4 Surprising Facts About Yawns

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Is yawning “contagious”?

Do we yawn because we’re tired, sleepy, or missing our morning coffee?

Science has several explanations for why we yawn, including several surprises that reveal a lot about the health of your body.

yawningFor a long time, many believed that a yawn meant you had too little oxygen.

Today researchers believe that yawning and breathing are controlled by two different mechanisms in the brain, according to Prevention Magazine.

Here are four scientific reasons we yawn, and what they mean for your body, according to Prevention Magazine:

Your brain needs “cooling.” A recent theory indicates that you yawn to give your brain some fresh air – and cool it down and give it extra energy in certain moments (when you have big yawns), according to the magazine. Sleep deprivation increases the brain’s temperature, which is why we might need extra energy and yawn when we are sleep.

You have a big brain. Researchers who studied mammals found those that let out big, long yawns had heavier brains with more brain cells. Assuming yawns do cool down and energize the brain, brains with more neurons would require more oxygen to “wake” it up, according to the magazine.

You might be having a medical emergency. Excessive yawning (more than you normally do) has been linked to having a heart attack, or stroke, or a brain tumor. Heart attacks can stimulate certain nerves that trigger excessive yawning, which may be the body’s attempt to “fix” the problem, according to the magazine.

And yes, your yawn is contagious. According to the magazine: “Experts believe we may have evolved to catch other people’s yawns as a way of displaying empathy for one another and deepening those social bonds. So it makes sense that further research discovered that yawns are more contagious the closer you are to someone.”

Researchers say the “contagious” yawn is strongest among family members.

And because research shows that Latina moms tend to have larger families than white or black moms, we suspect Latinos have a high degree of contagious yawns. 🙂

Read the full list at Prevention Magazine.

By The Numbers By The Numbers

22

percent

of Latino youth have depressive symptoms, more than any other group besides Native American youth

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