Sleep Health

What Makes Us Yawn?

What Makes Us Yawn?

Every existing creature on the planet yawns regularly, including humans, birds, animals, reptiles, and fish. Even babies yawn when in their mother's womb, and ultrasounds depict that. Yawning is a universal experience, so it should serve some purpose, right? Well, researchers and scientists have not been able to conclude a precise reason or purpose behind yawning yet. It has become one of the most inquisitve puzzles in the world of biology with no constructive and accurate explanation. 

As we grow up, we tend to believe the reason behind yawning is tiredness and sleepiness. However, yawning spontaneously is one of the most primitive behaviors. All the research papers you'll read on yawn will not have conclusions, but it'll be far than anything boring. There are many different reasons as to what makes us yawn but nothing precise. 

Yawning reasons suggested by Sleep Science

The scientific name for yawning is oscitation. Most of us try to hide yawning, so others don't think we're bored or feeling energy. Also, it's standard etiquette to cover your mouth while yawning. Other reasons that make us yawn are:

  • Health issues
  • Elevation change
  • Hunger
  • Boredom
  • Overheated brain
  • Stress
  • Social Influence
  • Tiredness

One of the most compelling reasons for yawning is seeing someone else yawn- like some contagious disease. But are there other reasons for yawning, or those mentioned above are it? Researchers and scientists aren't entirely sure yet. Research on yawns has been happening for decades, and various experts have different opinions. Some researchers say it's a social stigma, while others give psychological reasons behind a yawn. 

However, we have come a long from some theories which may sound absurd now. For example, the oldest theory explains yawning as a great way to clear "bad air" from the lungs, and it's a sign of incoming fever. Today, no one can precisely conclude the reason behind yawning, but we can be sure that fever and cleaning out lungs are not why we yawn. 

So why do we yawn? Below are some reasons put forward by researchers and experts about yawning.

Why do we yawn when we are exhausted?

One theory says that when we're in sleep debt, tired, and fatigued, the body's breathing fluctuates. This fluctuation results in the intake of oxygen going down and depriving the body of performing at its best. In the form of involuntary reflex, spontaneous yawning forces us to open our mouths wide and spread jaws to inhale a cleansed and big breath. 

This increases the oxygen levels in the body and flushes out carbon dioxide from the system. However, the theory is not conclusive, and other research says that two completely different mechanisms control yawning and breathing. A study on yawning suggests an involuntary reflex makes our body and mind more alert to the surroundings. Apart from increasing alertness, yawning is also connected to increasing heart rate and the release of hormones. 

Some studies say that taking a deep and big yawn boosts the brain, similar to a shot of caffeine. But then why do we yawn when we are sleepy? Another theory suggests yawning to be an indication. The voluntary indication is for the brain, letting us know that the body needs rest. Another fun fact about yawning is we tend to yawn when it's time to sleep, but we also yawn when we come out of sleep. 

Is yawning well for us?

Answering this question would've been much easier if we had a conclusive purpose on yawning. The only conclusion we have is that yawning affects most of the systems in the body. When we yawn, the air intake increases, the heart rate rises, the diaphragm flexes a little extra, and the lungs expand too. Other body parts involved in yawning are the thoracic muscles, larynx, and palate. Many people also stretch their bodies while yawning as a sign of releasing tension from the spine. 

One of the exciting theories about yawning is that it helps in the distribution of surfactants. Inside your lungs, there are tiny air sacs, which is a wetting agent. If this theory stands true, then yawning is undoubtedly a beneficial experience everyone should have. Also, it is a good-feel experience; stretching arms and body along with heavy inhaling and deep breath is very satisfying. The most puzzling aspect of yawning is we don't have a command of it. 

However, it can be considered semi-voluntary. A part of the brain is called the "yawning-center," and the reflex is controlled there. This part of our brain contains chemicals that include yawning, such as dopamine, glycine, and oxytocin, naming a few.

How to control yawning?

There are times when you're in a room full of important people, and you don't want them to see you yawn. The reason could be from bored to sleepy, but you can't show it to them. In such critical situations, there are a few things you can do to avoid spontaneous yawn like:

  • There's a theory that suggests people tend to yawn to cool down their brains. So, don't let the temperature get too hot around you in the room. If you get a chance to adjust the thermostat, just do it!
  • Use cold water. Another trick to keep yourself from yawning is to drink cold water when you feel a yawn is coming. It may not keep you entirely away from yawning, and there's a theory that dehydration also leads to yawning. So, keeping yourself hydrated is a win-win.
  • Slow and deep breaths through the nose also help against yawning. Remember the theory that says yawning increases oxygen intake? To regulate the breathing yourself and avoid yawning. 

How to make yourself yawn when you can't?

We talked a lot about yawning and how to control it, but what about times when you want to yawn? The reason could be anything from inhaling air to sleep. However, mostly it's to sleep and relax after a long and hard day. So, how do you do it? 

Research suggests thinking of something that provides you a comfortable sleep. For example, think of a mattress or go home to dive indirectly. A mattress is the best way to induce yawn and sleeping. It's a common fact that you sleep well when you own the best and quality mattress. If you don't have such a mattress, book an appointment with a mattress store like Mancini's Sleepworld

With our incredible technology known as SleepMatch, you can find the perfect mattress partner for quality sleep. SleepMatch takes in data, calculates the points against thousands of parameters, and then shows results. Alongside SleepMatch, sleep experts will help you determine the best mattress as per your budget with fantastic discounts and offers.

September 24, 2021