Want to know what one of the most contagious human activities is?
Want to know what one of the most contagious human activities is? Don’t be surprised. It’s yawning. That’s right—opening your mouth so wide it feels like your jaw might drop off as you breathe in all the air around you—that six second (on the average) act of yours will lead 55% of the people who watched you yawn do it themselves within five minutes! In fact, you don’t even have to see someone do it. The blind will yawn simply from hearing an audio tape of someone else yawning. In fact, you don’t even need to hear a yawn. Just reading the word can cause you to yawn (as I happen to be doing right now—are you?).
Do we yawn because we’re tired? Nobody knows for sure, though it appears that we yawn the most frequently an hour before going to bed and the hour after waking up from sleep. Do we yawn because we’re bored? Who knows? Maybe it’s just that our bodies need more oxygen. After all Olympic athletes often yawn just before their competition. But one of the leading experts in yawning, Dr. Robert Provine, a psychologist at the University of Maryland (Baltimore County), has determined that giving people more oxygen does not decrease yawning (nor does decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide). It turns out that the most significant fact about yawning is that nobody knows for certain why we do it.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say we yawn because we’re tired. According to a study released by the National Sleep Foundation last month “nearly 50 million Americans chronically suffer from sleep problems and disorders that affect their careers, their personal relationships and safety on the roads” (AFP March 3, 2008). In response to our national need, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued the following list on how to enjoy a good night’s sleep: follow a consistent bedtime routine; establish a relaxing setting at bedtime; get a full night’s sleep every night; avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant prior to bedtime; do not bring your worries to bed with you; do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal before bedtime either; avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime; make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool; get up the same time every morning (April 1, 2008 @ www.medicalnewstoday.com).
There’s one more tip the AASM neglected to mention. And this one is a divine remedy that can become the greatest cure for our deepest fatigue. As we share “God’s Party: Facebook” today, join me in discovering the secret to the second greatest gift ever given to the human race—which, of course, is nothing to yawn about.