We don’t just yawn when we’re tired

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

yawn boy
Yawning is a great way to keep the brain cool.

Sometimes after a long day at school, our lungs take control of themselves and inhale a big ol’ yawn. There are many theories about why we take this involuntary gulp of air, and some of the leading ones say it’s because we’re tired, we saw someone else doing it, or because we’re bored. According to new research from the University of Vienna, however, we yawn because our brain is too hot!

To draw this conclusion, scientists studied pedestrians from Arizona and Austria during winter and summer. What they found was that yawning patterns didn’t depend on age, gender, weather season, or hours of sleep! Instead, the only reliable measure of change was temperature.

In fact, the temperature that best predicted when a person would take a deep breathe of air was when it was 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Any colder than that, and yawning could actually be harmful to the ol’ noggin. If it were any warmer outside, yawning would hardly do anything to cool down the brain.

So, perhaps that class lecture isn’t as boring as you think; the room is probably the right temperature for a deep, satisfying yawn!

Featured image courtesy of Sergio Vassio on Flickr. Image of yawning boy courtesy of Shermeee on Flickr