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Hidden Causes of Excessive Yawning

How Excessive yawning effects your healthOccasional yawing is quite natural. However, you should start taking notice when you notice that you seem to be yawning all the time. Excessive yawning can be a sign that there’s an underlying health problem that needs to be addressed. It may also indicate that you need to improve your sleeping patterns. So, if you’re wondering how to stop yawning so much, then here’s where to start.

What is Yawning?

Yawning is an involuntary process. Your mouth opens wide, and you breathe in air, filling your lungs. The eardrums stretch, and extra oxygen is carried to the brain and other parts of the body through the blood, making you more alert. Sometimes a yawn is of short duration. Other times, it’s long and drawn-out, accompanied by stretching.

For a long time, medical professionals didn’t understand why people yawn. But now, it seems obvious that there are lots of factors that can contribute to it. First and foremost, yawning may help to cool down the brain and regulate body temperature. This helps stimulate alertness and boost cognitive functions. This may explain why people tend to yawn at the start and the end of the day, because temperature changes are an important element of the transition between sleep and wakefulness.

You probably also yawn when you’re bored and your brain is understimulated. This may indicate that your brain is changing to a lower level of attentiveness. Alternatively, it could be your brain’s way of forcing blood and oxygen to the brain in order to increase alertness.

There’s also a link between stress and yawning. Yawning may indicate a shift from a relaxed state to an anxious one, so make sure you track your moods when you find yourself wanting to yawn.

There’s also a social aspect to yawning. This is why you’ll usually yawn when you see someone else yawn, or when you read about the topic. This may be an unconscious message that passes between two people.

This article is about how to stop yawning so much, has it made you yawn yet?

Why is Yawning Contagious?

When you’re trying to work out how to stop yawning, you also need to consider the fact that yawning can be contagious. Everyone has had the experience of seeing someone yawning and yawning in response. But did you know that you’re more likely to yawn after a sibling or family member than an acquaintance? This is just one of the many strange little facts about yawning.

Contagious yawning is also more likely to occur with the same species. You probably won’t feel like yawning when your dog does, and this reconfirms the importance of social bonds in the act of yawning.

Contagious yawning seems to be a social trigger or primitive form of communication. It starts to occur around the age of four or five, when children start developing empathy, and may communicate boredom, anxiety, or fatigue. It may also be a sympathy trigger.

Excessive Yawning

If you’re wondering how to stop yawning, then you probably experience excessive yawning. This can be due to certain medical conditions including:

A "Vasovagal Reaction"

This causes yawning and other symptoms like blurred vision, a clammy sweat, lightheadedness, pale skin, nausea, and tunnel vision. Vasovagal reactions occur when the part of your nervous system that sees to the regulation of blood pressure and heart rate is compromised and no longer responds as it should. This often occurs when you’re in stressful situations or when you feel you are in danger. The result is that your heart rate slows down, the blood vessels in your legs dilate, excessive blood moves into your legs, and your blood pressure drops. This drop in heart rate and blood pressure results in less blood reaching the brain. The body may automatically try to up its oxygen intake (by means of yawning) in order to ensure oxygen reaches the brain.

A vasovagal reaction and the accompanying excessive yawning may also be due to internal bleeding in the aorta area. It may also indicate that you’re about to have a heart attack or heart issues.

Fatigue

AFS and Excessive yawningOften you will yawn too much when you're tired. The extra oxygen released into the blood is the body’s way of trying to stay alert.

Medications

Certain medications can lead to excessive yawning, mainly because they make you sleepy. These medications include antihistamines, certain pain medications, antidepressants, and selective serotonin uptake inhibitors.

Liver Disease

The last stages of liver failure are often accompanied by excessive yawning. One of the possible causes for this reaction is the accompanying fatigue experienced during this time.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Studies indicate that those who suffer from MS have a tendency towards excessive yawning. It seems yawning provides symptomatic relief from MS. Additionally, those with MS also tend to have a thermoregulatory dysfunction that makes them unable to control their body temperature. This problem can be alleviated by yawning, which helps to cool the body down.

Epilepsy

Epileptic seizures can result in permanent brain damage that irritates the part of the brain sending out certain signals, leading to excessive yawning. This is fairly rare however.

Sleeping Disorders

Sleeping disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea may cause constant tiredness, leading to excessive yawning throughout the day.

Brain Dysfunctions

Research indicates that a brain tumor or stroke may lead to excessive yawning and can be linked to lesions in the brain stem. Yawning can also occur when the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland is compressed.

Overstimulation of the Parasympathetic Nervous System

The parasympathetic nervous system is a division of the autonomous nervous system. It is primarily concerned with slowing down the heart rate, conserving energy, and overseeing the activity of different glands. When this system is compromised, it can lead to excessive yawning.

Hypoglycemia

Excessive yawning is one of the first signs of hypoglycemia in diabetics.

How to Stop Yawning

Often, excessive yawning declines in frequency as your stress levels decrease or as adrenal fatigue improves. But if you’re still having trouble and wondering how to stop yawning, here’s what to try:

  1. Get more sleep - An adult should get up to eight hours of sleep every night. If you struggle to fall asleep, consider a warm bath before bedtime or try having a 20 minute power nap during the day. And whatever you do, stay away from any stimulating activities before going to bed.
  2. Breathe! - If you start yawning, practice an adrenal breathing exercise or other breathing exercises. Breathing calms the body and supports healthy temperature regulation. It also ensures more oxygen enters the bloodstream for distribution throughout the body, including the brain.
  3. Stay hydrated - Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Proper hydration is rejuvenating and helps suppress yawning. Cold water is best, as it also brings down your body (and brain) temperature.
  4. Take a break - If you’re working behind a computer all day, take regular breaks. Get a drink or just do something else for a few minutes.
    Get some fresh air. - Fresh air does wonders. Open a window, or if working in an office, step outside for a while.
  5. Stay cool - An overheating brain is one of the most common reasons for excessive yawning. By cooling your environment, you can help avoid this problem.
  6. Do some stretching exercises - If you feel an onslaught of yawning coming your way, stand up and stretch. Try to stretch your arms, legs, and back.
  7. Foods that help prevent Excessive yawningEat cool snacks - Refrigerated, healthy snacks such as fruit or yogurt bring down your internal temperature, helping you avoid brain overheating.
  8. Use a compress - You might not be able to do much about yawn prevention while in a business meeting, but you can do something to prevent it ahead of time. Press a cool compress against your head for a few minutes before going to a meeting to help stave off a yawning session.
  9. Go for a walk - A few minutes walk encourages you to breathe deeply, stretches your muscles, and helps with blood circulation. However, if you have advanced adrenal fatigue then you may need to refrain from this to avoid adrenal crashes.
  10. Cinnamon - Cinnamon has many health benefits and a glass of cinnamon tea once a day can help you to deal with anxiety and fatigue.
  11. Manage your stressors - In order to manage your stressors, you first need to determine what they are. While there is not much you can do about a stressful working environment, you can learn to manage it. Try a yoga class, start a new sport, try gardening, or take up a new hobby like painting, for instance.

When you’re trying to work out how to stop yawning, You need to be careful when implementing these strategies if you have adrenal fatigue as the resulting stress could make your condition even worse.

Yawning and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS)

Excessive yawning is an often overlooked symptom of adrenal fatigue, and it is usually at its worst right before the adrenals crash. Other symptoms include:

  • hormonal imbalance
  • constant fatigue
  • mood disorders like anxiety and depression
  • metabolic issues such as weight gain or blood sugar problems
  • cravings such as for salt, sugar, or caffeine
  • low blood pressure
  • sleep issues such as insomnia
  • cognitive issues such as trouble remembering things
  • thyroid issues like hypothyroidism, feeling cold, or dry skin

So, if you’re trying to learn how to stop yawning, it’s important that you consider the effects that this disorder could be having on your health.

What is AFS?

Adrenal fatigue is a surprisingly common condition, which frequently goes unidentified and is often brought on by chronic stress. Excessive yawning could be a sign of this condition.

The main function of the adrenal glands is to facilitate the body’s automatic stress response, producing cortisol to ready the body for dealing with stress. This system is called the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response. The NEM stress response is governed by the brain and starts with the hypothalamus. When the hypothalamus perceives stress (which may be due to physical, psychological, or environmental factors), it sends chemical messengers - neurotransmitters - to the pituitary gland, which in turn sends chemical messengers to the adrenal glands. The adrenals increase cortisol production for the body to prepare itself to either fight or flee. These three, the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands, are collectively referred to as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

Usually, once the threat that caused the stress is gone, cortisol production in the adrenal glands returns to normal. However, when stress becomes chronic, the adrenals continue with their heightened cortisol production. This has far-reaching consequences for the human body and can lead to AFS.

The Consequences of AFS

AFS causes widespread circuit imbalances and problems. As the demand for cortisol increases, the levels of other hormones drop because of the low levels of pregnenolone, the compound that’s used to make many of these hormones. This may be why you’re trying to work out how to stop yawning. Hormonal imbalances are strongly linked to fatigue and related problems, and may cause this symptom.

As imbalances occur throughout your body with AFS, other changes occur. The digestive system slows down, the immune system becomes compromised, and chronic inflammation congests the body’s circuits. In the meantime, your heart rate increases and your blood pressure and sugar levels rise, supplying extra energy in an effort to prepare you to fight or run away from danger. Unessential parts of the brain tend to be suppressed as your body prepares to react to the threat, and brain fog becomes common.

If this stressful situation isn’t corrected, the adrenal glands start to fail. It is usually during this period, just before adrenal exhaustion kicks in, that you find yourself trying to work out how to stop yawning too much.

Excessive Yawning in AFS

Neurotransmitters and Excessive yawning Research strongly suggests a definite correlation between yawning, fatigue, and elevated cortisol levels. So, if you have AFS, then you may find yourself looking for information on how to stop yawning.

Obviously, it could simply be linked to fatigue. As AFS progresses and circuit malfunctions occur, energy levels can dip sharply because of several causes such as blood sugar instabilities, hormonal imbalances, and poor sleeping patterns. However, there may also be deeper causes.
The act of yawning involves a number of neurotransmitters and neurohormones in the brain including dopamine and serotonin. Unfortunately, stress and the resulting higher cortisol production can upset the balance of these hormones.

Yawning helps to activate the release of certain brain chemicals, like dopamine, also known as the feel good hormone. This may explain why excessive yawning is quite common during the period just before advanced adrenal fatigue. It may be the body’s way of trying to increase its supply of dopamine and other neurotransmitters and neurohormones in an effort to counteract the effects of adrenal fatigue.

However, once adrenal fatigue progresses to the final stages and cortisol production drops, you may find that you yawn less. This implies that there is a link between high cortisol levels and excessive yawning that isn’t yet fully understood.

The Takeaway

Excessive yawning, especially in certain circumstances, can be quite embarrassing and may be an indication of an underlying illness. If you’re wondering how to stop yawning all the time, here’s what to do:

  1. Try getting more sleep and monitoring how much you yawn.
  2. Talk to your doctor about potential causes of the yawning.
  3. Try to reduce stress by doing yoga, creative work, or going for a walk.

If you’re worried about how much you’re yawning, then call +1-626-571-1234 to talk to the team or click here to use the Ask The Doctor System.

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