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Why do we yawn?

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There are three opposing theories here.

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The first is the theory of physiology. We yawn to inhale more oxygen, or to expel excess carbon dioxide from our bodies. Anyone in the same room can yawn at the same time due to lack of fresh air, so yawning is contagious.

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The second is boredom. People yawn if they find something boring. But this statement doesn’t explain why we yawn when we’re bored. Unless it’s just a social symbol that suggests that third parties are dull.

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The last one is evolutionary theory. This theory holds that yawning is showing our teeth, indicating that we can also be threatening if we have to. Yawning used to be a way of demonstrating to others, but as human civilization has improved, the action has lost its original aggressiveness.

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Which of these three theories is more convincing? A doctor named Provence did some experiments on the subject of yawning and concluded that the first theory was incorrect. He sealed his subjects’ mouths so that they could not open their mouths to yawn, but could only breathe through their noses. His subjects said that this way of breathing did not satisfy them, although they could still inhale oxygen. Dr. Provence also gave subjects pure oxygen, only to find that doing so did not change the frequency of their yawning. This proves that yawning does not happen because the body needs oxygen.

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As for boredom, he found that when subjects watched a 30-minute beta video and a 30-minute rock video, the former yawned significantly more than the latter. But is it psychological (they find it boring) or physical (boredom makes them want to sleep)?

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Provence found that yawning occurs overwhelmingly an hour before bed and an hour after waking up. There is also a clear link between stretching and yawning. But now there is a new theory that yawning is a way of stimulating the flow of lymph in the muscles of the face. Lymph is a fluid that flows through the body’s lymphatic system to fight infections and viruses. Lymph needs bones to be active in order to move around the body because it does not circulate like blood. That’s why the first thing we like to do when we wake up in the morning is to stretch. Yawning is a way to help lymph flow through the face and neck.

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