Why Do We Yawn?

You may not be aware of it, but everybody yawns. Unborn babies yawn, and animals do it, too. The question is, why? There is no single answer, but many theories are certainly there to help you get an idea about why people and animals yawn. Let's find out more about it.

Why Do We Yawn?

You may hear people talk about different reasons behind yawning. The exact cause is unknown, but here are some possible answers to why people yawn.

You Yawn Because of Tiredness

Some people yawn when they feel tired or bored. When you are feeling tired, your breathing slows down significantly, resulting in less oxygen getting in your body. Yawning is supposed to help you take in more oxygen and move carbon dioxide out of your system.

If this theory is true, then yawning has to be an involuntary reflex. However, there are studies showing that even if you breathe in more oxygen, you still cannot stop yawning. Similarly, breathing more carbon dioxide is not going to increase yawning. It means there has to be another answer to, "Why do we yawn?"

You Yawn to Stretch Lung Tissue

Some people believe that yawning helps stretch the lungs and lung tissue. They also believe that yawning is actually a way to increase heart rate, flex joints, and feel more awake. There is again no scientific evidence to confirm this theory.

You Yawn to Keep Lungs Lubricated

Some people are of the view that yawning helps redistribute surfactant, an oil-like substance that keeps your lungs lubricated and saves them from collapsing. It does not seem to be true either – it implies that you will fail to take a deep breath if you did not yawn.

Facts about Yawn

Why do we yawn? Though without definite answer, there are many theories; and there are some facts associated with yawning.

1. Yawning Is Contagious

In a study, when people were shown videos of yawning, about 50% of them also began yawning. Researchers say that it is not actually a very strange reaction, as many other human reactions are also contagious. Watching someone laugh may also bring a smile to your face. This actually makes yawning more of a social phenomenon and less of a physiological phenomenon.

2. Yawning May Indicate a Disease

Yawning is usually harmless, but excessive yawning may indicate something more serious than sleep deprivation. Researchers have found that the vagus nerve reaction can lead to excessive yawning, and this usually means you have a heart problem. In rare cases, yawning may indicate an underlying brain problem.

3. Unborn Babies Can Yawn Too

Though it is not clear why, unborn babies yawn as well. With the use of 4D scans, researchers have identified the difference between an unborn baby opening his/her mouth to yawn and a "non-yawn mouth opening". Some researchers believe that it may be due to brain development.

4. A Yawn Lasts 6 Seconds

At least that is the case with an average yawn. While there is no scientific study to confirm it, some statistics show that the average length of a yawn is about 6 seconds. It is also found that heart rate may increase during those six seconds.

What If You Yawn Too Much?

It is a good idea to see your doctor in case you yawn too often and there are some other symptoms such as pain in certain areas, mind fog, and even lack of sleep. Be sure to share these symptoms with your doctor to help them make a correct diagnosis.

Is There Any Way to Stop It?

Why do we yawn? You already know that there is no single answer to this question, but you may also be wondering if you can do something to correct this problem. Here are a few things to try:

1. Breathe Through Your Nose

You should inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth to stop excessive yawning. This will provide you with enough oxygen and may help stop it before it actually starts. By taking deep breaths, you can send more air directly into your diaphragm. Just make sure to take belly breaths and do not pull air into your chest.

2. Enjoy a Cool Beverage

You may be able to suppress a yawn by cooling your body, and you can do it by drinking a cool beverage. You may want to try iced tea, ice water, or cool juice. While carbonated beverages may still help, you should avoid them to prevent excessive gas and other gastrointestinal problems.

3. Enjoy Some Chilled Foods

You may also consider eating some chilled food to suppress a yawn. It works quite the same as cold drinks do. You can eat refrigerated veggies, fruits, yogurts, or cheeses. It is important to avoid sugar foods, such as ice cream because sugar can make your body feel tired and result in excessive yawning.

6. Try a Cold Compress

If you do not get desired results from food and water, you may want to try a cool compress. Simply run cool water over a washcloth and then place it against your head for some time. You will notice a considerable reduction in your frequency of yawning.

7. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Having an active lifestyle will keep you healthy and prevent serious complications. You need to reduce the feelings of fatigue, and that can be done by taking a balanced diet and following a right exercise plan. You should exercise for at least 20 minutes a day a few times a week to stay healthy. This will reduce fatigue and make you healthy. You should also avoid sugar and processed carbs and include fresh veggies and fruits in your diet.

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