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Let’s Talk About Yawning!

August 22, 2022 by The Sleep Company

Yawning

Everyone yawns, including grownups, infants, and even animals. Have you ever wondered what caused this unique phenomenon? For the precise cause of this reflex, scientists have put up a number of theories. Yawns are frequently connected to tiredness or boredom. Research on many mammals has shown that while they are sleeping or relaxing, they yawn more frequently. Recent research indicates that yawning may have vital physiological or social purposes.

Yawning: What Is It?

Yawning is an ancient phenomenon that many creatures, including fish, birds, and reptiles, as well as humans, share. Around eleven weeks during the pregnancy, humans start to yawn. However, until we are about four or five years old, we do not sense the impulse to yawn when other people do.

This suggests that there are two different sorts of yawning: contagious and spontaneous, each of which needs its own justification. Despite the fact that we have some intriguing theories, yawning continues to be a mystery.

Why Do We Yawn?

Why Do We Yawn?

To activate the brain:

According to a theory, yawning may assist in keeping the brain alert when engaging in dull or inactive activities. Yawns need the contraction of the neck and facial muscles. The carotid artery may be stimulated by this movement, raising heart rate and triggering the release of hormones that keep people awake.

Additionally, yawning may cause brain fluid to move from a network that is at rest to one that is more active, which would have a direct effect on brain activity. For instance, people are more prone to yawn while they are engaged in something inactive, such as driving, watching television, or listening to a lecture. They are less prone to yawn when they are engaged in an activity like talking or cooking.

To help the brain cool down:

Brain thermoregulation is a process through which the brain maintains its internal temperature. This process may be facilitated by yawning. As you yawn, the muscles in your face contract and move, boosting blood flow to the face where heat can escape more quickly. The eyes may moisten and possibly become hot when someone yawns. Perhaps taking a deep breath of fresh air will help chill the blood that is being sent to the brain.

A person’s symptoms may be momentarily relieved by yawning if they suffer from a condition that raises core body temperature, such as multiple sclerosis, anxiety, or stroke. These circumstances frequently result in excessive yawning, which may be a normal reaction to heat exhaustion.

Acts as a respiratory function:

Yawning might be a result of breathing. When the blood needs more oxygen, yawning may be more common. A yawn creates a large breath intake and a rapid heartbeat, which potentially may indicate that more oxygen is being pumped through the body. Therefore, a yawn might just be intended to help the blood become more oxygenated and rid of pollutants.

Serve as a medium for communication:

According to some academics, evolution played a bigger role in why people yawn. Yawning might have been the first form of vocal communication utilized by humans. Yawns are regarded as a symptom of boredom or drowsiness, and it’s possible that’s what prehistoric humans were trying to say. Early humans might have employed yawning as a way to communicate, to alert others to their alertness, to display their teeth to attackers, or for some other purpose.

Is Yawning Contagious?

Is Yawning Contagious?

There is a general consensus that yawning is contagious. People frequently yawn when they observe or hear someone else yawning. They are more likely to yawn if they feel close to that yawning individual. Humans yawn from the time they are infants, but they do not become sensitive to contagious yawning until they are between the ages of four and five when they develop the neural connections necessary to understand how other people feel.

Contagious yawning has been linked in certain studies to greater empathy levels. Conditions like schizophrenia or autism spectrum disorder that impair social skills also appear to lessen contagious yawning. The tendency to yawn in reaction to other people’s yawns is also lower among those who score higher on selfishness, callousness, and other antisocial personality traits.

How Much Yawning Is Excessive?

There is no established standard for how much yawning is excessive, however, some professionals believe it is abnormal to yawn more than three times in a 15-minute period if there is no evident reason for it. Normally, an individual yawns up to 28 times a day, mostly right after waking up and right before bed. 

Yawning is regarded as abnormal and could be a sign of an underlying condition if it doesn’t occur in the presence of exhaustion, boredom, contagiousness, or other common signs. It may be caused by damage to the parts of the brain involved in yawning. Excessive yawning can be an indicator of neurological conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, migraine, and brain tumor. The likelihood of experiencing excessive yawning is also higher in people with sleep disorders including insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea.

Ways to Control Yawning

Try the below-mentioned methods to keep your yawning under control:

Practice deep breathing:

If you frequently yawn, try doing some deep breathing exercises through your nose. A study discovered that nasal breathing reduces contagious yawning.

Improve sleep:

For better quality sleep:

Change routine:

Your brain can be stimulated by changing up a routine. People frequently yawn more when they are exhausted, bored, or under stress. By changing your schedule, you can make yourself more active and reduce yawning. 

Cool yourself down:

You might try going for a walk outside or finding a place that is cooler to relax. If you don’t have time to do this, get yourself hydrated or have foodstuffs known for their cooling properties. These activities also help in reducing your yawning.

Conclusion:

It is clear that yawning is a natural phenomenon that happens to everyone. Yawns are typical reactions to other people yawning as well as to feelings of fatigue, boredom, hunger, or stress. However, if you are yawning more than usual and you are not sure about the reason, consider the above-mentioned tips or seek help from your doctor. 

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