Yawning is a reflex in which you open your mouth wide, inhale deeply, and then swiftly exhale. After you yawn, you’ll usually feel more relaxed. There is no one-size-fits-all explanation for why individuals yawn, although there are numerous possibilities. While most of us think that yawning is a sign of tiredness, there are other reasons for our gaping mouths. In fact, yawning is a universal phenomenon that is observed in humans, animals, and even people who aren’t yet born.
Let’s take a look in the article below because we will explain some interesting facts about yawning in a simple and fun way. Although it is a normal reflex which happens to every human, some interesting facts about yawning below will surely blow your mind. From the science behind this phenomenon to the effect of too much yawning, you will be amazed and gain more insights from those facts below. Let’s jump to the list!
Table of Contents
- 1. Yawning Is A Natural Alert Sign
- 2. Babies Can Yawn In The Womb
- 3. Contagious Yawning Is A Emphatic Response
- 4. Yawning Can Cool Your Brain
- 5. How Your Eyes Water After Yawning
- 6. People Tend To Yawn More During Winter
- 7. The Length of Yawn Determines The Brain’s Size
- 8. Excessive Yawning Could Be Dangerous
- 9. Some Animals Also Yawn and Catch Yawns
- 10. The Longest Bout of Yawning
- 11. Yawn Used To Convey Message
- 12. Yawning Cleans Your Blood
- 13. Yawning Causes Brain Release Stress Relieving Hormones
- 14. A Man Almost Died After Yawning Too Hard
- 15. Females are More Likely To Catch Yawn
1. Yawning Is A Natural Alert Sign
Although yawning is typically associated with tiredness or boredom, this is not always the case. While someone who yawns may be weary, yawning causes the pulse rate to swiftly rise. Because of the higher heart rate, yawning may be a sign of alertness rather than sluggishness.
Moreover, yawning is linked to the release of hormones that boost heart rate and awareness for a brief period of time. So, when you’re sleepy or bored, yawning is your body’s attempt to keep you attentive and awake, albeit for a short period.
2. Babies Can Yawn In The Womb
Even in the womb, babies can yawn. Scientists from Durham University have discovered that unborn newborns yawn frequently in the womb. They don’t believe it’s because they’re tired or bored, though. The most likely reason is that fetal yawning is a necessary part of brain development.
They confirmed that babies actually yawn and do so frequently using high-resolution ultrasound images. Early in pregnancy, fetal yawns were more common than simple mouth openings, but this decreased after 28 weeks. In total, 58 scans revealed 56 yawns and 27 non-yawn mouth openings.
3. Contagious Yawning Is A Emphatic Response
Contagious yawning has long been thought to be a deep-seated indication indicating an emotional connection with another person. In fact, according to researchers from University of Pisa, yawns are more easily shared among people with strong emotional attachments, such as family members, than among strangers. While this may seem foolish in today’s society, it may have been a crucial collective activity for our cave-dwelling forefathers who needed to keep attentive as a group to survive.
Moreover, contagious yawning may be a social communication strategy unique to higher-order animals. In the framework of the brain-cooling theory of yawning, it’s possible that yawning developed to become contagious as a way for people in a group to improve their cognitive function and attentiveness.
4. Yawning Can Cool Your Brain
According to Gallup, yawns have long been associated with tiredness or boredom. However, new research from State University of New York reveals that yawning may help to cool the brain. The notion is that when you take a deep breath in, the incoming air cools your brain slightly. Another cooling factor is that extending the jaw increases blood flow to the brain.
In addition, our brain and body temperatures are at their highest point of the day when we’re about to go to sleep at night. As a result, yawning is a normal response that can assist in the cooling of the brain.
5. How Your Eyes Water After Yawning
When you yawn, some people notice that their eyes wet or tear up. In fact, yawning draws on and stimulates the lacrimal glands, which generate tears, resulting in watery eyes. Furthermore, most people yawn by closing their eyes, obstructing the tear ducts, which normally drain extra fluid from your eye.
Furthermore, when your facial muscles contract and your eyes become wrinkled up, any excess tears will stream out. It also could be due to dry eyes, allergies, or other conditions that impair tear production if your eyes water a lot when you yawn.
6. People Tend To Yawn More During Winter
When the outside air is cooler, you’re more likely to yawn, according to a study from Princeton University. Therefore, yawns won’t be as important in the summer since they are less likely to transport chilly air into the body. Meanwhile, the cold winter air triggers people to yawn more than the other season.
Moreover, yawning is a thermoregulatory activity. According to Gallup’s theory, colder outside air cools the brain better than hot air. When the air is cool, the body should yawn more, and when the air is hot, the body should yawn less.
7. The Length of Yawn Determines The Brain’s Size
The study, which was published in the journal Biology Letters, found a link between yawn duration and brain weight. The length of yawn also has correlation with the amount of cortical neurons, or cells in the cerebral cortex, the brain’s biggest section. When we yawn, our face muscles compress and then release, sending more heated blood around the head and allowing heat to escape. As a result, a larger brain needs a longer yawn.
The researchers looked at 205 yawns from mammals such as possums, African elephants, and humans. They discovered that humans yawned for seven seconds on average, while chimps yawned for five seconds. Meanwhile, mice yawned for an average of one and a half seconds.
8. Excessive Yawning Could Be Dangerous
Yawning that occurs more than once per minute is referred to as excessive yawning. Excessive yawning has yet to be determined. However, it can be caused by tiredness, sleep difficulties, pharmaceutical side effects, or even bleeding in or around the heart.
Excessive yawning can possibly suggest a heart attack in some situations. The vagus nerve, which goes from the bottom of the brain to the heart and stomach, is linked to excessive yawning. Heart attacks can excite that nerve, causing excessive yawning, which may be the body’s attempt to “fix” the problem.
9. Some Animals Also Yawn and Catch Yawns
Animals, just like humans, yawn frequently, and there are a few non-yawning animals as well. When animals yawn, their mental awareness increases and their anxiety decreases. Yawning can be noticed in chimps, dogs, cats, and chimpanzees, as well as humans.
Chimpanzees were more likely to catch the yawn when seeing other chimps yawn, according to a physiological significance. Another interesting truth is that dogs may catch yawns from people. Because they have empathy and sympathy for people, they may catch yawns from their owners.
10. The Longest Bout of Yawning
Dr. Edward W Lee recorded the case of a girl who yawned nonstop for 5 weeks in 1888 in the United States. According to Dr. Lee, the patient began yawning compulsively after a tooth was removed. Belladonna was eventually given to stop the yawning, however this resulted in a “violent” sneezing fit.
Later, the patient was subsequently sedated with chloroform, which momentarily stopped the sneezing but only for a short time before it resumed more aggressively than previously. Finally, daily little dosages of ammonium bromide and “bed rest” helped the patient.
11. Yawn Used To Convey Message
Almost all vertebrates exhibit yawning-like behavior, indicating that the response is ancient. Other social animals have shown that yawning or stretching signals occur when individuals’ alertness or vigilance levels drop. According to research by scientists from the University of Washington, they believe that the reason humans yawn has more to do with evolution than anything else.
Humans are sociable animals, according to the evolutionary based behavioral hypothesis, that will protect each other in a group. Humans may have used yawns to communicate before they learned to speak. Early humans may have used yawning to notify others, bare their teeth to ward off aggressors, or communicate in some other way.
12. Yawning Cleans Your Blood
When the blood requires oxygen, yawns are more common. A yawn results in a large breath intake and a faster heartbeat, which might theoretically suggest that more oxygen is being pumped through the body. So a yawn could simply be meant to assist eliminate pollutants from the blood and replenish oxygen levels.
Yawning stretches muscles and joints, raises heart rate, and may help the body prepare for heightened alertness, particularly after relaxation. This could explain why professional athletes and musicians yawn when they need to concentrate more.
13. Yawning Causes Brain Release Stress Relieving Hormones
When you yawn, your brain and body release stress-relieving chemicals such as dopamine, nitric oxide, serotonin, amino acids, and oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that has been linked to social bonding and mental well-being. Yawning can also be induced by injecting oxytocin into various parts of the brain stem.
Neurons on your brain enable yawning by releasing oxytocin at regions other than the paraventricular nucleus, such as the hippocampus, pons, or medulla oblongata, when stimulated by dopamine, excitatory amino acids, and oxytocin itself. This is why public speakers or anyone else who has to do something stressful yawn before a performance.
14. A Man Almost Died After Yawning Too Hard
In 2007, while making a cup of tea, a 34-year-old man yawned so hard that he dislodged and dislocated his jaw. After a few minutes of being unable to breathe or swallow, he collapsed and had to be transported to the hospital, where physicians used a suction apparatus to resuscitate him. Doctors claimed that the experience was not amusing and that he could have easily choked to death.
Doctors said that yawning-induced lockjaw is quite uncommon. Try to keep your yawning to a minimum, though. Doctors recommend that persons who have the problem lean forward or lie on their side in the recovery position to allow gravity to relieve the pressure.
15. Females are More Likely To Catch Yawn
People are known to yawn when they see or hear someone else yawn, or when they think or read about yawning. According to the Royal Society Journal, scientists have discovered that women are more susceptible than males to contagious yawning. This phenomena happens because they have a higher level of empathy for other people.
Scientists spent nearly five years documenting 1,461 instances of yawning restricted to 92 persons to explore this phenomenon. They discovered that on average, women replied to another person’s yawn 54 percent of the time versus 41 percent of the time for men.