Be it a lion or a hippo be it an unborn child or grandparents, everybody yawns, and since time immemorial, yawning is considered a sign of drowsiness and boredom. But did you know that yawning is linked to attraction?
It is linked to anxiety and is a sign of cooling of the brain?
Yes, you heard it right!
When we yawn, we open up our mouth, which is accompanied by a long inhalation, with a brief interruption of ventilation and followed by a short exhalation.
During this time, the eardrums stretch, and eyes may also close tight, causing them to water. Yawning is an involuntary reflex. This means it can occur when your boss is talking to you, or when you are on a live tv show. It is our body’s automatic response to something.
But What Something?
Let’s find out.
Why Do We Yawn?
There are many theories about why we yawn. It commonly occurs either before or after sleep or when we are bored, and it is a reflex that your brain induces to wake you up or make you more alert. Some suggest that we don’t breathe as deeply when we are tired or bored. Therefore, yawning helps us bring more oxygen into the blood and move carbon dioxide out.
But this has been contradicted by research, which shows that those who exercise more need more oxygen, so they should be yawning more, but that is not true.
The human brain works a lot and hence it is hot. It consumes 40 percent of our metabolic energy. One of the most promising theories on yawning suggests that yawning cools our brain and is triggered by a rise in the brain’s temperature.
Andrew C. Gallup and his team from the Suny Polytechnic Institute, USA have worked on the science of yawning and according to their research, three factors influence the brain’s temperature –
- Rate of arterial blood flow
- The temperature of the blood
- And the metabolic heat production within the brain.
They have found out that yawning can affect the first two factors – It can increase the arterial blood flow and allow the flow of cooler blood to the brain. which reduces the blood’s temperature. Along with that, deep inhaling can take in cold air and which can help in cooling the brain.
But what makes our brain hot in the first place?
Our brain’s temperature is influenced by several factors. Tiredness and boredom can cause a rise in the brain’s temperature and hence, yawning occurs more during those times.
Yawning is also linked to Anxiety.
During stress and anxiety, our brain’s temperature rises and that’s why we yawn more when we have anxiety.
Not only this, a more recent study suggested that yawning can stimulate arousal.
Yawning mechanically stimulates the carotid artery, promoting an increase in cortical arousal via neck compressions that accompany yawning.
Why is Yawning Contagious?
But what about contagious or social yawning?
According to a study, the likelihood of yawning increases sixfold after seeing someone else yawn.
Some scientists believe that contagious yawning may be a catalyst for conveying empathetic feelings or a means of social communication. Contagious yawning builds in the age of 4-5, at the age when the empathy feelings start developing.
Some scientists believe that this is linked with a phenomenon called Social Mirroring. It is a behavior in which one person unconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another.
This is due to the mirror neurons present in our brain which get activated when someone yawns.
If you are still here, then I am sure you have yawned quite a few times until now.
Now onwards, If someone nearby yawns, you know that it’s not just because of sleepiness. And this makes you equipped with the fact that you can yawn whenever and wherever you want to!