Why are you yawning? Why do we even yawn at all?
Ever wonder why you yawn? What brings it on? What is its purpose in the body mechanism? Does it have any effect on the ‘yawner’ or those around him/her?
I was wondering about these myself, so I decided to go on a little fact finding mission and here are some of the things I found out coupled with what most of us know already.
You probably know that yawning is generally linked to hunger, tiredness, sleep, boredom, cold and even illness. But here are certain things you might not know about yawning:
* Yawning starts at foetal stage of about 11 weeks old, according to research. (who says they are not human yet?)
* Yawning is associated with arousal, including sexual.
* It is not only spontaneous and unconscious, but cannot be commanded and mostly cannot be stopped till it runs its course.
* The most intriguing of all – yawning is contagious. Have you noticed that you yawn when you see, hear or even read about it? You probably have yawned once or twice since you started reading this, yea?
Actually, scientists and researchers have more of theories on yawning without much proof. What is clear however is that most vertebrates, including fish, yawn.
Yawn can serve the social function of communicating boredom, tiredness, sleepiness or lack of it, and physiological function of regulating the body temperature. The latter is the latest theory propounded by Andrew Gallup, a psychology professor. According to Gallup, yawning acts as a radiator to the brain. It cools the brain by removing (hot) blood from the brain while introducing cooler blood from the lungs during the process of yawning. But what of yawning in cold weather I dare to ask? This theory even though popular, is still tentative, like the rest of them.
Science and research apart, I know, like you do, that everybody, irrespective of age, race, colour, location, yawns. From only God knows when, people and animals have been yawning, it is not a learned social skill, it just happens. Therefore, there need not be any proof to convince us its function must be necessary and beneficial somehow to the human body.
However, as in everything in life, excessive yawning can be a sign of some form of disorder in the body. For me, like the great Hippocrates of old, excessive yawning, especially when accompanied by long, sweet stretching of the body, is a sign of fever. The scientists attribute excessive yawning to what they call vasovagal reaction, indicating anything from sleep disorder to heart attack. In this instance, it is time to visit the doctor.
So whenever you are in a group and you yawn, take some time to observe how many people in that group will catch the yawn.