The secret to a great night's sleep

Four things you didn't know about yawning

The universal sign for tiredness and boredom is the yawn, but is that all they mean? Researchers are yet to completely figure out yawning, however there are some things we have discovered… here are four things you didn't know about yawning.

It's completely contagious!

Ever wondered why you feel the uncontrollable urge to yawn after watching your friend, family member or even monkey yawn on the latest animal documentary? Research from the University of Maryland reported yawning to be similar to laughing: Michael Decker, spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, explains: "the yawning becomes more of a social phenomenon than a physiological phenomenon."

Six seconds is the average time…

Many media outlets report the average length of a yawn to last roughly six seconds. A study in 2012 reported the physiological changes we undertake during a yawn are unique solely to a yawn and cannot be replicated when simply taking a breath.

They can make you more alert...

A team of scientists discovered that when we yawn, it cools the brain in order to achieve "arousal and mental efficiency." Coupled with contagious yawning, it can help improve group alertness. Next time you struggle to focus at work, a sneaky yawn will help you stay on track.

...But also help you to keep calm!

When we yawn, the brain releases oxytocin, which can help the body cope with stress. Before a big speech, event or stressful situation, many people will yawn to help release stress inducing chemicals and calm the nervous system down.

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