Question: Why do we yawn?

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  1. @louiepop: Yawning occurs most often immediately before and after sleep and is commonly linked with tiredness, stress, overwork, lack of stimulation and boredom, though recent studies show it may be linked to the cooling of the brain. In humans, yawning is often triggered by others yawning (e.g., seeing a person yawning, talking to someone on the phone who is yawning).

    This “infectious” yawning has also been observed in chimpanzees and dogs and is suggested to be an indication of empathy (the ability to recognise emotions in another being).

    Approximately 20 body-based (physiological) reasons for yawning have been proposed by scientists, but the answer is, we don’t know. There’s no conclusive evidence to answer your question with.

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  2. Scientists aren’t really sure about what physiological purpose yawning has, but I definitely believe the empathy part of it! When I see someone yawn that I feel a lot of empathy for (like my infant daughter), I catch myself yawning almost immediately! But random strangers yawning doesn’t seem to have the same effect on me.


  3. One of the many suggestions is that it can be triggered by carbon dioxide levels in the blood, and that the deep breath is an attempt to get more oxygen. Perhaps, form an evolution view point, if one person feels that need, there might have been an advantage for others to take a deep breath also. That would be enough to programme us to be copy-cat yawners.


  4. hey louiepop,

    In addition to all the reasons listed already. I sometimes yawn when I’m nervous. I don’t understand why, but it look a little strange 🙂