Why do we yawn?


WebMD recently had a cool little article about yawning.  All humans (and most animals) do it, but why?  Does it serve some physiologic purpose (like cooling off our brains or increasing our oxygen levels when they get too low) or a social one (like sending some type of important communication signal through a pack, or herd or math class)?  Why is yawning contagious?  Why do you feel like yawning right now just because you’re reading the word ‘yawn’?  Who knows? 

The most obvious answer is that we yawn because we’re tired.  This is pretty much standard operating procedure for most college, grad and professional students – not enough sleep, too much stress, no regular schedules, etc.  If you’re feeling more tired than usual, come in and see us.  Just please, stop saying yawn…

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University