By: Radhika Bajaj
You’re trying to complete your research project. Viewing countless websites and articles, you’re reading the words but not registering what the information means. Furthermore, you start yawning because you are bored and tired. I, myself, have experienced the endless yawning during classes, wondering what impression my teacher will have of me. But, it’s just uncontrollable! For some, just thinking about it makes them yawn. You’ve probably even heard people say that it’s contagious. So what purpose does yawning serve? Is it actually contagious?
Scientists don’t have one definite answer to explain why we yawn. The mechanism involves a few theories. In the past, some people claimed that we yawn to bring more oxygen into the blood to make you more awake. However, this theory is now quashed. A popular explanation is that yawning stretches the lungs, lung tissues, and jaw. Allowing the body to flex its muscles and joints increases heart rate and blood flow. In turn, this solves the problem of boredom and tiredness by making you more alert. Additionally, yawning has been seen to increase the flow of spinal fluid and blood from the brain. Another theory includes the idea that yawning plays a role in brain temperature regulation. The inhaling of colder air outside could cool the hot brain. One study found that yawning occurred more frequently in people during hotter temperatures (summer) than during cooler temperatures (winter).
A Way to Communicate
You may have heard people say that yawning is contagious. The neat thing is that this is true. Watching other people yawn makes you mirror it. But then how does this work? The idea of yawning being contagious is related to social competence and empathy. Many studies back up this correlation between empathetic people and yawning. Furthermore, yawning is a sort of communication tool for humans. For example, it could be a way for humans to express their boredom, tiredness, or alertness.
As I said before, yawning is just uncontrollable! Need some remedies for the next time you are completing a project yawning? Walk around to wake yourself up or get some cool air. The definite answer to why we yawn is yet to be found, but the theories seem so interesting! Who could imagine that yawning could be a way of communicating?