Whether we’re tired or not, at some point during the day it is inevitable that we yawn. Although it is entirely easy and natural, there are a number of reasons why we actually do it. Traditionally, a yawn was thought to be a clear sign of tiredness, however this may not necessarily be true. Yawns are also a kind of phenomena since they are infectious and uncontrollable, yet we can also yawn at will. Furthermore to the mystery of yawning, unborn babies, mammals, birds, fish and reptiles all yawn too!


What Is A Yawn?
Lasting for about six seconds on average, a yawn is actually a three part process. Firstly, a yawn begins with a gradual inhalation of air, then when the body reaches its maximum, it is followed by a quick exhalation of air. Funnily enough, a yawn often occurs with a stretch which happens to be a common behavioural activity in the mornings when we wake up, and when we are about to fall asleep. During the process of yawning, a number of bodily changes occur at a faster heart rate.

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Why Are They Contagious?
If you are aware of someone yawning near you, or you witness someone yawning right in front of your eyes, you will find it is very hard to stifle a yawn yourself. Contagious yawning is actually a sign of empathy and demonstrates our ability to relate to others. A child will start to develop empathy skills around the age of five and it is also interesting how studies reflect that you are more likely to yawn if a loved one does rather than a stranger. The same goes for dogs and their owners and animals that travel in packs. Furthermore, those who are autistic or suffer from other social developmental disorders aren’t so receptive to a contagious yawn, reflecting their different behaviour in social situations.

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Reasons Why We Yawn
Although there could be many underlying scientific reasons as to why we yawn, we just aren’t able to explain them yet! However, here are five main reasons for yawning:

1. Tiredness
Perhaps the most obvious reason for yawning, but it also reflects when we are feeling calm and energised for example when we wake up.

2. Oxygen Requirement
Another theory suggests that we yawn because we need to increase the amount of oxygen in our blood or to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide. However, there are some who disagree with this idea because studies have shown that when we breathe pure oxygen, it doesn’t affect the occurrence of yawning, for example unborn babies in the womb.

3. Cool The Brain
Although yawning can increase heart rate, it also helps to cool down the brain due to the intake of air. This is perhaps why we yawn more in hotter temperatures.

4. Boredom
Contrary to common belief, yawning and boredom have no direct links! If anything, the extra inhalation of oxygen increases the body and brain’s alertness.

5. Contagious Yawn
Even if we don’t feel like yawning ourselves, the awareness of someone else yawning will make us repeat the action.

After reading this blog, we are sure you would have yawned a few times yourself! The concluding factor is that they are a simple part of daily life and a phenomena which is open to further investigation.

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