This post is a part of A-Z Challenge for bloggers, that takes place every year in the month of April. Bloggers take part in this challenge for self improvement and to overcome the “writer’s block”. Each one of us writes one article everyday, starting from the alphabet ‘A’, right up to ‘Z’. My theme for this year’s challenge is – mind-blowing facts and theories.
It took me really longgg typing this one down as I kept yawning the entire time! Although yawning is something everybody does, including animals, yet no particular physiological significance has been associated with it! Yes, for something we do multiple times a day, we basically don’t know why are we doing it! There are just theories claimed by researchers which prove to be true in some cases. Let’s look at a few of these theories that may cause us to yawn.
Drowsiness and Boredom: Ever felt the urge to open your mouth wide and just release that feeling of exhaustion right in the middle of a meeting or an important lecture? (stop yawning right at the start of my article now!) Well, boredom and drowsiness are commonly held notions associated with yawning. However, yawning is not a sign of sleepiness or boredom, but actually is a reflex induced by the brain to wake us up or make us more alert. Some hormones are released that briefly increase the heart rate. So, basically, it’s the body’s attempt to keep us awake.
Regulate the brain temperature: The theory of boredom or drowsiness was shunned when recently another physiological function of yawning was proposed, i.e, it regulates the temperature of the brain. Yawning is believed to probably cool down the brain when its temperature increases.
Contagious Effect: On the other hand, some believe yawning as just a contagious effect. It is said to correlate with empathetic skills in healthy humans. So, when we see someone else yawn or just hear the word ‘yawn’, the networks in our brain responsible for empathy and social skills are activated! So, now you know how to gauge if a person is empathetic or not. Just yawn in front of them!
Lack of Oxygen: Other commonly believed theory associated with yawning is that it is triggered when oxygen levels decrease and carbon dioxide concentration rise in our brain or blood stream. Yawning is thought to remove “bad air” from the lungs and increase Oxygen circulation in the brain.
Despite all these convincing theories, scientists haven’t yet confirmed the true biological function of a yawn!