains.
Plus, crying releases stress-related hormones, since the act helps our bodies release emotional trauma, he says.
“That could be calming, which in turn leads to a feeling of tiredness,” he says.
Researchers believe crying is a self-soothing behavior that reduces distress, according to a review of studies published in 2014 in Frontiers of Psychology.
Your level of fatigue likely depends on how strenuously you cried, explains Bylsma. More vigorous crying could lead to hyperventilation, which could reduce the amount of oxygen to your brain. This would also lead you to feel more drowsy, she says.
There’s not much research looking at the toll crying takes on your body, particularly in men, explains Bylsma.
“I think in the past it was harder for men to cry because it was seen as not very masculine,” she says.
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