How to Stop Yawning

Jonathan Warren

Author: Jonathan Warren



How to Stop Yawning

Shut your eyes and picture yourself all tucked up in your comfy bed, ready for some serious snoozing. Dreamy, right? Now, be honest – did just the thought of some well-earned sleep make your mouth open wide and your eardrums pop? Did you take in a sharp, deep inhalation of breath that filled up your lungs before slowly breathing out? Well, friends, what you've experienced there is some good old oscitation, or as it's more commonly known, a yawn.

Often synonymous with a pre-bedtime stretch, or quickly followed by another cup of coffee at the crack of dawn, a yawn is a strange reflex that humans of all ages experience multiple times a day. In fact, you might have even yawned when you were still in the womb!

Here, we delve deep into the dozy details about why we yawn, what yawning actually means and uncover whether yawning is actually contagious or just another old wives’ tale. But most importantly, if you feel like you spend the majority of your waking hours yawning right the way through til bedtime, we’ve got a whole host of top tips on how to stop yawning all the time!

What is yawning?

To put it simply, yawning is a common, involuntary reflex where you open your mouth wide, inhale deeply to fill your lungs with air and then quickly breath out.

We most commonly associate yawning with feeling bored or tired, but research has shown that we actually yawn for a lot more reasons other than just being a bit sleepy.

Why do we yawn?

Truth be told, the jury’s out on the precise reason for this involuntary human reflex. But there tends to be general expert consensus on a few key factors as to why we might yawn from time to time.

The most obvious reason for a stretch and a yawn is a very simple one – you’re tired. A yawn is your body's way of trying to keep you awake and can often occur immediately after waking up or just before heading to bed. When we’re sleepy, our bodies tend to take in less oxygen as our breathing slows down. As a result, your brain jumps into action, forcing an involuntary yawn to flood your bloodstream with oxygen as you inhale and push out the pesky carbon dioxide (the reason you’re feeling so sluggish) as you exhale. Thank you, brain!

Another commonly cited cause is boredom. There's a reason why overly long work meetings are known as snooze-fests and if you struggle to engage with what’s going on around you, you might find yourself stifling a yawn and covering your mouth in front of a colleague.

From a more scientific viewpoint, it’s possible that a yawn is the body's attempt at cooling down the brain. If your brain is a little overheated, a sudden intake of breath works to increase your heart rate. Many researchers believe this is all in the name of regulating brain temperature, as a faster heart rate helps blood move through your body more quickly, and the action of stretching out your jaw improves blood flow in your face.

Is yawning contagious?

Yes! Videos of people yawning, the sound of someone yawning, or even this blog dedicated to yawning can be enough to trigger an oscitation outbreak. One of the most common theories behind ‘catching’ a yawn is that it’s a sign of empathy – seeing someone yawn will most likely make you follow suit, especially if you’re close with the yawn-starter in question.

But while this may be the cause – along with other theories that include time of day, age and intelligence – there's no conclusive findings as to why yawning is so contagious as yet.

Tips for how to stop yawning

As we’ve already said, yawning is an involuntary human reflex meaning it can't always be controlled and you’ll never find a way to beat it off for good. It’s natural to yawn multiple times in a single day, however, there are ways to reduce it if you feel like you yawn too much.

It’s important to note though, that if you find yourself yawning more than once a minute, this could be considered as ‘excessive yawning’. If you're suffering from excessive yawning, it's time to speak with your GP as it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition which needs a bit of TLC.

But, if this isn’t the case and you're just trying to stifle those pesky yawns in important meetings at work, follow our quick tips on how to reduce yawning below.

More rest

While more rest may seem pretty self-evident, carving out enough time in our daily lives for proper rest can prove quite tricky. It’s so important we don’t neglect our sleep, so even if you’re the busiest person in the UK, be sure to organise your day in a way that means you can properly wind down come nighttime and get a good seven to nine hours of sleep each night. It’s important to remember that the quality of your sleep is much more beneficial than just the number of hours you manage to get in, so establishing a good bedtime routine and creating an optimal sleep environment will pay dividends for your overall rest in the long run.

Play it cool

Keeping your environment cool could help combat those awkward yawns. As noted previously, a yawn is considered an attempt by the body to cool down the brain, so lowering the temperature of your environment, eating or drinking something cold, or using an ice pack if you’re particularly toasty could help you reign them in!


It’s widely thought our brain makes us yawn when it wants to increase our oxygen intake. Stretching more often is a fantastic way to increase blood flow around our system and deliver oxygen better around our body. Why not incorporate a bit of stretching in your morning wake up routine to get the day started? You won’t regret it and there’s no question it’ll help you wake up a little faster.

Focus on your breathing

Deeper breathing can help the brain get more oxygen, which might be why you're yawning in the first place. You could also try to breathe more consciously through your nose, thereby reducing the risk that a sharp intake of air might cause your open mouth to extend so far that it sets you off on another yawning spree.

Improve your quality of sleep

An obvious cause of increased yawning is that you haven't got enough quality shut-eye – and that's where we can really help. At Time4Sleep, we believe there's nothing better for the body and soul than a good night of restorative kip.

Clamping down on your late-night technology use, sticking with a regular alarm clock, and exercise are all great ways to make sure you're getting that restorative night's sleep you need but your yawning could also mean it's time for an upgrade in the sleep station department. From luxurious Sleigh Bed frames and sleek TV beds, to fresh Pocket Sprung Mattresses and ever so comfy Memory Foam Mattresses, we've got you covered if you feel your current setup isn't quite up to the task.


Suspicious that you’re yawning is down to you feeling sleepy? Caffeine could be the answer. An extra cup of coffee or tea in the morning could be all you need to feel a little perkier and banish your morning yawns. And if you’re not a coffee drinker, look to certain foods, supplements, energy bars or protein drinks that contain caffeine to get your fix without massively changing your habits.

Stay stimulated

Boredom gets the best of us and is often behind a bout of big yawns, so make sure you keep your day to day interesting! Whether that’s a fidget toy at your desk, a new exercise class after work, a new hobby or even reading a book on your commute, keeping your brain stimulated will help you to reduce your boredom-based yawns!

What if you can’t stop yawning?

Research has shown that the average healthy person yawns around 10 to 20 times per day. However, many individuals can yawn many more times than this a day, with some people even yawning up to 100 times. This is known as excessive yawning and is a strong indicator that your body isn’t firing as it should and an aspect of your health needs to be addressed.

If you can’t stop yawning and think you are experiencing excessive yawning, consider what the cause might be. Here are some of the main causes of excessive yawning highlighted by sleep experts.

  • Drowsiness and Overtiredness

The most common cause of yawning is lack of sleep. So naturally, if you haven’t been getting enough rest and are in a state of considerable sleep debt, you can expect to be yawning a lot more than usual. If you have been getting a good sleep though and are still experiencing excessive yawning and drowsiness, this could indicate the possibility of a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy, in which case you should have a chat with a medical professional to investigate.

  • Stress and Anxiety

You may be surprised to learn that excessive yawning can actually be a response to elevated stress and anxiety. When we feel agitated and tense in high pressure situations, the body’s natural response is to take deep breaths and let more oxygen in to alleviate anxiety. As such, our stress-filled brains trigger a yawning response to help regain control of our usual breathing pattern and calm us down subconsciously. If you find that you’re yawning excessively whenever you feel stressed or anxious, it could be a good idea to speak to a therapist. Together, you can explore the issue more deeply and learn some robust breathing, stress management and relaxation techniques to attack your stress levels at their root cause.

  • Medication

Frustratingly, unwelcome side effects to medication can also be the culprit behind excessive yawning. Although more rare, this is especially true of medication that targets the central nervous system, such as antidepressants, anxiety medication and sedatives. If this occurs, it’s important you reach out to your GP to discuss your symptoms: you may require a dosage adjustment or an alternative course of treatment.

  • Possible Underlying Health Conditions

Unfortunately many underlying health conditions and neurological disorders can cause excessive yawning. For example, a sudden increase in yawning could be a warning sign of a heart condition such as a stroke. In other instances, excessive yawning could be a symptom of epilepsy, migraine headaches, a brain tumour or even multiple sclerosis. Obviously these conditions are very serious so if you experience a significant increase in yawning alongside other worrying symptoms, it’s imperative you seek medical advice as soon as possible.

If it’s the case you feel your excessive yawning is being caused by a lack of quality sleep or a poor sleep routine, this can be easily fixed by focusing on improving your sleep hygiene. The average healthy adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day, so review the steps you take before bedtime to see where you could make some positive changes. These don't need to be massive adjustments either: it could be as simple as putting your phone away an hour before bed, cutting down on caffeine or investing in a better quality mattress. For more tips and tricks, check out our blog on How to Improve Sleep Quality.

However, if you believe your excessive yawning stems from something more deep rooted than simply not getting enough sleep, talk to your doctor. Keep track of the symptoms you notice alongside your frequent yawning and fatigue so you can give your doctor a full picture of what’s going on day to day when they assess your situation. This means they can then ensure an effective and holistic treatment plan can be established and get you back on the road to full health.

For more tips on how to up your slumbering skills to beat off the yawns, have a read of our helpful guide on How to Improve Sleep Quality.