Why we yawn

Bored? Sleepy? Lack of oxygen? Who knows?

The Library of Congress posted an interesting analysis of this question in Everyday Mysteries: Why do we yawn? They conclude that it may serve a social function and/or a physiological one, which leaves the door pretty wide open.

The article claims that “generally speaking, we cannot yawn on command.” I find that I can yawn whenever I choose to, which is handy on airplanes. Do others find that they lack conscious control over yawning? (Stifling a yawn, however, is really difficult!)

Apparently 42-55% of non-autistic adults find yawning contagious. I’m surprised that the percentage isn’t higher. Do you find that the picture of the man yawning above makes you want to yawn? Try doing a google image search on “yawn” and see if you can escape the power!

As a bonus, I learned two nifty new words while reading this article:

  • pandiculation: yawning and stretching the body on waking up or getting sleepy
  • oscitation: yawning (“the involuntary opening of the mouth with respiration, breathing first inward, then outward”)

1 of 2 people learned something from this entry.

  1. Michelle said,

    September 21, 2012 at 6:33 am

    (Learned something new!)

    I am also surprised that it’s only ~1/2 of adults that find it contagious. I did yawn while reading your post… but I can’t tell if the picture caused it… since I’m tired and yawning a lot to begin with! ;)

  2. Marcy said,

    September 22, 2012 at 8:46 am

    (Knew it already.)

    But did you know that tortoises don’t find yawning contagious? Yay IgNobel Awards!

  3. Insolite | Pourquoi bailler est si contagieux ? | L'autre Comédien said,

    February 17, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    […] Source : Wkiri […]

Post a Comment

I knew this already. I learned something new!