Excessive Yawning

What Is Excessive Yawning?

Yawning excessively is a condition where a person yawns more often than normal. This condition is caused by various reasons, such as boredom, sleepiness, or stress. Excessive yawning can also be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as sleep apnea, anxiety, or depression. Doctors may refer to this condition as yawning a lot, too much yawning, or severe yawning.


There are several different excessive yawning causes.

Excessive yawning reasons include:

  • Physical Causes—Fatigue, general tiredness, body temperature malfunctions, and stimulation of the vagus nerve can cause frequent yawning. Excessive yawning and sleep disorders are often correlated.
  • Emotional Causes—Anxiety and depression can lead to yawning excessively.
  • Medication—It is rare for medications to trigger yawning.
  • Life-Threatening Causes—Strokes and tumors can cause regular yawning.
  • Certain Neurological Disorders—ALS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, stroke, narcolepsy, or frontal lobe or brain stem tumor.

There has been some speculation regarding other causes for excessive yawning, such as vitamin deficiencies, changes in blood pressure, or changes in oxygen levels.

Some have theorized that excessive yawning may be due to a vitamin deficiency. Currently, there is no scientific evidence that indicates excessive yawning is due to a vitamin deficiency. However, there are certain vitamin deficiencies that cause fatigue, which may lead to yawning. Being low in B12 may cause B12-deficiency anemia, which may cause fatigue. Iron deficiency may also cause fatigue and lead to yawning.

Scientific evidence has not pointed specifically to a lack of oxygen as being a cause of excessive yawning. However, some medical conditions that contribute to a reduction in blood oxygen saturation, such as sleep apnea, have been known to cause excessive yawning. Sleep apnea occurs when there is a narrowing of the airway when you try to breathe in, or when your brain fails to send appropriate signals to your breathing muscles. Both forms of sleep apnea can lower oxygen levels in the body and may lead to fatigue and yawning.

Vasal vagal syncope is another medical condition that may induce yawning. This condition occurs when your blood pressure and heart rate drop rapidly, causing you to faint or pass out. It typically only happens while standing or sitting. One of the symptoms of vasal vagal syncope is yawning.

Signs & Symptoms

If you develop excessive yawning, you might notice physical, emotional, or other severe symptoms.

Physical symptoms of yawning excessively:

  • Yawning—You yawn more than once in sixty seconds.
  • Burping—When you yawn, you might also burp or make other sounds. There is a common association between excessive yawning and burping.
  • Breathing difficulties—You might experience excessive yawning and shortness of breath.
  • Stretching—Yawning stretches your lungs, heart, and body.
  • Heart rate—An increased heart rate is possible with this condition.
  • Cooling—When you yawn, your body is potentially trying to cool down your brain. 

Emotional or psychological symptoms of yawning excessively:

  • Frustration—You might feel aggravated by constant yawning.
  • Anxious—If you find yourself unable to stop yawning, you can feel anxious or worried.
  • Boredom—When bored, your body lapses into a low-activity state. Yawning is your body attempting to wake you up. 

Anxiety often causes the body to feel keyed up or on edge, which is due to an activation of the sympathetic nervous system, and allows your body to be ready to respond to a threat or any perceived threat. Conversely, for your body to regulate during times of threat or perceived threat, it engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows your body to feel calm and safe. Yawning is characterized as a function of your parasympathetic nervous system, and it helps your body to feel calmer and more regulated.

Certain medications used to treat anxiety have also been known to cause fatigue and more frequent yawning.

Severe or life-threatening symptoms of yawning excessively:

  • Heart problems—If yawning excessively is accompanied by chest pain or an irregular heartbeat, it could be a sign of a heart condition.
  • Stroke—Sudden, severe yawning could be a warning sign of an impending stroke.
  • Brain tumor—In rare cases, yawning excessively can be a symptom of a brain tumor.


Yawning excessively can signify an underlying condition or complication. Untreated, the condition can lead to serious health issues and even fatality.

Excessive yawning complications include:

  • Bleeding—You might experience bleeding around your heart.
  • Sleep disorders—Sleep apnea or insomnia might be a hidden precursor of constant yawning.
  • Heart attack—Heart attacks can occur with severe yawning.
  • Life disturbance—Yawning up to a hundred or more times in twenty-four hours can interrupt your daily activities. Frequent life disturbances can result in emotional and mental health challenges, including depression.

When to See a Doctor

Yawning is a normal and healthy bodily function. On average, a person yawns 5-10 times a day, with 20 yawns a day still being considered within a normal range. Healthcare professionals define excessive yawning as more than 3 yawns every 15 minutes several times a day.

If you have noticed recent changes or atypical patterns of yawning, it may be time to consult with a doctor. Changes may include:

  • Excessive yawning (3 or more yawns every 15 minutes, several times a day)
  • Unexplained yawning
  • Unexplained fatigue 


To diagnose the cause of excessive yawning, your doctor will first ask about your medical history and symptoms. Next, your doctor will perform a series of tests to gather additional data for a more precise excessive yawning diagnosis.

Sleep Disorder Tests

If your doctor suspects you have a sleep disorder, they will likely recommend a sleep diary or polysomnography (PSG). A sleep diary is a written record of your sleep patterns and habits over several days. A polysomnography is an overnight sleep study that monitors your brain waves, heart rate, breathing, and leg movements.

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

An electroencephalogram is a test that records the electrical activity of your brain. This test is often used to diagnose seizures or sleep disorders.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging or X-rays may be ordered if your doctor suspects you have a tumor or another type of mass in your brain. These imaging tests also allow your doctor to examine your heart and lungs.


Excessive yawning treatment might involve non-medicine or medicine-based treatment. Your doctor will customize treatment based on the cause of your excessive yawning and any underlying conditions.

Non-Medicine Treatment

To treat your condition without medicine, doctors usually recommend lifestyle changes. Your doctor may ask you to increase physical activity, use a breathing device, reduce certain medications, and establish a consistent sleep routine.

Medicine-Based Treatment

If your excessive yawning is based on another medical condition, your doctor might suggest medicine-based treatment. The type of medication varies according to the underlying health issue. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to help you sleep. Additionally, if you are currently taking medication that may induce fatigue or excessive yawning, your doctor may recommend different medication, or dosage changes.

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