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Does yawning serve any useful purpose?

During yawning, you breathe in deeply while you hold your facial muscles tightly contracted. Normally, you breathe 15 to 20 times a minute. When you feel tired, you may breathe only half as often, and may not get as much oxygen as you need, which causes nerve cells in your brainstem to make you breathe deeper and faster, and your facial muscles to contract in a yawn.

Breathing deeper and faster brings in more oxygen which refreshes you for a few seconds, but it also causes you to blow off more carbon dioxide from your bloodstream, which can make you feel dizzy and more tired. So yawing also can help put you to sleep, which is the most effective treatment for tiredness. After you nap, you can wake up feeling refreshed.

December 10, 2005

May 30th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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