Oscitation or the act ofyawning is the involuntary opening of the mouth with respiration, breathingfirst inward, then outward. Even thinking of yawning can cause you to do so,and it isn’t something you should try to stop if you feel it coming. If youyawn it’s usually because your body needs it. So, what’s the reason behind thisuncontrollable act called yawning? Almost all vertebrates yawn.We do this on a daily basis. Maybe in a boring meeting or class, in themornings when we wake up, or even at night before we go to bed. Humans as wellas different animals including some fish, birds and even snakes yawn.
Somesnakes usually yawn after a good meal. There are animals that yawn to showaggression like baboons and guinea pigs. Penguins yawn too, but presumably notbecause they’re bored, and only yawn during courtship rituals. There are many theories whichleads to why we actually yawn, but people’s opinions differ. One common theoryamongst various of people is that we yawn due to lack of oxygen in our bodies,but this theory has mostly been proven to be false. A newer, most recent studysuggests that yawning has nothing to do with being bored or tired but insteadwe yawn to regulate our brains temperature. A 2014 study published inPhysiology and behaviour looked at the yawning habits of 120 people and it hasbeen found that yawning occurred less during the winter.
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If the brain’stemperature gets too far outside of the standard temperature, inhaling air canhelp to cool it down. Think of it as a computer. Ayawn is like a computers fan. Just like a computer the brain also has anoptimal working temperature, and when it becomes too hot, yawning helps to coolthe brain down, increasing both your heart and your blood flow, while getting ahuge gulp of air to the head, cooling the blood in that area. You might ask why we yawn whenwe are exhausted. Both lack of sleep and tiredness are known to increase thetemperature of our brains. While it’s true that we yawn due to lack of sleep,yawns do not actually make us “more awake” but instead help keep our brainsoperating at the correct temperature.Previously we thought thatyawning served as breathing function, helping us to wake up with a great amountof oxygen when we were feeling inactive.
Studies have shown that when we yawnit doesn’t rise the oxygen levels in the body, something that agrees with thesimple observation that we do not yawn while exercising, a time when wedefinitely need more oxygen. Another question that’s onmost people’s minds is if yawning is in fact contagious. If you did catch ayawn during looking at images of people yawning or yawned during this speech,hopefully not because of boredom, it’s a good thing.
According to a study fromBaylor University you are showing empathy and bonding. The study which were publishedin Personality and Individual Differences, looked at 135 college students andtheir personalities. It showed how they reacted to facial movements. Theresults showed that less empathy a person had, the less likely he or she wouldyawn after seeing someone else yawn. Another study from theUniversity of Albany which found that contagious yawning can in fact bedirectly influenced using hot and cold objects.
Researchers found that peoplewatching a video of people yawing were 41 percent likely to yawn themselveswhile holding a warm objects to their head, but only 9 percent likely to yawnwhen holding a cold objects to their heads. According to NY daily newsother animals yawn too. Just like human beings when, primates like monkeys arearound someone they are close with, they might display a contagious yawn. Dogsyawn too, but not because of other dogs but because of their masters actually.The research thus concluded that yawning is contagious to animals.
Yawning is so contagious thatwe only need to hear, read or look at pictures or other people yawn, to want toyawn ourselves. If you did yawn during this speech, I’m assuming it wasn’tbecause you are bored, but thanks to your yawning and your newly cooled brain,you’re probably more alert than you were before.