We believe yawning is a natural process.

You’d be surprised to know that while yawning occasionally is quite normal, yawning too much is not.

When excessive yawning becomes a part of your daily routine, it could be indicating an underlying problem.

What happens when you yawn?

When you yawn, you open your mouth wide and breathe in air, filling your lungs. Your eardrums stretch and extra oxygen is carried to your brain and other parts of the body. A yawn can be both of long and short duration.

What does yawning do?

It increases our alertness by forcing oxygen and blood into our brain. That is why it happens when we are less alert or tired. We yawn when we go to bed at night, when we wake up or when we are bored as in these situations our brain becomes less stimulated and yawning increases alertness.

​The physiology of yawning

Your diaphragm, larynx, the thoracic muscles in your chest and the palate of your mouth are all involved in the process of yawning. The process also wets your lung’s air sacs.

​Reason behind yawning

You do not always yawn when you are tired. You may run 10 miles and be dead tired but may not yawn. Little supply of oxygen to the brain is also not the deciding factor. Many studies claim yawning is body’s effort to cool down your brain, while other say it mostly happens while one is bored. Majority of people require a different explanation for their yawning.

The reason behind excessive yawning

As we mentioned above, yawning is normal but excessive yawning can be due to certain medical conditions. Some of the common medical conditions that lead to excessive yawning are:

1. Vasovagal reaction

This happens when the part of the nervous system that is responsible for the regulation of blood pressure and heart rate is compromised. This happens when you are in a stressful situation. The drop in blood pressure and heart rate limits the blood from reaching the brain. In such a situation, the body automatically tries to up its oxygen intake by yawning.

2. Medications

Medications that make you sleepy can lead to excessive yawning. These medications may include antidepressants, antihistamines and some serotonin uptake inhibitors.

3. ​Liver disease

The last stage of liver disease can also cause excessive yawning. Fatigue experienced at this time is responsible for the same.

​4. Multiple sclerosis

Studies show people who are suffering from this condition have a tendency to yawn excessively. People with MS have thermoregulatory dysfunction where they are unable to control their body temperature. Yawning tends to cool down their body temperature.

5. Sleeping disorders

Insomnia or sleep apnea, the most common sleep disorders can lead to excessive tiredness and thus yawning.

6. Brain dysfunction

Studies say that brain tumour may lead to excessive yawning and can be linked to the lesions in the brain stem. Yawning can also be a result of compression of the pituitary gland.

7. ​Hypoglycaemia

Excessive yawning can be the primary signal of hypoglycaemia in diabetics. Hypoglycaemia occurs when blood glucose level falls below 72mg/dL.