Five Fun Facts About Yawning


Before you yawn through another one of my pieces, allow me to beat you to the punch.

Because, when it comes to yawning, there are five fascinating facts you should know about.

Yawning Really Is Contagious

One study figured out that nearly 50 percent of people began yawning when shown videos of others yawning. It happens among animals, too– a 2004 study observed the nature of yawns shared between chimpanzees, baboons and macaques. In fact, dogs are known to yawn after just hearing their owners do it.

But it’s really not that strange of a reaction, said Robert Provine, a psychology and neuroscience professor at the Unversity of Maryland. There are other human reactions that are similarly “contagious,” like laughing. Many studies have associated this contagious yawning to empathy, Decker indicates. “The yawning becomes more of a social phenomenon than a physiological phenomenon,” he says.

Yawning Is More Contagious Between Best Buds

Yawns are most contagious among good friends, one 2012 study says. “Researchers discovered that the closer you are to someone genetically or emotionally, the more likely it is that you’ll ‘catch’ their yawn,” HuffPost Science indicated. This falls in line with the empathy theory, because closer friends will have stronger feelings for one another, Decker said.

Yawning May Be A Sign Of Disease

Excessive yawning can, in fact, signal that you have a medical issue, in rare circumstances. For this select few, yawning could be a reaction caused by your vagus nerve– which might point to a heart problem, according to the National Institute of Health. It could possibly signal a variety of brain problems, too.

Fetuses Yawn, Too

Can you believe it: unborn babies yawn. While researchers used to dispute imagery of open-mouthed fetuses, a review of 4-Dimensional scans in 2012 differentiated between a developing baby opening its mouth and a different “non-yawn mouth opening,” HuffPost Science indicated. Since it might involve brain development, it may soon be used as a way to gauge a babe’s normal development, LiveScience reported.

The Average Yawn Lasts 6 Seconds

While not scientifically verified, many news outlets say the average yawn lasts almost six seconds. Heart rate increases significantly during the time you yawn. A 2012 study scrutinized the body before, during and after yawns took place and discovered that many of the physiological changes that occur during the time it takes to yawn are unique to yawning– and they couldn’t be fully replicated when participants were told to take a deep breath.


Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Chris Phutully

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