What Causes Excessive Yawning?

I was consulting one of my client and taking her diet history when her husband who accompanied her yawned. I was bit disturbed to see him yawning 4 times within 2 minutes. Finally, I offered him water & asked him if his sleep is not sound. It was embarrassing moment for him as he was an energetic young man who is a regular marathon runner. On my way home even I started yawning. It was around 12 pm in afternoon, I realised that even I yawn, it is a very natural response of body. I was dehydrated but had sound sleep previous night. I also remembered one of my maternal Aunt who always yawned too much in her casual talks & I used to make fun of her. As I am nutritionist it was very important for me to learn about excessive yawning its causes & remedies.

Yawning is a mostly an involuntary process of opening the mouth and breathing in deeply, filling the lungs with air. It is a very natural response to being tired. In fact, yawning is usually triggered by sleepiness or fatigue. Some yawns are short, and some last for several seconds before an open-mouthed exhale. Watery eyes, stretching, or audible sighs may accompany yawning.

Researchers aren’t exactly sure why yawning occurs, but common triggers include fatigue and boredom. Yawns may also occur when you talk about yawning or see or hear someone else yawn. It is believed that contagious yawning may have something to do with social communication. In addition, yawning may help cool the temperature of the brain.

Excessive yawning is that which occurs more than once per minute. Although excessive yawning is usually attributed to being sleepy or bored, it may be a symptom of an underlying medical problem.

Certain conditions can cause a vasovagal reaction, which results in excessive yawning. During a vasovagal reaction, there is increased activity in the vagus nerve. This nerve runs from the brain down to the throat and into the abdomen. When the vagus nerve becomes more active, heart rate and blood pressure drop significantly. This reaction can indicate anything from a sleep disorder to a serious heart condition.

Talk to your doctor if you’ve noticed a sudden increase in your yawning, especially if you’ve been yawning frequently for no apparent reason. Only your doctor can determine whether or not the excessive yawning is occurring as a result of a medical problem.

Causes of Excessive Yawning

The exact cause of excessive yawning isn’t known. However, it may occur as a result of:

  • drowsiness, tiredness, or fatigue

  • sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy

  • side effects of medications that are used to treat depression or anxiety

  • bleeding in or around the heart

  • Low blood pressure

Although less common, excessive yawning could also indicate:

  • a brain tumor

  • heart attack

  • epilepsy

  • multiple sclerosis

  • liver failure

  • body’s inability to control its temperature

Diagnosing Excessive Yawning

To identify the cause of excessive yawning, your doctor may first ask you about your sleep habits. They will want to make sure that you are getting adequate restful sleep. This can help them determine whether your excessive yawning is occurring as a result of being fatigued or having a sleep disorder.

After ruling out sleep issues, your doctor will perform diagnostic tests to find another possible cause for excessive yawning. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is one of the tests that may be used. An EEG measures the electrical activity in the brain. It can help your doctor diagnose epilepsy and other conditions affecting the brain. Your doctor may also order an MRI scan. This test uses powerful magnets and radio waves to produce detailed images of the body, which can help doctors visualize and assess bodily structures. These pictures are often used to diagnose spinal cord and brain disorders, such as tumors and multiple sclerosis. An MRI scan is also beneficial for evaluating the function of the heart and detecting heart problems.

Treating Excessive Yawning

If medications are causing excessive yawning, your doctor may recommend a lower dosage. Make sure to discuss this with your doctor before making any changes to your medications. You should never stop taking medications without approval from your doctor.

If excessive yawning is occurring as a result of a sleep disorder, your doctor may recommend sleep-aid medications or techniques for getting more restful sleep. Tips from Pune based expert nutritionist to improve sleep includes as below:

  1. Deep breathing before sleep

  2. Drink warm Milk at bedtime (milk contains tryptophan which can help in stimulating sleep hormone)

  3. Warm Turmeric water can improve sleep (turmeric is an anti-inflammatory herb)

If excessive yawning is a symptom of a serious medical condition, such as epilepsy or liver failure, then the underlying problem must be treated immediately.

Yawning is a good thing. It is a way we can keep the brain awake and alert. But, there are definitely times when an unexpected yawn can be embarrassing. It gives the impression that you're less-than enthused, and that’s definitely not something you want while you're in the middle of a deep conversation, or an important board meeting.

Here are a few tips to help keep you from yawning at those inopportune moments:

  • Take a few deep breaths through your nose and exhale through your mouth.

  • Drink a cool beverage/ Cool water. During those important moments, keep a cool beverage handy. If you feel the need to yawn, take a sip of ice water.

  • Snack on cool foods, such as refrigerated watermelon or cucumber, whenever you want to avoid yawning.

  • Keep your environment cool. Because one reason we yawn is when the brain's temperature is too warm, avoid sitting in a hot environment.

  • Use a cool compress. If you really want to make sure you don't yawn during that important meeting, press a cool compress against your head and hold it there for a minute or two before heading into the boardroom. This should keep you cool enough to ward off the yawns until you get back to your desk.

  • As this is very common & not noticed symptom, we tend to ignore Yawning. If you have Excessive yawning problem, it’s time to start working on diet lifestyle modifications. Speak to our Pune based Expert Nutritionist & psychologist for further assistance.

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By :

Tripti Khanna ( Know More)

Founder & Nutritionist



NIBM -Pune

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