The secret of the yawn
Researchers are yet to figure out the age-old
question that intrigues us all. Why do we yawn? Whether it's in the
middle of a meeting, halfway through an important conversation or
when you're concentrating really hard - we've all experienced an
awkward yawn! Read on to find out more about the scientific mystery
of the yawn.
Why do we yawn?
We typically yawn when we're bored, or
tired, and this may be down to the amount of
oxygen we inhale. Yawning is our body's way of telling us that we
need more oxygen in our blood and less carbon dioxide. When we
breathe we tend to breathe deeply, inhaling as much oxygen as
possible, when we're bored or tired our breathing slows down taking
in less oxygen.
Some scientists suggest that we yawn in order to
cool our brains down. Ever yawn as soon as you wake up? Yawning has
been said to cool down our brains in the morning, when our
temperature is at its highest.
Another group of scientists suggests yawning
improves "arousal and mental efficiency." Meaning that the next
time you struggle to focus at work, a sneaky yawn will help you
stay on track. Coupled with contagious yawning, it can help improve
...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
stressful situation, many people will yawn
to help release stress inducing chemicals and calm the nervous
Are yawns contagious?
Ever wondered why you feel the uncontrollable
yawn after watching your friend, family
member or even pet 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."
Another theory suggests that we mimic yawns the
same way as we mimic emotions. For example, when talking to an
upset friend who is complaining about their day, their emotion is
shown through frowns and downward eyebrows, we copy their emotion
in order to imitate their sadness and this is the same when
yawning. This is due to human empathy and is our brain's natural
way of reacting to what it's being told and how it's being