14 Interesting Facts About Yawning: Why Do We Yawn?

We all yawn at one point or another. In most cases yawning is associated with boredom, fatigue, drowsiness and sleepiness, but yawning is an aspect of sleep that researchers have not yet figured out.

This does not mean we are in the dark when it comes to the question, "What does yawning mean?" There are many theories but little proof when it comes to yawning. There are two categories of yawning. The first one is spontaneous yawning. These are yawns that are as a reflex of the body, such as yawning due to tiredness or boredom. The other category is contagious yawning. These are yawns that are caused by watching someone else yawn.

Some of the amazing facts that are associated with yawning include:

1. Yawning Really Is Contagious

yawn really is contagious

A study that was conducted shows that when people are shown videos of yawning, around 50% of them will yawn. This also happens among animals.

This does not mean that one has to see another yawn. Even blind people will yawn once they hear a yawning sound. This catching nature of yawns has been tied to empathy.

Yawning becomes more of a social phenomenon rather than a physiological one. This explains why we yawn even when we are not tired. It is also interesting to know that yawns can be contagious between humans and their dogs.


2. Yawning Is More Contagious Between Pals

It is not just anyone who will pass a yawn to you. According to a research done in 2012, yawns are more contagious among the closest of friends. Researchers discovered that the closer you are to someone both genetically and emotionally, you are more likely to catch their yawn. This makes sense when it the empathy theory comes into play since close friends and family will have stronger feelings towards each other.


3. Yawning May Be A Sign Of A Disease

Yawning is very normal, but when it becomes excessive, it can in some instances be a signal of a much more serious issue beyond sleep deprivation. In some people, it could be a reaction that is caused by the vagus nerve, which could be an indicator of a heart problem. In some other cases it could mean a number of brain problems.


4. Even Fetus Yawn

No one has the answer to this, but even unborn babies do yawn. This could be something to do with brain development. It could be a marker of normal development of the fetus.


5. The Average Yawn Lasts For 6 Seconds

A number of researches that have been done indicate that the length of a normal yawn takes up to six seconds. There are a number of physiological changes that take place during the six seconds that are only unique to yawning. The changes are not similar to when one takes a deep breath.


6. It Helps To Cool The Brain

what does yawn mean

Studies have shown that when one yawns, it acts as a natural temperature regulator when the head is hot. It cools down the brain when it is overactive and maintain a balance. It also regulates metabolism as well. When you yawn the muscles of facial elasticity lead to increased blood flow to the brain. It helps to maintain focus.


7. It Increases Mental Acuity

When one is focused on s tedious job, or requires high concentration, the body consumes a lot of energy. This is why one tends to yawn when they are tired, unstable and inefficient at work. This is due to the mental and body fatigue. When you yawn, there is an increase in the oxygen supply to the brain, which helps one relax mentally and maintain memory.


8. Yawning Resets The Biological Clock

People who sleep late and sleep more tend to yawn. This is due to the fact that their biological clock is trying to reset according to their body. Yawn sleep helps to stir up the neuromuscular system and make progress in the brain-stem. It helps to regulate the circadian rhythm so as to do away with the effects of biological disorder. You will notice that you will yawn more when you change your time zone.


9. Yawning Enhances Fun

​When one yawns, there is an increase in the amount of dopamine in the body. This helps the body to produce a higher amount of oxytocin. This is a hormone in the body that enhances fun, excitement and happiness in the body. It also helps to relieve pain. This chemical is more active when you yawn more.


10. It Serves To Stretch The Facial Muscles

why-do-we-yawn

When one yawns, the facial and chest muscles are stretched. The eardrums are also stretched which leads to increased listening focus.


11. It Lubricates The Eyes

The tear glands that are next to the eyes are squeezed when people yawn. This serves to clean the eyes. One is able to get a clear vision. This is why most people will shed tears when they yawn.


12. You Will Yawn When You Think Or Read About It

what-does-yawn-mean

When you read an article about yawning you will most probably be yawning throughout the article or after reading the article. This also happens when you think about it.


13. You Yawn About 10 Times In An Hour

A healthy person will yawn about ten times in a single hour. This can occur as you wake up in the morning or late in the evening. This means that you yawn approximately 240,000 times during your entire lifetime.

Males will yawn much longer than females, something that has yet to be explained. During the time you yawn, the heart rate increases by as much as 30%.


14. You Cannot Suppress A Yawn

you cannot suppress a yawn

Clenching your teeth will not make a yawn go away. It is part of yawning to open the jaws. Trying to suppress it will only make you feel horrible.


In as much as yawning is healthy, it is important to note that excessive yawning is a sign of a health issue, mainly related to sleep disorder. It is good to see a doctor in case you notice that your yawning is far too much than normal. In most cases it may mean that you are suffering from sleep deprivation but not in all. However, in other cases, yawning is just a way for the body to regulate itself.

Another interesting fact is that yawning shares social aspects as laughter.

  • Jane
  • Updated March 11, 2017
Jane
 

I am Jane Collins, a Founder and a Main Editor of g9sleeptight.com. I decided to create this site to share my knowledge, guides and tips to help you to have a good night's sleep.

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