Holy Cow! Can someone tell us how not to yawn? We are asking because the very moment we thought of writing on yawning, we started yawning and we are in a frenzy that seems not willing to stop for the time being. So, what is this yawning and why does the very mention of the word makes us yawn? What do scientists have to say about this weird phenomenon? Let us try to figure out the answers to these questions through our list of 30 interesting yawning facts but we don’t want to make any promises because… well you will come to know
Interesting Yawning Facts: 1-10
1. The medical term for yawning is oscitation. It involves simultaneous stretching of eardrums and air inhalation which is then immediately followed by exhalation.
2. Most of the vertebrates in this world yawn and that includes humans, dogs, chimpanzees and others.
3. Yawning is extremely contagious. Even hearing the word ‘yawn’ can trigger yawing. Even looking at or hearing someone yawing can make us yawn.
4. So, what makes us yawn? This is one everyday mystery that scientists have failed to solve conclusively.
5. There are more than 20 different theories that explain why we yawn but not all experts unanimously agree to one single theory.
6. One of the most popular theories out there in market is that when the level of oxygen in the body depletes, we yawn to get the necessary influx of oxygen.
7. Studies however reveal something different. As a matter of fact, yawning actually reduces oxygen intake as compared to usual respiration.
8. Another bit of study found that yawing never decreases whether in level of oxygen is increased or reduced in inhaled air. So no wonder, reduced levels of oxygen in blood leads to yawing is not really a theory that everyone agrees to.
9. Another theory says that yawing helps to stretch the throat and tongue, which are important muscles responsible for helping us to swallow, breathe and talk and yawing just helps to stretch and refresh them and helps in lymph circulation.
10. Some say that yawns are caused by chemicals in brain. These chemicals are the same ones that control our appetite, our mood, our emotions and several other things. Proponents of this theory say that the chemicals that are responsible are nitric oxide, glutamic acid, dopamine and serotonin.
Interesting Yawning Facts: 11-20
11. Experts who support the chemical theory say that when more (or probably less) of these chemicals are activated in the brain, it leads to yawn.
12. Some blame yawning on nervousness. Those who support this theory say that the state of nervousness indicates a need for some actions. It is suggested by several anecdotal evidences that when a person becomes nervous they yawn and yawning increases alertness in them.
13. Not convinced? Okay, here is another theory – yawning helps to control the temperature of our brain. Researchers from University of Albany proposed this theory. They proposed this theory based on the fact that brains of mammals work best within a very narrow temperature range.
14. Some say that yawning helps to stretch the lungs and the tissues that surround the lungs. This in turn prevents the collapse of breathing airways. Guess what? There’s no real proof of this.
15. Yawning is categorized as ‘contagious yawning’ and ‘spontaneous yawning’. Contagious variant is quite self-explanatory, isn’t it? It simply means that we yawn when we see or hear others yawing.
16. Spontaneous variant is the type of yawning where we yawn because of physiological or psychological reasons like fatigue, boredom, stress etc.
17. You don’t buy the fact yawning is kind of a natural thing, do you? Well, to convince you that it is very very natural, scientists photographed yawning fetuses inside womb and guess what? Those fetuses were only 11 weeks old!
18. According to Harvard Health Publications, a person yawns about 10 times an hour and this is pretty much independent of gender, age, diet, physical fitness etc. On an average, a person yawns 240,000 times in whole lifetime.
19. Studies show that if you are NOT able to resist contagious yawning, it simply means that you are pretty empathetic. So, those with medical conditions like schizophrenia or autism are not much prone to contagious category of yawning.
20. Really! Believe us when we say that there is absolutely no side effect of yawning. If you happen to have forcefully resist yawning – contagious or spontaneous, nothing really happens. Your jaws don’t ache, your throat never swells up… just nothing happens! Why? Scientists are yet to figure out!
Interesting Yawning Facts: 21-30
21. There is something called ritual yawning. This isn’t very much seen in human primates but studies conducted with baboons show that alpha males will get busy with a series of long yawns. The purpose is to tell others in the group that it is bed time. Ritual yawning is nothing but a non-verbal communication.
22. As we age, our tendency to yawn reduces and this is true not just for spontaneous variant but also for the contagious spectrum.
23. A study from Harvard University has found out that yawning is not always nonsensical. In fact yawning can actually mean serious health conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease or even Migraine Headache.
24. On an average, a typical yawn lasts for about 6 seconds.
25. There is always a significant spike in the heart rate during a yawn. Why? No one knows!
26. We know that yawns are very contagious but watch out when you are with your best friend because that’s when ‘very’ becomes ‘very, very, very…’ You got the message right?
27. By now we know that animals yawn but what about the Siamese fighting fish? They yawn too! They yawn when they happen to face another fish from same species or they see their mirror image. Most important, their yawning is associated with attack – aggressive in nature.
28. Scientists say that dogs yawn when they see humans yawning and also under circumstances of uncertain feelings.
29. Studies suggest that 55% people will end up yawning within 5 minutes after they see someone else yawning.
30. Compared to people with ability to see, blind people will yawn more when they hear yawning either directly or in an audio tape.