Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A contagious phenomenon

Have  you all noticed that every morning we wake up by either stretching ourselves wide or having a huge splurge in and splurge out of air.We are sitting idle just gaping at the sky ,and are lonely ;or are too busy with loads of work and need to stay awake ,then too we have this wide yawn and stretch.Some of the common situations ,where you and me would have experienced a loud /silent yawn:  A  lecture  session is going on at college classroom  and we have our involuntary reflex yawn and consequently end up going out of the classroom .Ur friend/wife is talking some "so called interesting topic ,or narrating a story /gossip",and your yawn makes her frown:)So your yawning would signify the opponent person that you are "bored". Even a very persistent strenuous effort to avoid this would be in vain,because this phenomenon is so involuntary!My grandma always used to say that somebody is trying to remember me ,when I was yawning too many times ;so this was a very common myth i heard from lot of people later too.There may be a lot of other myths associated with it too.Also, if you noticed ,if we see someone yawning,we too catch up that yawn ,feels as is it was some "contagious disease" to catch up!If you are sitting with a group of friends and having a talk,aDoctor's waiting room or a reception area where lot of people are waiting you have a yawn ,and all other too!or imagine the scene of a meeting at a conference hall,where one ignorant person yawns and then the whole bunch of people repeats this as if it was a hierarchy to be passed on!Some people may even have a yawn with just the thought or discussion of yawn ,no wonder if some of my readers catch up a yawn!he he. And as a dentist ,i have one small piece of advise to all my readers :Donot yawn too wide ,because who knows?you may tend to fix your jaws or have a dislocation of your jaw joint next to the ears(we call it as Temperomandibular joint/TMJ) .I am serious!      
           The question:why do we yawn? I went through a few articles and found out that' yawning' had lot of theories to explain its evolution.The one which i felt most suitable was that we yawn to incorporate a lot of oxygen within our body.When we are sleepy ,and we need to stay awake ,we need to get rid of the excess CO2 and stuff in as as much of o2 into our body.So a yawn can help us achieve this;that's because when we yawn ,our lungs expand and pushes our diaphragm down ,and we breathe in lots of oxygen ,and breathe out the excess co2 in our body.so how's the logic?sounds gud right? But then this theory was not approved by all the scientists and researchers and they felt  lot of possible reasons.Wickipedia narrates the possibility of some neurotransmitters like dopamine,serotonin,nitric oxide being activated as the prime cause of yawning.Also wickepedia states that the "imitation of yawning ";that is when" one person yawns ,the other too does"can be related to showing some sort of "empathetic behaviour".I can explain this :We humans have a tendency to always relate ourselves to another individuals situations and experiences ;same happens when a person "yawns",we would be trying to relate  and experience that person's bore dome and thus involuntarily we would also yawn!strange but true.Also it is also implicated that some "mirror neurons " present at the frontal cortex in brain may also be responsible for this imitation act.)

Reference:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yawn


NRIGirl said...

Quite interesting post Raji! But couldn't help yawning. Not because I was bored, I guess it is a psycological reflux...


~ NRIGirl

rama said...

I also read somewhere that it is the lack of oxygen flowing around us when we are among people, that we tend to yawn.

A said...


Interesting post !!!!!

Here is a joke for you (just a joke)

Your post on YAWN made me YAWN....contagious )))))

A said...


Before you get too upset about joke, I should say I enjoyed reading your post...I am kind of in serious (gloomy) mood for last few weeks but your post made me smile and cheered up though that may not be the intention. Just thinking about people yawning during a lecture...

SG said...

Thanks for the nice info and advice. I am not a doctor, so I won’t know. What I heard was we yawn when the pressure between our ears is different from that of the outside pressure.

Remembered this joke. Did you hear about the schoolboy who was so lazy he went around with his mouth open to save him the trouble yawning?

raji said...

@ nri gal .its ok this article was about yawn,so you were supposed to yawn!
@ "A"friend, no issues at all ..Iam a jovial person,i take jokes as "jokes "only..thanks .
@ SG,that was a funny thing ..i was lol.

raji said...

@ rama ,yes u heard it right ,lack of oxygen can lead to a yawn.
@ SG,could be that even the "pressure" factor affects a yawn ,remember the high altitiude incidents?when we go high above the sea level and we feel our ears are blocked ,a ywaning can help neutralise the pressure.

dr.antony said...

"The yawn has not received its due attention," argues Wolter Seuntjens, of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, who set out to provide an encyclopaedic overview of all available knowledge about yawning."In fact, we have really no idea what causes yawning and what purpose yawning serves or what mechanisms are responsible for yawning and even what the essential anatomical constituents of yawning are. In the age in which the human genome has been deciphered and space travel has become almost trite this verdict may sound like an affront," he writes.

As a physician I know that yawning can be physiological and also,pathological at times.Excessive yawning is seen in some neurological diseases like MS.

It seems we have to interpret every individual yawn as the ocassion arises !

raji said...

@ dr anthony .thanks for visiting my blog.yes as you told there has not been any specific coclusion on this part.even i heard abot the pathological causes behind yawning.i even read that opiod withdrawl can have excessive yawning as a symptom .Thanks for that information.

kochuthresiamma p .j said...

first time visitor to your blog.
very interesting.
the oxyen theory makes sense.
i remeber how, as a young, annoyed i used to get when my students mass ywned in the class. used to make them do sitting and standing exercise when it happened. that only made them yawn more frequently. guess they thought exercise was better than sitting thru my harangue:-)

in my part of the world we say that a sneezing bout is caused by someone talking about you.

raji said...

hi kochthresiamma.thanks for visiting.i know !it would be really annoying for u to see your students yawn ,but cant help it sometimes ,especially the peak afternoon nap time ones!exercising was nice .i too remember some of my teachers making students stand up when they were inattentive.