Stupid Concerns Thread: I can't "Finish" Yawning


For the last two weeks or so, I’ve been having a yawning problem.

The problem seems to be that I can’t seem to “finish” the yawns. I’ll feel the urge, shut my eyes, feel my mouth open up, but then there’s a tiny little twinge in my throat, right in the muscle, and my mouth will sort of involuntarily close itself before I feel as though I’ve gotten the yawn “out,” so to speak. This impression is corroborated by the fact that I’ll just keep on yawning, 30-90 seconds apart, for minutes at a time throughout the day, and none of them lead to that sort of satisfied, “well, it’s out of me now” feeling one gets after a nice good yawn.

Now, I rarely sleep great, and haven’t ever really gotten much sleep (26 now, so it’s catching up more than it used to), but honestly, I’ve been pulling 7 hours of being in bed a night (due to back pain and dry mouth, it’s probably closer to 5.5 hours actual sleeping-time) pretty consistently.

Anyone ever experienced a rash of “incomplete” yawns like this? Is my throat broken? Do I have yawn-cancer? Am I already dead and just haven’t realized it yet?

I’ve had the experience you describe on rare occasions, but it’s never been more than a one shot and I never gave it much thought. I’m curious now, though, and look forward to seeing what the cause might be.

You know that if you ask Internet for medical advice, diagnosis will always be cancer.


I have a feeling it’s 99% mental. Try to not think about it.

I feel like a hammer looking for a nail sometimes with this, but do you tend to be anxious? Sleep problems + overfocus on yawning/breathing sounds anxiety-related to me.

That’s okay; my sister can’t finish sneezing. At least that’s what I thought for two decades, until recently she finished one while alone in a room which leads me to believe that she merely can’t finish sneezing in the presence of other people.

Some day she’ll explode, I believe.

Can’t say I’m a generally anxious person (usually laid-back to the point of annoying other people, missing deadlines, and undervaluing significant life events, apparently), but I will say that I’ve now developed a minor complex about this yawning thing; hence the post. I can feel one coming on now and I’m afraid to let it out because I’m sure my throat muscle will hurt and the yawn will be interrupted.

Seriously, of all the stupid shit in the world. . .

It’s never Lupus.

You’re not going to get an answer, since we don’t really know why people yawn in the first place. We have some weird-ass theories, but nothing conclusive showing any of them are any more valid than the others.

The “mental complex” is something that just happens. Recently I learned that I’d ground down some of my molars on the upper left. Nothing serious, just put some flat planes in there that shouldn’t be. I’d never noticed it until my dentist remarked on it. Now I keep touching the damaged areas with my tongue, like that will help the enamel grow back. I’ll probably continue to do so until one day I forget. So it is with your yawning - soon enough you’ll yawn without thinking about it, and won’t interrupt it.

This thread made me yawn twice, and one more while typing. They felt great.

I’ve had this problem occasionally. Usually when some kind of pain interrupts the yawn. Like when I have a bad sore throat or a neck spasm. You know when you wake up and you have a crick in your neck? The pain just overrides the yawn.

That probably doesn’t help. Good luck, man.

I had a similar can’t finish yawning thing. The issue for me was my jaw, it was clicking and “snapping shut”. In addition to yawn issues I was also having issues eating due to my jaw tighting up (almost locking but not quite). Dentist said it was stress coupled with a tight bite which stopped my jaw from doing some natural sliding / relaxation at night. He gave me a night guard to wear which has significantly helped.

Asthma is a likely cause, as is allergies not letting you fully expand your chest. Getting too fat or out of shape also does it, as does fatigue.

Well, the reason I asked is that usually if you have a serious condition, you’ll have other symptoms. If you have asthma, for instance, you’d probably have wheezing or shortness of breath also, neither of which you mentioned. If you have allergies, you’d have other symptoms. Maybe not always, but almost always. The fact that you’re focused on one pretty obscure symptom, and are apparently concerned enough to let it take over your thinking to a large extent…that’s what anxious/phobic people do.

Also, when you said “I’m afraid to let it out because I’m sure my throat muscle will hurt and the yawn will be interrupted”, that’s a bit of a tell…you’re “afraid” to let it out. And not to over-analyze, but “annoying other people, missing deadlines, and undervaluing significant life events” would be something a psychologist would like to explore as well. It’s quite possible to have all sorts of stuff rattling around in your head and not realize it.

As Gus said below, most likely you’ll forget to be concerned one day, take in a big yawn and this episode will be over. But if you have any of the anxiety/depression/phobia/OCD complex, it’ll also very likely be back.

And to disclaim: I am not a licensed doctor, just a person with many long years experience with anxiety. If you’re really concerned, go see one.

Yeah, but then I have to feel dumb in front of a doctor rather than just strangers on the internet ;)

Anyway, it’s the point now where my jaw is starting to hurt from all the constant yawning, so I probably have to go in to one anyway. At least I get a lot of sick time at work :-/

I’ve had anxiety issues where I have not been able to get a deep breath / yawn effectively. Mostly happens at night. I used to boil it down to having a bit of “baker’s cough” from working in a dusty warehouse for years (cat litter dust is stupid).

Now, I tend to get it when I’m anxious (usually due to minor claustrophobia)…so another vote for anxiety.

I’ve had this happen on occasion, and for me it’s due to not being able to draw a complete breath at the time, I stop just short of that. Usually it is correctable, mentally, by relaxing, and trying it again repeatedly until I get a deep enough breath to pull it off. You might try some deep breathing exercises to expand your lungs ahead of time, and I bet you will have a successful yawn soon. Also, I don’t believe you can hurt yourself so don’t let it become a mental concern at all.

This thread reminds me of spanking the monkey for some reason.

You sound perpetually tired to me? Your bad sleep patterns are probably very much part of it. When was the last time you had a proper ‘get away from it all’ (that means technology too) holiday? Sometimes it is the simple things in life we need the most?

And to take this further, just in case it helps others also, sort of in order of magnitudes (so you can take steps):

When is the last time you deliberately went somewhere without your mobile phone/(connected device) with you?

When was the last time you relaxed to watch a sun rise/sun set out in a beautiful natural setting?

When was the last time you sat around a real camp fire somewhere remote (no light pollution) with a beer and friends and watched the amazing night sky and breathed in the awesomeness of it?

When was the last time you had a swim in the sea/river/lake (that is not full of 15-eyed polluted fish!)?

When was the last time you trekked through virgin tropical jungle to come across a natural waterfall and had a swim?

All that kind of stuff. Our modern lifestyle removes us from our real selves so much it is sometimes really hard to know where to start to understand this, so start small and simple. And get some good sleep, then you won’t yawn. We are not machines, we are mammals.

This has never, ever happened to me. The “simple things” you describe interest me not at all. Being away from technology causes me more stress, not less. Technology embodies most of my stress relievers - even books these days, since I prefer eBooks for convenience whenever possible.

I like my modern lifestyle, and I’m my real self, thank you. Sorry you don’t. I wish you all the joy of the Medieval peasants.