A hot brain causes yawning?

A hot brain causes yawning?

People generally associate a yawn with being tired, but according to new research your yawn may be due to the temperature of your brain.

Researchers, from the University of Vienna, believe that the yawn effect is in result of the brain trying to cool itself. The study, published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, analyzed 120 people in cold and warm seasons in Vienna, Austria and Arizona, to see how their yawning was effected by the temperature of the weather and people yawning around them.

The research found that weather temperature was in fact a key influencer in the study, with their results showing that in warmer temps, people yawned less often even when seeing others yawn – the contagious factor.

Several other studies have taken a look at if yawning is really contagious and have found that in more than one case when people are shown videos of others yawning, they begin to yawn as well.

But researchers believe that thermoregulation is at work, where the body is using yawning as a way to regulate body temperature and to keep it in a certain range of temperature.

One author said in a statement to the Times of India, “that yawning functions to cool the brain, yawning is not functional when ambient temperatures are as hot as the body, and may not be necessary or may even have harmful consequences when it is freezing outside.”

Researchers say there is more research to be done, but hope the results can help people who have difficulty regulating body temperature.

So, if you’re feeling warm, try to catch a yawn and you might just cool down.

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  1. Kristen Miele May 9, 2014 at 11:27 am · Reply

    I yawn during exercise sometimes and have always wondered why! Maybe this is the reason?

  2. I yawned twice while reading this — could be power of suggestion, could be because I only got about 5 1/2 hours of sleep.

  3. cordelia_79720 May 16, 2014 at 12:09 am · Reply

    I yawn when my dogs look at me and yawn…and conversely, they yawn when seeing me yawn…. 🙂 Actually, earlier research indicated that yawning was about a lack of oxygen/oxygen imbalance in lungs/blood/brain …which would explain Kristen Miele’s statement that she ‘yawns when exercising’… since the muscles are draining oxygen from the bloodstream …

    That being said…perhaps the heat/cold effect the oxygen uptake in the bloodstream …

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.