Trouble completing yawns?
June 29, 2010 11:56 PM   Subscribe

I yawn a lot, and often have trouble "completing" yawns. What's up with that?

When I don't get enough sleep, I yawn a lot, and often within minutes have to yawn again. But even when I get enough sleep, I yawn more than almost anyone I know. Not unfrequently, I'll yawn but fail to get that "satisfying crest" at the end, and immediately feel like I need to re-yawn.

It's not usually this extreme, but today I went out for a short run and had to stop to yawn every few minutes. I've asked the docs, but they generally shrug it off and they haven't even heard of someone having trouble completing yawns.

Besides when I am tired, it is worse when I have abdominal/stomach gas, too much caffeine, or stay in one position for too long (especially hunched forward).

Should I be concerned, bug the docs more about it, or just deal with it?

I am male, almost 27, 160 lbs, and in generally good health besides allergies, prehypertension?, and mostly-dormant asthma. This yawning business has been going on for at least 5 years.
posted by Earl the Polliwog to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Are you taking any medication for your health problems?
posted by halogen at 12:10 AM on June 30, 2010

Albuterol and loratadine as needed, but infrequently. Blood pressure has tended to read high for a couple years but the doctors have not diagnosed me yet; I'm scheduled to return in a month for a checkup for that. I have recently started running to get it down, as I already have a pretty good lower-salt diet.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 12:18 AM on June 30, 2010

That happens to me sometimes, too. It's frustrating as hell, but I don't think it means anything.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:42 AM on June 30, 2010

I fail to complete yawns too - I'm surprised the doctors haven't heard of it.
posted by biochemist at 1:07 AM on June 30, 2010

Do you snore? Do you wake up feeling tired? Do you wake up with a headache?

I used to yawn a lot before I started treating my sleep apnoea - might be worth looking into.
posted by Year of meteors at 1:21 AM on June 30, 2010

Oh man, I have and hate this. I don't think it is anything serious, just a need for more oxygen in the brains. At least, that's why I've been told yawns happen. Could your asthma be interfering with your oxygen intake and cause you to yawn more?
posted by roygbv at 1:33 AM on June 30, 2010

I get the urge to chain-yawn when doing crunches, I know Im probably not breathing properly when I do them, I tend to hold my breath through the set. So yeah, its your bodies way of getting more oxygen I'm guessing.

I suspect theres alot of technique to breathing properlywhen running that Im also yet to master - I fail on the breathing long before anything starts to ache. Maybe a local running club or shop could put you in touch with someone that'll help you with your running/breathing technique?
posted by Ness at 2:50 AM on June 30, 2010

This happens to me sometimes; it basically feels like you're not able to take a full, satisfying breath, right? Is it possible you need to change your asthma treatment methods?
posted by sarahsynonymous at 3:38 AM on June 30, 2010

I've had this since I was wee. My family would make jokes about calling "Doctor Stuckyawn"... I assume it's meaningless.
posted by kmennie at 4:42 AM on June 30, 2010

Very similar situation here, except mine isn't just yawns, it's every breath if I concentrate too hard on it, and it had an acute onset a number of months ago. I'm 12 years older than you and a bit heavier, but have allergies, hypertension and not hugely active asthma (night cough, though). All my peak flow lung function testing is normal or above normal, and my doctors eventually attributed it to anxiety.

I've been working on getting stress down and cutting out any stimulants that could make anxiety worse. I tried going off coffee today, and until I caved at about 10:30 a.m. that was successful. I hadn't had any breathing problems. Now that I've had a small amount of caffeine, however, I am

So, maybe it could be anxiety.
posted by Stewriffic at 8:24 AM on June 30, 2010

I do tend to have tension in my abdomen for no reason - that could be a part of it. I very rarely snore. I don't think it's because of the asthma as my lung peak flow is usually good, but I will keep an eye on it. Thanks for the responses so far.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 11:30 AM on June 30, 2010

Anxiety is my first guess too.
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:44 AM on June 30, 2010

FWIW, I have this problem, but nearly always at times when I'm anxious about something. In fact, I've started to regard it as a sign of anxiety.
posted by Logophiliac at 11:54 AM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Datapoint: I get this when I have anxiety.
posted by whalebreath at 12:43 PM on June 30, 2010

I also have this problem. I also yawn a lot, and am very susceptible to yawning suggestions--I have probably yawned fifteen times reading this thread about yawning.

I think this may be one of those situations where, because people don't normally talk about subjects like this, everyone thinks they are unique. But really, it's probably common.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 12:49 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I get this too, and it also happens when I try to take deep breaths/sighs. It feels like I can't get the air into the deep place somewhere in lungs, like something tenses up that's not supposed to and then I have to exhale.

I definitely think it could be stress/anxiety. This happens more when I'm going through shitty life periods.

I also vaguely remember hearing that when dogs yawn it's because they're scared/anxious.
posted by thebazilist at 12:57 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's your asthma. Lots of yawning is a warning sign that an attack is imminent.

Not being able to complete the yawn seems to be an effect of not being able to take a deep enough breath.

Here is an asthma forum page full of people who have trouble completing their yawns. Many have asthma, others have problems such as pleurisy and unusually positioned pregnancy (paralleling your gas, conceivably).

The anxiety connection your other answerers are reporting fits this, too, I'd say, since anxiety is associated with involuntary, rapid, shallow breathing.
posted by jamjam at 3:17 PM on June 30, 2010

I bet you carry your stress in your diaphragm. Yoga might help you learn how to breathe a full breath and relax your diaphragm.
posted by jimfl at 5:49 PM on June 30, 2010

I started doing this after I had back surgery several years ago. I ended up wearing a support girdle for a week or so, and I think I *learned* how to associate not breathing well, with stress.(Never in my life had I had that problem before). For several years after that, if I was stressed out, I wouldn't be able to complete a yawn exactly the way you are saying, or also if I started gaining weight.

For awhile now, I've been exercising, and that keeps it totally under control.

I never saw a doctor about it, but I did google it, and there are a lot of other people out there with the same problem.

I don't have asthma, but I was still quitting smoking/just recently quit around the times that happened. Come to think of it, that could also be a reason why it hasn't been a problem for me anymore, I've been quit for quite some time now...

Anyways, I always suspected that it happened when I was stressed out, either psychologically or physically. I hope that helps somehow...! I know it's horribly frustrating!
posted by Locochona at 7:52 PM on June 30, 2010

Wow, I thought I was crazy for having this problem.
I am 22, female, and have had dormant to mild asthma (triggered by allergies, cold air, stress, illness, and exercise) since I was 6. I also have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in the past. While I can't help you isolate a variable, I feel about 80x less crazy than I did earlier.

I also can't stop half-yawning while reading this thread and now I have to try and go finish yawning.
posted by quadrilaterals at 5:36 PM on July 1, 2010

I had long suspected it was the tension, but thought it went away more than it has - in the last year I've switched to a much less stressful job. But now that I have been paying attention to it, I'm still pretty tense a lot of the time. Couple that with a few of days of higher morning levels of airborne allergens triggering a very light amount of asthma probably explains most of it.

Now, to figure out how to drop the tension. Thanks again, all.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 11:21 PM on July 1, 2010

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