Sleep Care

Chronic Yawning

The medical term for the act of yawning and stretching at the same time, “pandiculation.” What causes chronic yawning? What effects does yawning have on our body? There are many different triggers that will start the act of yawning in a person. Ranging from the realm of minor physical disorders to more serious matters, like a stroke.

Physical causes of yawning can be changes in the normal sleep cycle of a person. For example, a traveler that is going to a different time zone may show signs of fatigue since their natural clock is adjusted to the time zone that they came from. Another physical cause could be chronic venous insufficiency or improper blood flow through the veins. Having poor blood flow will lead to your body’s inability to pump enough of the oxygen deprived blood back into your heart. Another physical cause can simply be a side effect from medication. Many medications can cause drowsiness and/or insomnia. Always be sure to know what type of medication you are taking and what the side effects are.

An emotional cause of yawning can be depression or stress. With depression, your mind and body do not act correctly, which can cause a higher blood pressure and sometimes tension in the chest. Yawning breaks our train of thought even just for a second, allowing our mind and body to calm down and release tension. With stress, a good yawn works much the same way in calming your racing mind and allowing your body to relax.

Serious and sometimes life threatening causes can be exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). By yawning, your body is trying to increase the oxygen count in the blood and decrease your carbon monoxide count. Under COPD, people are forcing their bodies to work harder while trying to maintain proper levels. Many COPD cases account for a multitude of lung diseases, all of them resounding towards the inability to breathe properly.

Ignoring excessive yawning and not getting help can lead to a number of things like difficulty performing daily tasks and inability to participate normally in social activities. It also leads to a poor quality of life and even causes depression. Yawning may not be simply because you are tired or bored. If you are yawning excessively you should ask yourself some questions. When did you first become aware that you are yawning a lot? How often are you yawning? Do you seem to be yawning at the same time each day? How much sleep are you getting the night before? What type of medication are you on? Do you experience any other symptoms like chest pain or rapid breathing? All of the answers to these questions can help your doctor to narrow down the cause of your yawning. If yawning is affecting how you live your life, be sure to contact your doctor’s office to schedule an appointment.

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