Y is for Yawning

| April 14, 2014

Yawning. Why do we yawn? Does it serve any purpose? It seems to be a representation or some expression of being tired, but why do we need to have an outward expression of being tired? Why do you yawn just from seeing someone else yawn? This is what wikipedia has to say about it:

A yawn is a reflex consisting of the simultaneous inhalation of air and the stretching of the eardrums, followed by an exhalation of breath. Pandiculation is the act of yawning and stretching simultaneously.[1]

Yawning most often occurs in adults immediately before and after sleep, during tedious activities and as a result of its infectious quality. [2] It is commonly associated with tiredness, stress, overwork, lack of stimulation and boredom, though studies show it may be linked to the cooling of the brain.[3] In humans, yawning is often triggered by others yawning (e.g., seeing a person yawning, talking to someone on the phone who is yawning) and is a typical example of positive feedback.[4] This “infectious” yawning has also been observed in chimpanzees, dogs, and can occur across species.[5][6] Approximately 20 physiological reasons for yawning have been proposed by scholars, but there is little agreement about its main functions.[2]

On the one hand who really cares why we yawn, if no one ever really figures it out, the human race will not have suffered a serious blow. But it’s just something that at times pops into my head, and I realize that it’s an incredibly strange event that is so commonplace that no one really pays attention to it, and these types of things can sometimes lead to the most fascinating realizations. That being said I don’t believe anything brilliant will ever be discovered in connect with the yawn, but who can really say?