Anatomy of a yawn

What is a yawn?

Probably, you’ve never given that question a second thought-and many of you may be thinking who cares? I know that I’d never considered it until recently. But if you’ll remember, I’ve mentioned before that my brain works far faster than my hands, this is probably not one of those times.

I’d bet there are a half dozen of you reading this who have already yawned by the time you’ve gotten this far. That’s either from the power of suggestion…or something else. I’ll opt for the power of suggestion.

Yawning is one of those things that everyone has done at some point in time (yeah, yeah, there’ll likely be some wise guy who’ll claim to have never yawned in his entire life!). We all know what it is when we see it—sometimes we can even hear them.

I’ve always found it funny that yawns are contagious. Why is that? (Not why do I find it funny, but why are they contagious) Oh, I’m sure the most brilliant doctors would tell us they aren’t really contagious, but we all know they are because we’ve all “caught” it at some point in time. Just further proof that doctors don’t know everything.

What is it that makes them contagious? I’ve often heard the old saying “he stole my air,” and that’s what caused the yawn. If we steal someone’s air, is it accidental? Should we apologize?

I’d bet at least a dozen more of you have yawned by now.

There are different sorts of yawns, too.

There’s the stifled yawns, y’know, when the yawner never even opens his mouth, but his face contorts in all sorts of odd expressions, some of them look quite painful.
Are stifled yawns like stifled sneezes? You can blow your brains out your nose with a stifled sneeze—heck, moms across the country are telling their kids even now that they can bust their eardrums if they hold a sneeze in.

So what do you bust with a stifled yawn? I’ve never heard, but I bet it’s still your eardrums because mine can “pop” when I yawn really big.

Moms need to get on top of that one—kids need to be warned not to hold in their yawns or they’ll pop their eardrums.

Speaking of the big ones…why is it that some of the big yawns need a wind up—y’know, three or four short, quick inhales before the big exhale? Is the size of the yawn dependent upon the number of inhalations?

Notice, too, that with the big ones there is a pause just between the last inhale and the big exhale…what is that called?

I’d bet a couple dozen more of you have yawned by now AND caused someone else to yawn.

What about the spitting yawns? They’re rare, but you know what I’m talking about—that tiny flow of saliva that shoots out across the room (maybe onto your computer monitor) and it comes from those two little yawn-shooters just under your tongue. Some can have great distance to them. Maybe we should have yawn-spitting contests the next time we have watermelon seed spitting contests.

If you’ve made it this far, I’d nearly be willing to bet two things: 1)you’ve now given yawns their fair consideration; 2)you’ve yawned.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Anatomy of a yawn

  1. I’ve heard people say that “a yawn means you are trying to stay awake”, but I think that’s hogwash.

    I personally believe that every time you yawn your body puts out a bit more of those effervescent “sleepy juices”.

    I train my kids that if they’re having trouble falling asleep to force themselves to yawn, and keep yawning, and that they’ll be asleep in no time.

    It doesn’t always work, mainly I think because they don’t persevere at it. Yawning on purpose is hard. But more often than not … zzzzzz.

    Enough now, I’m getting sleepy!

  2. When you get this figured out please let me know. I am a chronic yawner and I am about to be tarred and feathered if I don’t figure out how to quit!

  3. yes, i did yawn while reading, but it’s 10 minutes till my bedtime so that could be why, lol

  4. About a week ago there was a story on the ‘net that said that even dogs ‘catch’ yawns from us! Try it – it’s funny. I’ll be playing with my dogs, then I’ll look straight at them and do a big, wide, fake yawn. They’ll do it too! (Heven’t tried it on the cats yet.)

  5. Pingback: Happy New Year 2016, or 2015 that was | Roland Mann's Ramblin' Weblog

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