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Science & Technology

What is the purpose of yawning ?

By T.K. Randall
May 15, 2014 · Comment icon 20 comments



Yawning is an extremely contagious behavior. Image Credit: sxc.hu
The conventional idea that yawning is a sign of tiredness or boredom is now thought to be incorrect.
Instead, yawning may actually be about regulating the temperature of the brain. Like a computer, the brain operates best within a certain range of temperatures and when it gets too hot a good yawn can help to cool it down, promoting clearer thinking.

Conventionally associated with tiredness, yawning was long thought to be a way for the body to help wake itself up using a sudden jolt of oxygen. While it is true that yawning occurs more frequently when we are tired, this may be because being tired and exhausted can raise the brain's temperature, leading to more frequent yawning in order to help cool it down.
These conclusions have also been carried across to the phenomenon of contagious yawning. In the case of a pack of animals for instance, yawning can help to keep the whole pack alert by having members subconsciously yawn when they observe one of the others doing it.

Yawning is so contagious in fact that even reading about it can induce yawning. It is quite likely that you've yawned at least once yourself while you were reading this article.

Source: Independent | Comments (20)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #11 Posted by Child of Bast 9 years ago
I read somewhere that yawning was also the cause of one's body requiring a boost of oxygen in the blood stream. I wish I could remember the article in question. That's what I have heard/read as well. Nothing to do with boredom.
Comment icon #12 Posted by BuzzLightYear 9 years ago
A little trick you can pull on a car load of people or a gathering of people is to yawn, wait a bit and yawn again. If you repeat this enough before long several people will start to yawn. LOL
Comment icon #13 Posted by Merc14 9 years ago
so they can smell your breath and see their vulva, and vice versa, ewwww!!!! I think you mean uvula but if they want to show the other bits it is fine by me
Comment icon #14 Posted by maximusnow 9 years ago
I buy yawn vacinations every morning, they last 5 hours and taste like fruit.
Comment icon #15 Posted by stevemagegod 9 years ago
I have actually "forgot" how to yawn. I don't understand why i can' yawn anymore. It's like i will feel this "surge" of energy come up but when i have my mouth open nothing comes out. I haven't had a good "yawn" in months.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Frank Merton 9 years ago
Sounds serious. Ayaunism. Get it treated.
Comment icon #17 Posted by TheGreatBeliever 9 years ago
It IS because we are tired n bored!
Comment icon #18 Posted by Junior Chubb 9 years ago
I have actually "forgot" how to yawn. I don't understand why i can' yawn anymore. It's like i will feel this "surge" of energy come up but when i have my mouth open nothing comes out. I haven't had a good "yawn" in months. Good brain ventilation or you are just to cool for skool
Comment icon #19 Posted by amaterasu 9 years ago
I yawn a lot when my husband explains his job to me. When he looks annoyed that I seem bored I tell him I have air hunger ....he seems to be happy with that explanation
Comment icon #20 Posted by FizzPuff 9 years ago
I thought it was cause we didn't get enough oxygen. So that it was our bodies way of "manually" getting more air or something... I can't remember the exact wording.


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