Is Yawning Contagious? Find Out!
Thinking about yawning can also make you yawn, so is yawning contagious? Yes, or No? You might have thought about it several times when you were in a group with your friends, and someone yawned.
There are a plethora of mysteries about our body, and yawning out of them is no exception. It’s not incredibly flattering — and sometimes yawning is also seen as impolite — but we cannot stop doing it.
We typically believe in yawning as a sign that we are tired or bored, but a few people have reported yawning highly often when working out or while singing. So, if it is not just an indication that we’re bored or sleepy, why exactly does a person yawn, and why is yawning contagious? There’s a lot for us to find out.
Why do we yawn?
Experts have differentiated yawns into two different types. Two types are spontaneous yawning and contagious yawning. Spontaneous, as the name suggests, is the name that occurs on its own. On the other hand, contagious yawning occurs when you catch someone yawning. So, is yawning contagious? The answer is Yes. Yawning is indeed contagious.
But why do we yawn, even if it is spontaneous or contagious? You will be surprised to know that we do not know the main reason behind us yawning is. However, there are a few theories associated with yawning. It is believed that yawning helps us in:
- keeping the tissues of the lung lubricated.
- It helps bring more oxygen into our bloodstream.
- It wakes the body up.
- It helps regulate the brain temperature
let’s study the theories of yawing briefly.
Theories of yawning
While a few of the given theories have already been primarily deflated, one of the recent and striking theories that still carries some weight is that yawns are a way to control brain temperature. Is it possible? Let’s back up for a minute and find out.
The human brain functions excellently when it is operating at an optimal temperature. When the human brain is working warm, for example, cognitive execution by the brain may suffer. Due to this, our body has specific ways of reacting to fluctuations in temperature, such as shivering or sweating, narrowing or widening of the blood vessels, and triggering responses that prompt you to seek warmer or cooler air. This includes jumping the pool during the summer months or embedding inside your favorite blanket or cozy socks during the winter).
The thermoregulation theory of the brain implies that yawning is yet another way through which we cool our body down — significantly, to cool our brain down.
A body of research backs this theory. Different animal studies have revealed that yawns are frequently headed by rising temperatures within the brain and accompanied by a decrease in these temperatures. Still, a similarity between the likelihood for individuals to yawn and ambient air temperature also subsists. Beyond everything, the critical theory is that — given that the air surrounding you is of favorable temperature — yawning can help cool down your brain.
If correct, this idea will present physiological significance to yawning. Cooling the brain through yawning can probably help guarantee optimal cognitive performance. However, there are several doubters of the brain-cooling hypothesis related to yawning.
But even if a physiological analysis for yawning exists or not, what specialists do agree upon is the fact that yawning is undoubtedly contagious.
Causes behind yawning?
We yawn because it helps regulate the brain temperature (as per the theory of brain regulation). This is the most scientifically backed theory. A study from 2014 given in the journal of physiology and behavior looked upon the yawning habits of nearly 120 people. They found out that yawning occurred less during the winter months. If the temperature of your brain reaches out of the norm, you can inhale to help your brain cool down.
There are a few reasons why you yawn. These include:
- Tired- you begin yawning because your brain starts to slow down as you are tied, due to which the temperature of your brain drops.
- Bored– your brain does not feel stimulated and begins to slow down, leading to a drop in the temperature.
- Seeing others yawn– When you reside in a similar environment, you are exposed to an equal temperature, which leads to yawning.
Another cause that might lead to yawning is that your body wishes to wake itself up. The action helps expand the lungs and the tissues within, permitting your body to flex the joints and muscles. It might also force blood flow toward your brain and face to improve alertness.
Is yawning contagious?
You most probably know the answer by now. Yes, yawning is contagious. Similar to the strangeness encompassing why we yawn in the first place, specialists also are not quite sure is yawning contagious.
We know that spontaneous yawning — for any reason, it may occur — is an evolutionarily and ancient conserved behavior dealt among several vertebrate animals.
Contagious yawning, though, appears to be confined to just some of the animals, involving humans, non-human primates, as well as, domesticated dogs. What’s more, research suggests that contagious yawning does not seem in human behavior till our early childhood. When thought together, it is believed that contagious yawning might be one of the social communication tools distinct in higher-order animals.
In connection to brain-cooling theory with yawning, they were possibly yawning evolved later to grow contagious as a mechanism to enhance people’s cognitive vigilance performance and performance amid a group. While this might appear silly nowadays, it may have been a necessary collective action for our cave-living ancestors. They wanted to remain alert as an association to sustain in those days.
However, people who disregard this physiologically critical theory of yawning do still consider that the response has been maintained throughout evolution due to its social effect.
Mainly, these specialists think that yawning performs a role in human communication — that it is an indicator of some physiological state of mind. In today’s world, we think of it as a sign of boredom.
While it is not apparent what yawning communicates, a few experts consider that the contagious energy might also show compassion and coordinate the emotional situations between people. A new study reveals that we are highly likely to encounter contagious yawning with our nearest acquaintances than we do with strangers.
So, any time you yawn from today, think if you’re bored, tired, or neither, as well as if you’re yawning on your Ispontaneous yawning) or you’re simply yawning because it is currently on your mind. You might even try to determine for yourself which idea behind yawning you have faith in the most.
If you caught a yawn, then as per one study from Baylor University, it is a genuinely good thing because you are showing compassion and bonding. It’s notable to note that these outcomes cannot be generalized. When you do not catch a yawn, it is not a piece of evidence for sociopathic or psychopathic tendencies.
What do you believe now, is yawning contagious? If you are tired of infectious yawning and it bothers you, you can try some crucial ways to curb it down.
Ways to limit yawning
Here are a few ways to limit yawning in public places or during important meetings.
1. Deep breathing techniques
If you observe yourself yawning too much, attempt deep breathing activities through the nose. Your body might require more oxygen. A 2007 study further discovered that nasal breathing reduced contagious yawning entirely in their analysis.
2. Cool yourself down
It would be best to try practicing a walk outside or discovering space with a cooler temperature. If you do not have enough time to do this, eat chilled snacks, for example, baby carrots or fruits, and sip some cool water.
3. Get moving
Developing a new routine will also help stimulate the brain. Feelings of stress, boredom, and tiredness tend to make us yawn more. Too much yawning might also arise from taking in excessive caffeine or going through medical detox.
When to see a doctor for too much yawning?
You must visit a doctor if you feel you’re yawning too much or more than usual and going through different symptoms that conflict with your day-to-day life activities.
When you start yawning, inform your doctor about additional symptoms, such as lack of sleep, pain in certain areas, or even mental fog. This knowledge can assist your doctor in diagnosing the underlying cause and making treatment suggestions based on personal needs.
The Bottom Line
There are a few theories related to why we yawn and is yawning contagious. Recent researches and studies suggest it is a way the human body’s brain temperature. You might also notice yourself yawning more if you do not get adequate sleep and feel exhausted.
Now that you know whether yawning is contagious or not, you can quickly determine why you yawn so much and inform your doctor when needed.