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01 October 2023

Video: Can you watch this without yawning?

By Amal Al Jabry

For many, watching someone yawn and then not do it yourself, can be quite hard to resist.

Omar AM, locally based singer said: "I don’t need to watch a yawning video to test myself, for me even thinking about yawning is enough to make me yawn! I try hard not to, but it still happens."

And then there are those who start yawning even by seeing pictures or reading an article about yawning.

"There are many hypotheses as to why we yawn, but not much in the way of solid consensus," said Dr Melanie C. Schlatter, PhD.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7, the Consultant Health Psychologist explained that various researches connects yawning to different circumstances.

One of them is the need to stretch the tongue, throat or jaw muscles, while another reason is also an increased need for oxygen or food.

"People have also been known to yawn at times of high stress , for example athletes before a race, or a prior to a public presentation, as have people on certain forms of antidepressants," explained Dr Melanie.

She added: "Most of the time, we observe people yawning because they are bored, tired, or because they have just woken up or need to go to sleep, or because we have seen someone else yawn."

Indeed, many tend to yawn after someone else does it, and this is because of a worldwide phenomenon called 'contagious yawning.'

As ongoing research discusses various theories, scientists still can't explain how unprompted yawning lingers throughout life.

It’s a fact that almost all vertebrates yawn, including snakes and lizards.

However, contagious yawning is a different case  - it’s mainly humans, chimpanzees and, at times, dogs who are affected.
Studies have shown that contagious yawning is a mutual experience that encourages social connection, similar to contagious laughter and contagious crying.

What’s more, is that yawning could even help doctors in diagnosing developmental disorders.

As Dr Melanie explained, most of the time, we observe people yawning  because we have seen someone else yawn - but "exceptions to this for the most part include infants, and those with autism or schizophrenia."

That’s because as studies suggest, yawning when others yawn is a sign of empathy and a form of social bonding - It’s a deeply rooted behavior that children usually develop around the age of four.

However, autistic children don’t usually catch the yawns, and in extreme cases, they never do.

Till date, the studies and research continues to offer insight into why contagious yawning is such a powerful force.

Dr Melanie quipped: "The basic premise is that there could be several reasons for yawning; but clearly we still do not know what they are!"

And as we ponder the many reasons of this simple yet complicated act, here is another video to test your strength (or weakness) to some more contagious yawning for you to feast your eyes upon, and see how long you last this time.