Why Yawning Is Contagious And How To Get Over It
Here’s a fair warning: This article may make you yawn, either now or the next time you read the word ‘yawn’. Why? This is because when you read the word ‘yawn’, your mind immediately pictures someone yawning and that provokes you to yawn immediately.
We often yawn to signal that we’re either sleepy or that we find something to be boring or uninteresting. If this happens during a formal meeting, it is considered rude, but it also serves as a signal that perhaps the meeting needs to be wrapped up soon!!!
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So, apart from breaking up boring meetings, does yawning serve any other purpose? And why exactly is it so contagious that we start yawning if we see someone yawn – be it in real life or in a picture – or even if we read the word ‘yawn’?
It turns out that the mystery behind this seemingly simple concept of yawning goes back to the days of the early man. Yawning is a side-effect of human evolution over thousands of years. Researchers believe that yawning is a method of regulating the temperature of our brains. That is why we yawn the most when we’re sleepy or bored or any time when we don’t require our brains to function actively. This does not mean, however, that yawning affects our health. It is merely a symptom that we exhibit publicly. However, it is hard for humans as a species to stop yawning altogether.
The contagious part of yawning is interesting too. Scientists have observed this fascinating phenomenon not only in humans, but also in chimpanzees, wolves, baboons and even our neighbourhood dogs. Various studies have found that we simply ‘can’t help it’. With many cycles of evolution, our brains are now wired to signal a yawn if we see someone else yawn. Of course, this has to be an involuntary reaction. If you remain self-conscious and challenge yourself not to yawn, you will likely succeed.
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It is possible that there was a reason or a need for yawns to be contagious at some point of time in our history. Often there are evolutionary needs that we simply haven’t given up, even though we no longer need them and yawning might be one of them. So if you find yourself yawning too much, it is probably just a sign that you should start getting more sleep, or that you need to be more active at your job, or both.
You can also try the following quick tips to get over a yawn:
- Breathe deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
- Drink something cold.
- Chew a cucumber or watermelon.
- Keep your surroundings cool.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Take a quick walk.