A simple slice of science – Why do we yawn?

This week’s question comes from seven year old Emily, who, I hear is always asking her mum questions… sometimes her mum even writes about it here.

Emily wants to know….

Why do we yawn?


Dr. Simple will try to stop yawning long enough to answer the question…. because yawning is contagious! See how many times you yawn while reading this and leave us a note in the comments below!



So, go on, tell us how many times did you yawn?


Further reading/references:

The surprising science of yawning

Different yawn, different functions?

In group/out group bias in contagious yawning

Individual Variation in Contagious Yawning Susceptibility Is Highly Stable and Largely Unexplained by Empathy or Other Known Factors.



Science blogger and writer; Owner of Dr. How's Science Wows; Mother of three junior scientists who have taught me that to be a great scientist you need to look at life through the eyes of a child!

6 thoughts on “A simple slice of science – Why do we yawn?

  • July 27, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Just thinking about yawning sets me off lol

    • July 27, 2014 at 8:23 am

      I’m with you on that one Sara *yawn*

  • July 26, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    5 times, I’m afraid. Once at the tweet, which made me click, then once at each mention of how contagious (there’s another one!) it can be. I could be empathetic, imaginative, or simply tired 🙂 I’m not sure which is more fascinating, that the thought of it can be as contagious as the sight and sound, or that we don’t know why.

    • July 26, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      I know I was the same…. yawned the entire day while I was preping this post 🙂 Maybe it is too hard a subject to research as no one can stop yawning long enough to collect the data 😉

  • July 24, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Love it! Thanks so much for answering Emily’s question.

    • July 24, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      My pleasure… it was a great question from (obviously) a great young mind 😉 Thanks Emily

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