Why Do We Yawn?

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Yawning is commonly associated with being bored or tired, but that isn’t entirely correct. Some science suggests yawning is more likely the body trying to regulate or stimulate the brain.

There are many studies that have linked feeling tired or bored to the brain slowing down or lacking stimulation, making its temperature drop. The role of a yawn may actually be to help regulate our brains temperature.

Another popular theory is that yawning is the body trying to wake itself up. Two separate studies looked at changes in the body in the 70 seconds following a yawn. The body showed signs of arousal, such as increases in heart rate, air in the lungs, and eye muscle tension, which are very similar to the effects of caffeine.

Studies also suggest yawning may stimulate the carotid artery located on either side of the neck, responsible for blood supply to the scalp, face, neck and brain. Stimulation of the carotid artery is thought to arouse the brain, as well as increase circulation.

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There are many theories on why we yawn, but scientists are yet to find a conclusive answer, and it’s possible there could be a range of reasons.

The strangest part about yawning is that it is extremely contagious - seeing, hearing, reading or even thinking about yawning can trigger one. Even pictures of people yawning can set us off.

Scientists aren’t entirely sure why this happens, but some researchers suggest contagious yawning may be due to our predisposition for empathy.

Another study suggests we are more likely to catch a yawn from someone familiar, like a family member. However, the jury is out on what is truly the case.

So there you have it, a better understanding of why we yawn.