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Six Fascinating Facts about Yawning

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  Oscitation, commonly referred to as yawning, is a biological mechanism among vertebrates. While some people view it as a sign of boredom, it is actually the body’s way of regulating itself. Ever wondered why there are instances when you do it more often than not? Then make sure to read on to learn more about this fascinating bodily activity:

1) Yawning, like flu, is contagious.

While it won’t lead to a fever or a runny nose, you can easily catch somebody’s yawn. In fact, it becomes ‘contagious’ during the first one to two years of an individual’s lifespan. Giving credence to this claim are several studies, among which shows that when one person yawns, more than half of his companions will do, too. The "transmission" happens in as fast as five minutes, with the other half of the group acquiring the tendency to yawn as well. Furthermore, studies suggest that it is more easily transferable in "related individuals," whether by blood or by affinity.

2) Yawning cools the brain.

Yawning occurs more often in the winter, so as to bring cool air to the person’s brain.

3) Yawning, scientifically, is a sign of boredom.

Yes, it is true – yawning occurs when a person is bored. Proving this claim is a research conducted in 1986. In the study, college students yawned more when they watched a color video, in comparison to when they watched a loud rock music video.

4) Yawning is not only for man – animals do it too!

A common activity in vertebrates, yawning happens to animals, too. Researchers have specifically observed this mechanism in chimpanzees, baboons, and macaques. Apart from transmitting it to the person beside you, your dog can easily catch your oscitation, too.

5) Yawning helps condition an athlete prior to an event.

Perhaps the best example of such is speedskater Apolo Ohno, who employs yawning prior to every event. Since yawning delivers cool air to the brain – especially the frontal lobes – it can help enhance the athlete’s attention span and concentration.

6) Yawning occurs in the womb, in as early as 11 weeks. 

Even the baby inside a woman’s womb yawns, too! According to several 4D ultrasound images, fetuses as young as 11 weeks yawn inside their mothers’ wombs. Such activity can be attributed to the brain development that occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy.   Additionally, yawning can be a glaring sign that you are sleepy, but did you ever wonder why? According to experts, the signal that initiates a yawn comes from a particular brain region, which stimulates other brain cells to produce the muscle contractions. This area of brain is made of chemical messengers that may induce yawning. Its production increases dramatically during sleep and just before waking--which may explain why we yawn at morning rise.  
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