Tired or bored, sleepy or stressed; all these conditions lead to a reflex action called “yawning”. Sometimes at the end of a long and tiring day, I like to stretch and yawn my way into bed. But at certain places yawning can lead you into an embarrassing situation like in a work conference, in a lecture room or maybe on a date also. So is it something that you do intentionally or is it beyond your control, a reflex action that occurs itself.
Read on to find all about it:
What is a Yawn
An action where an individual opens his mouth wide open for few seconds and closes- is called as yawning. Biologically it is a reflex action that consists of inhaling, stretching and exhaling in simultaneous order. Yawning physically means the opening of mouth than inhaling of air followed by stretching of ear drums and finally exhaling of breath. Mostly seen to happen before and after sleep in adults. It also occurs during any activity that is tiring or boring. All humans and most vertebrate animals yawn.
Why we Yawn
There are many reasons as to why we yawn and scientists are constantly researching on the reasons that cause a yawn. Yawning happens when our brain needs to cool off and the reasons for that are many:
- Stress & anxiety: when we experience stress and anxiety our brain gets all worked up, to wind it down a bit, we yawn
- Tired: it is a well-known fact that we yawn when we are tired.
Bored: boredom also causes yawning and studies have shown that when boredom increases so does yawning
- Too little oxygen: when we do shallow breathing it causes yawning as the brain needs oxygen and hence we breathe in and out in form of a yawn
- Before and after sleep: yawning is one of the cues of the body when it is sleepy
- Another study suggests that people are more likely to yawn during winters as air is cooler outside
Yawning is contagious
Have you ever experienced that if you are in a group and one person yawns the whole group is likely to yawn one by one? We all have felt that yawning is contagious. It is true; yawning is one of the contagious human reactions. You don’t even have to be in a group, even two people can yawn one after the other. The catching nature of yawning was not only observed in humans but in other animals also during a study. Researchers have also found in advanced studies that closer you are to a person emotionally and genetically you are more likely to catch their yawn.
Interesting facts about Yawning:
- It has been found out unborn babies also yawn but the real reasons for that are still unknown. Researchers have been speculating that it could be something to do with brain development.
- The duration of an average yawn is said to be 6 seconds although there is no scientific study to back this up. During the yawn, the heart rate increases significantly.
- Excessive yawning could be a reason signal of an underlying medical problem. It could be something serious than a severe sleep deprivation. It could be a sign of brain problem or could be an indication of a heart problem.
Yawning is not as simple as you have always thought, there is whole body mechanism behind it, so next time you yawn do remember to analyze it, it sure will be fun!