‘The first clue that yawning serves a much greater purpose? We do it involuntarily like breathing, and it starts even before we are born (as early as 11 weeks after conception).’
– Dr. Mercola.
To open the mouth and then take a deep breath usually as an involuntary reaction to fatigue or boredom is termed as yawning.
In scientific terms, a yawn is characterized by an inhalation of air that stretches the eardrums, as derived from the article ‘Why do we yawn? published in Best Health Website.
The health benefits of yawning are enormous, but have always gone unnoticed or completely ignored.
Yawning heightens mental efficiency. It has been proven beyond doubts that yawning “stimulates the neural area of the brain that plays a major role in being more conscious and self-reflective, and that also aids in relaxation, alertness, and maintaining a good memory.” Best Health: Why do we yawn?
In their publication ‘How God Changes Your Brain‘ Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman state that “Yawning will relax you and bring you into a state of alertness faster than any other meditation technique I know of.”
Best Health further adds that, “Any time you breath deeply, your brain waves slow down and your muscles get the message to relax.”
Yawning has been found to be the brain coolant. Research has indicated that it helps cool down the brain’s overactive nature as it strives to regulate temperature and metabolic breakdown. Research conducted by Princeton and the University of Arizona proved that yawning actually acts as a natural regulator of temperature when our heads begin to get too hot.
“Brains are like computers… they operate most efficiently when cool, and physical adaptations have evolved to allow maximum cooling of the brain.” Andrew C. Gallup, PhD. postdoctoral research associate at the Princeton University in an interview with the Discovery News.
To the contrary to the general beliefs, yawning is said to put off sleep! From the article ‘Why do we yawn’ in Best Health, it’s written, (yawning) “helps contract the facial muscles, which forces blood through cerebral blood vessels to the brain… and this, scientists say, may function to increase alertness. Thus, yawning may reduce sleepiness as it reflects a mechanism that maintains attention.”
However minimal, yawning does stretch your muscles. It provides stretching exercises to the face by stretching the facial muscles; relaxes the body and increases oxygen intake through stretching of the thoracic (chest) muscles, and stretches the eardrums for better listening.
Further, yawning helps in the lubrication of the eyes. It is said that whenever you yawn, the tear gland found next to the eyes are given a squeeze, producing tears that cleanse the eyeball giving clearer vision.
Of much importance, too, yawning acts as the ‘reset’ button to humans. Patt Lind-Kyle — an author, therapist, speaker, trainer and consultant — writes in his article ‘Why do we yawn?’ published in Best Health, that, “When you yawn, you help regulate your body’s circadian rhythms, or the roughly 24-hour cycle of human behaviour and biological activity. Yawning does really help you reset your internal clock. In scientific, it arouses your neuromuscular wiring and creates a harmonious progression in the brain stem.”
Last but not least, yawning can help boost your mood. It can ultimately lead to happiness. Whenever a yawn goes off, dopamine level in the body rises. This in turn activates oxytocin (also referred to as the pleasure chemicals) which finally leads to feelings of pleasure, euphoria and happiness.
However, just like too much of something is always dangerous, too much yawning could be a medical signal for heart problems or fatigue-associated health conditions.
Excessive yawning can be caused by brain tumor, epilepsy and other problems like heart attack. It can also signify the occurrence of an underlying neurological disorder for example stroke, multiple sclerosis, migraine and drug reactions.
Yawning is contagious. It triggers the mirror neurons that prompts one of to immediately reflect your behaviour or emotional state!
Anyway… ‘Yawn away… and don’t feel self conscious about it….Your body knows what it needs to function at its best… so relax and let it work.’
– Patt Lind-Kyle.
It’s one of the best things you can do to your brain.’
– Andrew Newburg.
Director, Pennsylvania Center for Spirituality and the Mind.