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  • Rowan Prescott Hedley

Why Do We Yawn When We Can't Get To Sleep?

Is it the cruellest function of our collective Homo sapien programming to be reminded of that which we cannot achieve? Sleep.

Photo by Charles

Right. So, it's 2-3 hours after the time you want to be falling asleep. Which for me is at least 1 hour after I've actually gone to bed, I like to faff, I'm working on it.

You lie in your pit, or your meticulously placed eden of pillows, cushions, and peripheries. You're straining for slumber. This is probably making things harder. Just relax, surely.

No, not so much. As soon as you *try* to relax, then the yawning begins.

It usually goes something like this...

Me: Oh, gosh, I'm so tired, why can't I get to sleep? I have important things to do early tomorrow. Pfft.

Body: Goodness me I'm so awake, shall we fidget? No, let's think. No! Let's overthink! Oh, yay this is so much fun!

Me: Body, really, can you chill, I just need to sleep now, we can do stuff tomorrow. We need to do stuff tomorrow, quite a lot of stuff!

Body: What? I can't hear you! It's too loud over here where the blood is rushing, heart is pumping and brain is whirring. You should join in. We're having a party!

Me: Body really I need you to... Fine, ok, I'll just relax into it. You know, slow down the breathing and the heart pumping. That should slow down the blood flow as well. Then we just have to consider the brain. What were those meditation methods I learned?

Body: Woah now, what is this?

Me: Oh it's lovely over here, we're finding zen. You should join.

Body: No I don't like this, this shift is too quick, I'd nearly finished pre's and was ready to go out out. This is very much heading in in.

Me: Ohm

Body: Ok, try this on for size. The Vengabus is coming Rowan, better just hop on board.

*Entire being yawns*

Me: Oh god! What was that?

*Yawns again*

Me: No this isn't nice. I know I'm tired, you don't need to tell me I'm tired.

*Yawns again*

Me: I think this is actually waking me up. No! I was zen-ing!

*Yawns again*

Me: Body, stop it! Please, this seems cruel and calculated.

Body: Sorry what? Don't talk whilst you're yawning. It's rude.

Me: Body!

Body: Oh look there you are. Yes, Can I help you?

Me: Please stop the yawning.

Body: Are you awake?

Me: Yes, evidently.

Body: Then you need to get to sleep. You've been awake a lot longer than you intended, Rowan. Don't you have important things to do in the morning?

Me: What?


Me: Are you waking me up with the power of thought argument?

Body: Ha! That worked for longer than I expected it to!

Me: ....

Body: What, not a fan?

Me: ....

Body: The Vengabus is coming! And every body's...

Me: Body!

Body: *Drink in hand, straw in mouth* Mhm?

Me: .... Oh fine, I'm too tired for this. You do what you like.

Body: Haha! Yes! New York to San Francisco, the intercity...


Body: Hang on, where are you going?

Me: *finally beginning to nod off*

Body: No, you were supposed to carry on. The argument was supposed to wake you up!

Me: .... Just tired me out I suppose...

Body: No, come on. Come back. We're having a lovely time. I can't carry on with out you!

Me: .... Hm?

Body: No please! Rowan! I was having a great time!

Me: .... Hm....

Body: Oh, balls.

*Entire being sleeps*

Body: ....

Me: ....

Body: Alright, fidgety sleep here we come. Hop on board Rowan!


Me: See Body, that wasn't so hard, we got to sleep eventually.... Oh god, I'm exhausted! And I ache! What did you do?!

Body: .... Hm? Oh, not much.... Just an INTERCITY DISCO, BABE, AND YOU WERE ON BOARD!!

Me: .... You absolute codwomble.

So there you have it. We yawn when we can't get to sleep because our bodies are secretly sentient and out to get us. Why else would we hiccough when "WE ARE NOT CHOKING, BODY!"

Maybe there are less acrimonious relationships between bodies and beings, but mine is certainly a quarrelsome soul.

Sleep well, all.



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