Can you remember the last time you yawned, and how you were feeling at that moment? Were you tired? Bored? Did you yawn because you saw someone else yawn? – Yawning is a very interesting act because people seem to yawn for many different reasons! While nobody knows the exact reason why we yawn, scientists and doctors have a few pretty cool ideas!
One commonly cited idea behind why we yawn has to do with getting more oxygen into the body, since yawning requires you to take a big breath of air. This theory says that we yawn when our bodies tell us we need a little extra oxygen. While some studies have shown that needing oxygen might not actually have a lot to do with what causes a yawn, other people say that the oxygen-theory is good for explaining why we yawn when we’re tired or bored (and breathing more slowly).
Another idea about why we yawn is that some research has shown it helps to cool off the brain! By bringing in crisp, fresh air, a yawn might help your brain to cool down and wake up! A third idea also says that yawning might be about helping your body to stretch muscles and joints in your face and chest. (And who doesn’t like a good stretch?!)
What other ideas have you learned about or thought of?
ExplorationHave you ever heard the special medical term for yawning? – It’s “pandiculation”!Did you know that humans aren’t the only ones who yawn? Most mammals yawn, as well as some types of birds and reptiles. Have you ever seen an animal give a great big yawn? Does it make you yawn just thinking about it??
Sources & links
“pandiculation.” MedTerms Dictionary Online. 2003. MedicineNet. 18 Nov. 2009 Viegas, Jennifer. “The Yawn Explained: It Cools Your Brain.” Discover News. 15 Dec. 2008. Discovery Communications, LLC. 18 Nov. 2009 “Yawning… And Why Yawns Are Contagious.” Neuroscience for Kids. 2007. The University of Washington. 18 Nov. 2009