Mark Waldman on Great Benefits of Yawning


M Waldman

Best of all, yawning appears to be the simplest, quickest, and most effective way to lower neurological anxiety in 60 seconds or less. And in these worrisome times I strongly recommend that any time you feel yourself stressed or tired, you yawn. Try doing 3 mindful yawns – slowly, giving full attention to subtle shifts and changes in your mental state and mood. Do it at least once an hour, and I’m willing to bet that you’ll be amazed at how better you feel by the end of the day. SHARE WITH ME YOUR YAWNING EXPERIENCE AND READ ON.

Research Evidence

In a recent study, brain researchers presented evidence showing that bigger brained animals yawn more. Their yawning may be essential for enhancing cognitive functions. They conclude by saying:

“Previous research suggests that yawning is an adaptation to enhance intracranial circulation and brain cooling [11–13]. This in turn could promote cortical arousal and state change [7–9]. The neural structures necessary for yawning appear to be located within the brainstem [22]. Based on these results, we hypothesize that the neurophysiological consequences of yawning affect the brain more globally. Longer yawns may be necessary to more effectively modulate cortical arousal for animals with larger and more complex brains. Furthermore, we predict that, the greater within-taxon variance in yawn duration observed for large-brained mammals may be related to increased cognitive capacities, the more variable behavioural repertories.”

Gallup, the lead researcher who developed the thermoregulatory theory of yawning (it increases cerebral blood flow to cool down excessive neural activity, especially in the Default Mode Network), made this comment about their study:

“Longer and/or [more] powerful yawns should provide greater physiological effects.”

Gallup is currently running tests on people to see if the number of seconds your own yawns last might allow your brain to be larger and more cognitively efficient.

NEUROTIP: Make your yawns last for at least 5 seconds or longer, and especially when you need to enhance your focus and attention. Use the “fake it until you make it” rule. You will soon be able to yawn for 15 seconds, like me. You will feel Less stress, more alertness, and less worrisome thoughts and anxiety. Isn’t that cool (literally!)?


Yawn duration predicts brain weight and cortical neuron number in mammals. Gallup AC, Church AM, Pelegrino AJ. Biol Lett. 2016 Oct;12(10)