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A weekly show where we endeavor to answer one of your big questions. This week, "bored during school" asks, “Why do we get dark bags under our eyes when we're tired?”

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(Snoring)

Hi, I’m Craig but you can call me Eye Bags and this is Mental Floss on YouTube and today I’m going to answer boredduringschool’s big question, “Why do we get dark bags under our eyes when we’re tired?” I don’t know if you know this boredduringschool, but your username goes really well with your question. Maybe you do know. Maybe you don’t. I don’t know. Anyway, dark circles and eye bags are actually two different things. Because if you get dark circles you can thank your genes in addition to tiredness. As for bags, those are a combination of a few different things. Things we will discuss after this intro. Lets get started.

(Intro)

First, let’s talk about what’s actually going on under your eyes. The skin itself is very thin and it covers muscle, fatty tissue, and blood vessels. But as you might remember from our episode on whether or not deoxygenated blood is blue, the blood of light skinned people often appears blueish to us. So how dark that area appears has a lot to do with skin color and thickness. And there is an additional darkness that comes with genetics in some people. One popular theory as to why they stand out more when we are tired is that blood vessels have grown in size. When someone is tired their cortisol production increases which results in more blood and larger blood vessels. Another possibility is that blood increases in that area adjust from laying horizontally all night. What about the bags though!? Well, we’re not really sure. It hasn’t been well studied yet. There seems to be a correlation with age. For a long time it was believed that as people get older, the fat that used to sit in the skin underneath the eyes moved to new spots in the body. But, a study in 2008 showed that fat under the eyes actually experienced an increase in volume. So older people will have more bags under their eyes whether or not they are tired. Still, tiredness will still make them more noticeable because water fills up the fatty tissue in the under-eye area. The same thing happens when someone eats a lot of salt or has allergies or goes like this pfff pff pff. Gravity also effects the eyes with time. I know it affected me. When I saw that movie I was like… WOW. Now with actual gravity the tissues just start to droop a little more. Because of that experts also recommend not lying flat in bed.

Thanks for watching Mental Floss on YouTube which is made with the help of these nice bags. If you have a big question of your own that you would like answered, leave it below in the comments. See you next week.