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What Makes You Yawn?

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(And no, we’re not talking about specific people, TV programs, or situations. Or The Situation, for that matter) I’d always heard that we yawn to get more oxygen into our bodies quickly. But, like so many things I thought were scientifically true, this is just plain wrong.

In fact, no one is exactly sure why we yawn. But there are a few theories out there trying to explain it.One says that yawns may help cool our brains. It is known that our brains work best when kept within a rather narrow temperature range. Yawning increases blood flow to the brain, which helps cool it as needed. Yawning may also be a social signal to stay alert, even if whatever is going on at the moment is boring [this may date back to humanity’s hunter-gatherer days, when being on the ball could help keep you alive when danger popped up suddenly].

Okay. So why do we yawn when others around us yawn first? Well, just thinking about yawning can bring on a yawn [you may have yawned while reading this article. I’m not offended. I’m yawning as I write it…]. One study last year says we’re most likely to yawn when other family members yawn in our presence. Then come friends, aquaintences, and strangers. Another theory says that we yawn around other yawners to fit in and be liked. Maybe…

So is there anything we can do for major yawn attacks? Well, a study found that putting a cold cloth on your forehead, or breathing through your nose, can help. Maybe there’s something to that “hot brain” theory after all…


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