Why do we yawn? Is it infectious? And why do the ears appear to have become deaf during a yawn?

When we are tired, sleepy, or sometimes bored, we often feel a weird sensation throughout our bodies. This feeling will give you quite a shortness of breath and would make you want to take a deep breath, which usually lasts for up to five seconds, although this is not your ordinary inhale-exhale routine. This weird feeling is what we call, yawning. When we yawn, it often comes with stretching our arms, legs, back, and neck.

After a good yawn, you will notice that you’d feel better, and your breathing will be more at ease. That is why most people say that yawning is a pretty satisfying body reflex.

However, despite its oddly satisfying feeling, we could still consider yawning as a mystery until today. There are still several questions related to yawning, and different universities are making studies to gain more information about its importance.

For starters, let us know what yawn is. This question is something we do not come across every day. On average, us humans yawn for about twenty times per day even though we don’t know for sure what is the importance of yawning. Another question would be, why do we yawn? Does it give us any health benefits? Is it required for us to yawn when we feel like it? These questions are only some of the several mysteries of yawning, which we will look into this article.

Why do we yawn?

It is clear for us that several factors can trigger yawning, and that includes fatigue, sleepiness, tiredness, boredom, and stress. However, answering the question as to why we yawn in response to these factors is still unknown.

Until today, there is still no definite study concerning the purpose of a yawn, and why do we involuntarily do this every time we feel tired or sleepy. Although there are several theories about yawning, there is still no valid scientific evidence or explanation that proves to us why we yawn.

One of the most popular theories regarding yawn is that it brings more oxygen to our bodies. This theory suggests that every time we yawn, we inhale less oxygen, which in turn will cause us to bring more oxygen to our blood and carbon dioxide out. However, scientists debunked this theory since other studies show that increased oxygen does not result in less yawning, as well as increased carbon dioxide, which does not lead to more yawning.

Another theory suggests that when we yawn, our lungs, as well as its tissues, stretch, which allows the body muscles and joints to flex.
These studies are only some of the many theories proposed by scientists and universities. However, like what we mentioned earlier, these are merely theories, and no proven scientific documents are claiming the definite purpose of yawning.

Is it contagious?

Despite the uncertainty of yawns, there is one study about it that seems to be factual. Reading this article from the start, up to this point, have you notice that you feel the need to yawn? Or did you yawn after reading the word, YAWN? If yes, how many times did you catch yourself yawning if you could remember? Studies are stating that yawns are indeed contagious. Have you ever experience during a family gathering, when one person yawns, the others would follow. That is because seeing one person yawn will give us the feeling that we need to yawn as well. Sometimes just thinking about the word yawn, reading, or hearing it, would also give us the weird sensation to yawn. All of these factors boil down to the same idea that yawns are contagious.

An interesting fact about yawns is they are not only present in humans, but also some animals, including dogs, cats, chimpanzees, birds, and reptiles. And for all these animals, yawning is also contagious. One study from Baylor University suggests that yawning is infectious, which is mainly for showing empathy and bonding. Meaning to say, yawning right after seeing another person yawn could gauge a person’s level of empathy and bonding.

Do we lose our sense of hearing when we yawn?

We do not entirely lose our sense of hearing whenever we yawn. Although when we yawn, there are effects on the way we hear, which appears to weaken it. The explanation for this is when we yawn, a muscle in our middle ear called tensor tympani, contracts. This muscle is responsible for reducing sound sensitivity responding to various sounds. Every time we yawn, our ears automatically contract to weaken the sound coming in. This contracting of the ears is essential when we yawn to reduce the noise of our jaw muscles and avoid any ear damage.

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