Why do we yawn? We are not the only species who yawns monkeys, dogs, cats, and even fish and babies inside the womb yawn but why? It is one of those truly unsolved mysteries, but there are some really interesting theories.
The one that seems to be the most pervasive is that it expands your lungs and brings in a ton of oxygen all at once. That oxygen goes to your brain allowing you to wake up. But is this true? It makes sense but scientists have shown that oxygen levels don’t actually rise when we yawn. So if it isn’t taking oxygen to the brain what is it doing?
It seems that there is a decent connection between yawning and temperature regulation. The hotter you are the more likely you are to yawn if you see someone else yawning. Yawns are contagious. I bet at least half of you have yawned just from seeing the picture above and I’ve yawned twice while writing this. It is that weird suggestible thing when someone even says yawn we all respond in kind, but we are less likely to yawn if you are cold.
As you lay in bed every night sleeping heat builds up throughout the night, which is why many of us immediately wake up and yawn. Your brain functions at its best when it is in a cooler environment. So we wake up and immediately cool down our brains. The circadian rhythm determines the heat of our body throughout the day. Typically the highest points are right before we fall asleep and first thing when we wake up. The average person yawns 8 times a day which seems to be a way to regulate our brains temperature.
Typically when one person yawns multiple people in a room yawn. This is more than likely an evolutionary process where one person sees another and knows that maybe they should regulate their brain too. It could also be because of empathy or mimicry. Sleeping cool could help eliminate the early morning yawns. When you keep your cool and regulate your body temperature you get deeper sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Experiment. See if you yawn when you wake up after a nice night’s sleep in a cool bed.