Yawning once in a while is perfectly normal. However, there may be something wrong if it happens all the time or in a close series — it can be anything from a sleep disorder to a problem concerning your heart!
Before we discuss some of the probable reasons why you yawn a lot, let us first quickly get to know why we involuntarily open our mouths and take a large gulp of air.
According to experts, yawning is the body’s way of increasing oxygen levels in the blood. In other words, it happens when the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream is less than optimal. It’s exactly for such reason why you tend to yawn successively when you feel like going to bed — when you are sleepy, your respiratory rate slightly decreases, and this causes the blood’s oxygen levels to drop to some extent.
However, there are some scientists that say that yawning is actually a social signal whose true meaning is yet to be figured out. A proof to this is the fact that yawning is evidently infectious — one person in a room yawns and you can expect many others to follow suit!
There is a recently-established theory that yawning happens in order to cool the brain. Such was speculated when participants yawned a lot when warm compresses were placed on their heads. Scientists involved with the experiment theorized that the brain wanted to cool itself by means of yawning in order to remain alert.
Now that you know some of the purported reasons why yawning takes place, it’s time for us to tackle some of the probable causes of yawning that tends to strike a lot:
- Lack of sleep. Did you party all night long? Then don’t be surprised why you are yawning excessively the following day. It’s just your body screaming for some much-needed shuteye. But it’s not just yawning too much that you should be worried about when you deprive yourself of sleep. Your work performance can be jeopardized, as well as your own safety and that of others around you!
- A sleep disorder. You know that you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night but you are waking up the next day feeling tired, as evidenced by sleepiness and excessive yawning. There is a possibility that you have a sleep disorder that is keeping you from getting deep and quality sleep, such as snoring and sleep apnea. In order identify the root cause and have it treated as well, see a sleep specialist right away.
- Certain drugs. If one of the side effects of a drug is drowsiness, then you can expect for yourself to yawn a lot after taking it. Pain medications and antihistamines are notorious for making you feel sleepy, thus leaving you involuntarily gasping for air in succession. There are also a bunch of psychiatric drugs that can also trigger excessive yawning, such as antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs.
- Dehydration. Are you aware that something as simple as not drinking enough fluids everyday can leave you yawning all the time? When you are dehydrated, your blood volume drops. We all know that the blood is the one that carries oxygen molecules to the various tissues and organs of the body, including the brain. With your blood volume low, there is not enough oxygen delivered to your brain, leaving you yawning.
- Poor blood circulation. Just about anything that keeps your brain from getting enough oxygen can make you yawn a lot. For instance, a heart problem can result in reduced flow of oxygen-carrying blood to the brain. There are instances wherein chronic venous insufficiency is the culprit. CVI for short, it is characterized by the poor functioning of the walls of the blood vessels and/or the valves in them.
There are a few other potential medical conditions behind why you yawn more than normal. Especially if your excessive yawning is accompanied by other signs and symptoms, make sure that you see a doctor.