A Ugandan friend named John Bosco (JB) recently asked if I was hungry.  I found this a little strange, particularly considering that we had just eaten.  Then I found out the reason for his enquiry – I had yawned!  I thought this was unusual until I visited neighbouring Rwanda a few days later.  Again I was spotted yawning and was offered food!

Whereas it is a sign of tiredness for us in the UK, yawning is apparently evidence of hunger in this part of the world.  I always thought it was an automatic act, but then it got me thinking – is it actually a learned response?  In other words, do we pick up at a young age that we yawn when we are tired, or in the case of Ugandans, hungry?  I don’t believe so as young babies often yawn…

Anyway, I said to JB that if Ugandans yawn when they are hungry, what do they do when they are tired?  His answer was brief, and in hindsight obvious.  “We sleep.”


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