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What Should I Know About Excessive Yawning?

By Nychole Price
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Excessive yawning is caused by a decrease of oxygen levels in the blood. It is often associated with boredom or a lack of sleep or fresh air. Yawning is considered excessive when it happens more than one time per minute. Although it is usually attributed to being sleepy or bored, it can also be caused by a medical condition such as epilepsy or a tumor.

When a person yawns, he opens his jaws wide and inhales deeply. This causes great pressure in the lungs. Yawning is believed to be a protective reflex that helps to maintain proper lung inflation and prevent collapsed alveoli.

Medical causes of excessive yawning include epilepsy, a brain tumor, encephalitis, multiple sclerosis and progressive supra nuclear palsy. These medical conditions cause a vasovagal reaction. During a vasovagal reaction, the vagus nerve increases in activity, causing the heart rate and blood pressure to drop. This results in a person yawning.

Excessive yawning, caused by the above medical conditions, is usually associated with the occurrence of other symptoms. These include, but aren't limited to, nausea, dizziness, heart palpitation and fainting. If excessive yawning occurs with these symptoms, seek the advice of a medical professional.

Yawning associated with sleepiness, boredom and lack of oxygen can become a major annoyance. When a person yawns at the wrong time, it can be deemed rude or offensive. Luckily, a yawn can be temporarily suppressed.

Yawns can be caused by boredom. When watching an uninteresting performance, movie, or recital a person may have a bout of excessive yawning. To suppress the yawns, he can hold his mouth closed tightly and clench his jaws. When the yawn comes on he must keep the pressure in the rear of his jaws and swallow the yawn.

Excessive yawning, caused by sleepiness, can be counteracted by drinking lots of water. Dehydration is a big cause of fatigue. When a person drinks a lot of water, the yawning will cease. Every time the urge to yawn is strong, drink a big gulp of water and the yawn will pass.

If a person has been indoors all day, such as working in an office, she may start yawning excessively. This is caused by a lack of oxygen. It can be suppressed by going outside for a brief, but quick, walk. This will increase the oxygen flow to the brain and heart. When she returns indoors, the urge to yawn should have passed.

Yawning happens to everyone, even at the most embarrassing times. If an unexpected yawn should occur at an offensive time, one should cover his mouth. When the yawn is finished, he should apologize to anyone who appears offended and go on with his business.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon965842 — On Aug 14, 2014

The "lack of oxygen" hypothesis has been long cast aside as the explanation for yawning.

Yawning fits as a vaso-vagal response can signal a serious problem that should be checked. Heart problems and epilepsy are just two.

Anyone who has fits of yawning that are severe enough to make holding a conversation difficult should speak to their doctor. If these episodes are accompanied or followed by dizziness, fainting, headache, a vaso-vagal response is a likely cause. Dysautonomia should be considered. If yawning frequently is a problem daily, a sleep study may be ordered to rule out disorders such as sleep apnea.

By anon963200 — On Jul 28, 2014

But does excessive yawning due to medical problems also lead to loud yawning? I have a colleague who yawns excessively throughout the day and I do believe it's because of health related issues. But, she also yawns quite loudly and obnoxiously too. Is the loudness also part of medical reasons or can that be prevented?

By anon937111 — On Mar 04, 2014

What happens if we yawn more if we are dizzy?

By anon352431 — On Oct 22, 2013

I yawn between 3 and 5 p.m. every day, and feel dizzy, and weak all at the same time. I yawn excessively. If I'm in a car, I will get even more dizzy and headachy. Is it something due to low blood sugar? I hope?

By anon350521 — On Oct 05, 2013

I yawn a lot. I get a normal amount of sleep. Even when I'm doing something I'm interested in, I'm yawning. I yawned so hard a couple days ago that my neck/trachea is bruised or sore, so I thought I should look it up. If I could go to the doctor, I would. Usually the only thing to keep me from yawning is chewing gum.

By anon337061 — On Jun 02, 2013

Yawning can be related to iron deficiency, anxiety, and many other conditions. Good luck.

By anon313013 — On Jan 10, 2013

My husband always complains about my yawning. I must yawn 100-200 times a day. I get seven to nine hours of sleep a night, and usually don't drink caffeine, but I do drink plenty of water. It doesn't matter where I am: work, home, inside/outside. I even yawn while I run. If anything else works to stop, please post! Thank you.

By anon308493 — On Dec 11, 2012

I yawn over 200 times a day and it really annoys me.

I will try long walks and drinking lots of water and see if this helps.

By sunshined — On Nov 14, 2012

I have a cousin who has epilepsy and has periods of excessive yawning. I always thought it had something to do with the medication she was taking, but I think it is a symptom of the disease and has nothing to do with her medication.

By SarahSon — On Nov 13, 2012

I always start yawning when I am tired. I have never thought of this as excessive yawning but just thought I needed to get more sleep. I am going to try drinking lots of water and see if that helps. I know I don't drink enough water anyway and maybe that will keep me from yawning so much in the evenings.

Once a month I have to attend a meeting for our motorcycle group and sometimes I find myself yawning through the whole meeting. I hope people don't think this is being rude, but I have a hard time stopping the yawns.

I have found that getting outside in fresh air does wake me up and I feel a lot better. I have to do this if I am traveling long distances in the car. When I find myself yawning and my eyes getting droopy, I know I need to pull over and get some fresh air.

By bagley79 — On Nov 13, 2012

I don't have to be tired or bored to start yawning, all I have to do is see someone else do it. When I am in a situation where someone is speaking in front of an audience like church or a meeting, I really try to stifle my yawns.

If I have to yawn, I cover my mouth so it isn't so obvious. I know what it's like to speak in public and don't want the speaker to think that I am bored and uninterested in what they are saying.

By andee — On Nov 12, 2012

I wonder how many other people started yawning while they read this article. Once I started reading and saw the image of a man yawning, I immediately started yawning. I have heard that yawning is contagious and once you see someone else yawning, it is hard to stop doing it yourself.

By anon300740 — On Oct 31, 2012

I yawned 15 times while reading this too! And twenty times while reading the comments! I wonder why that happened.

By anon275424 — On Jun 18, 2012

I've been working on a night shift for almost a year now, and my sleeping pattern is messed up. Sometimes I tend to complete like six to eight hours of sleep in a day, but usually I only manage three to four hours of day sleep.

I don't know if that's the main reason why I always yawn so much when I'm at work. What's intriguing is that I tend to yawn a lot only at work and nowhere else I can think of.

By anon177454 — On May 18, 2011

I yawned about 15 times reading this. I try to subdue my yawns. I know it is annoying. This has been going on for the last two or three months. I'm going to have to see the doc.

By anon169904 — On Apr 23, 2011

I yawn all the time- I don't know why. I have halitosis too, so it's not the most pleasant experience for anyone in the vicinity. I guess I should go see my doctor about it.

By anon152902 — On Feb 15, 2011

My co-worker open mouth yawns at work and it is highly annoying. Much like a hippo yawning all the time and grunting. Do people not have manners?

By oasis11 — On Aug 10, 2010

Mutsy-It also happens to me too, but excessive yawning causes can also be due to anxiety. The best thing to do is to contact your doctor to make sure it is not something serious.If the yawning, for example is followed by shortness of breath, it could be something that needs medical attention.

By mutsy — On Aug 10, 2010

I think what causes excessive yawning is lack of sleep. When I don't sleep well, I tend to yawn a lot the next day.

My eyes get watery and I may even tear up when I yawn too much. I do try to drink coffee or Diet Coke that has caffeine in it, but what I usually need is just some rest.

What I tried to do when I can't sleep and I'm yawning, is take deep breaths. This makes me a little bit more alert and brings more oxygen to my brain which they say is lowered as a result of the yawning.

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