Why do we yawn?
The many reasons why we yawn.
Thinking or reading about yawning could induce one to open one's mouth and take a long, deep breath. Occasionally, this is accompanied by the stretching of the arms followed by a groan. This is most satisfying, unlike a yawn that is deliberately stifled. Seeing someone yawn would make one yawn. The most common reasons for yawning is tiredness boredom or lack of sleep. All mammals and animals with backbones yawn, as well as, fish, birds, snakes and crocodiles. Although animals yawn for different reasons than humans. There are many theories that abound about the reasons behind yawning, but some are inconclusive or unsubstantiated and many scientists are still in disagreement.
An average yawn lasts about 6 seconds.
When one person in a group yawns, 55% of the people in the group will yawn within 5 minutes.
Yawning due to lack of oxygen
One theory is that yawning is caused by the lack of oxygen and a buildup of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream especially during periods of inactivity. A yawn is then triggered by the brain in order to supply oxygen to the lungs. But then fetuses as young as 11 weeks are known to yawn and their lungs are yet to be ventilated. This shows that the lack-of-oxygen theory is flawed.
Yawning caused by imitation or empathy?
Why is yawning contagious? There are specialized cells in the brain called mirror neurons which make us empathize, meaning feel other people's feelings, including yawning. Watching a tear-jerker movie will move us to tears. Catching a glimpse of a colleague yawning in a meeting is enough to have most humans stifling a gape. Studies have shown that chimpanzees yawn in response to seeing other chimps yawn. This proves that chimps are able to empathize with other's state of mind.
Photo credit: Flickr by Smeagle -----------Photo credit: Flickr by Cory
Tiger quietly announces a phone call.
Have you yawned yet?
Congratulations, you are a very empathic person.
Yawning makes one more alert.
There is evidence that yawning jumpstarts the body for a main event. There have been so much yawning during the Olympics, and it was not because the athletes were bored or tired. Yawning routes extra surge of blood to the brain and prepares the body for major activity. These may be the same reason why paratroopers yawn before the first jump, students yawn before the final exams, and violinists yawn before the start of a concert.
Yawning is contagious!
This video will illustrate how watching someone yawn can make you yawn. Are you able to stifle your yawn before the video ends?
It's been a long day
These are street scenes of people caught in the act of yawning. Waiting for a bus could be boring and elicit a yawn. A whole day of serious window shopping with a little tyke tagging along could make a tired mother yawn. A nice big yawn is very satisfying after a long bike ride.
It is deemed not polite to yawn in front of your conversational partner as it would give the impression that you are disinterested or bored. You do not want to be caught yawning on your first date, meeting your mother-in-law, or at a job interview. Covering your mouth may be the proper thing to do, but surely the wrong message has been sent.
How many times were you tempted to yawn while reading this lens?
Do you pandiculate?
Stretch and yawn
Pandiculation is the act of stretching and yawning simultaneously.
Although this word is harder to remember than to do, it is no secret that we all pandiculate at one time or another; right after awakening from sleep, after a long, hard day of work, or when we are extremely weary and tired and are ready for bed. Stretching your arms out, breathing in air and exhaling is more satisfying than just to give out a mere yawn.
Photo credit: Joseph Ducreux self-portrait ca. 1783 - Wikipedia
How many times have you yawned so far?
Your heart rate can rise as much as 30 percent during a yawn.
Blind people yawn more after hearing an audiotape of people yawning.
Yawning cools the brain.
Researchers have found that yawning is a way to cool the brain. If you press a cold towel against your head and breathe through your nose, you are less likely to yawn.
This little puppy needs a nap.
"A yawn may not be polite, but at least it is an honest opinion."
Watch these tiny animals yawn.
Do you think these little creatures are bored or just sleepy?
Yawning as a form of communication.
In some animals, yawning is a form of communication and a show of dominance. Opening their mouths wide and baring their teeth is one way some wild animals behave when threatened. Some believe that yawning began with our ancestors to intimidate, dominate, and to signal change in activities
Photo credit: Flickr by Dan Wade
Reptiles yawn as a cool down method.
Crocodiles and alligators are cold-blooded animals and depend on their surroundings to maintain their body temperature. So crocodiles bask in the sun to warm up and get in the water to cool off. When it gets too hot, crocodiles open their mouths to let heat escape.
A happy hamster yawns
A hamster yawns right after a sleep or when it is feeling happy, relaxed and comfortable. So if your pet hamster yawns a lot, you know that you have a contented resident.
Ostriches yawn to synchronize activities of the group. - Based on pecking order
When ostriches are ready to settle down for the night, the highest-ranking birds yawn first, followed by the rest of the flock. This is the way the leader communicates to the flock to all settle down, awaken at sunrise, and feed together the next day.
Why do fishes yawn?
Not for the same reasons we do.
When a fish opens and closes its mouth, it is pumping water through the gills. The gills serve as a sieve to trap small particles. As water flows through the gills, oxygen passes through the blood-filled gill fillaments while carbon dioxide passes into the water. When a fish "yawns", it is forcing water to backwash across the gills and remove the particles blocking the gill filaments.
The male Siamese fighting fish is known to yawn before attacking its rival.
You would yawn too if you thumped all day.
Birds yawn to clear their airways.
Sometimes, a bird will open its mouth for a few seconds to dislodge some fluff stuck in its throat. It may do some stretching movements and shake its head to clear its throat. This makes it appear that the bird is yawning.
A bored feline
You might see cats yawning a lot because they are sleepy most of the time. Felines sleep at least 14 hours a day and prowl around at night.
After sunning herself most of the afternoon, my calico cat, Mali gives a mighty big yawn after a day of catnapping.
What is excessive yawning?
Could be a physiological problem
If you yawn one or up to four times a minute, then that is considered excessive yawning. This could be more than just tiredness, boredom or lack of sleep. It could be a sign of some health issues. Find out more here.
Fun video of a cat yawning
Webster's Quotations, Facts and Phrases
No More Yawning!
Why Is Yawning Contagious?:
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Human Body
And Some Things You'd Rather Not
The Mystery of Yawning in Physiology and Disease
(Frontiers of Neurology and Neuroscience)
This lens was awarded a Purple Star.
Nothing to yawn about.
Thank you to the Squidoo lensmasters who nominated and bestowed this award on this lens. It is greatly appreciated.
This lens is intended to make you yawn to prove one of the many theories that yawning can be induced just by reading about it. Or perhaps, you stumbled upon this lens while you were half asleep and the picture of mouths agape made you yawn. So, be honest now, did you yawn or were tempted to yawn while reading this lens?