Why do we yawn? Investigating the connection between CO2 levels and yawning

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  • Thread starter GreatBigBore
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In summary, the conversation discusses the topic of holding one's breath and yawning, and how it relates to the buildup of CO2 in the brain. The speaker shares their personal experience of not feeling a panic sensation when holding their breath for a longer period of time due to yawning. They also mention a hypothesis about the connection between yawning and CO2 levels in the brain. The conversation ends with the speaker reflecting on the purpose of yawning.
  • #1
GreatBigBore
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Ok, so I'm sitting here holding my breath--think for a minute and you'll guess why--and I'm just about at that point where I can't hold it any longer. I'm just about to exhale, but then I have to yawn. Usually, when I'm just about to exhale, I get just a tiny little panic feeling, which I assume is due to the buildup of CO2 in my brain. But just now when I yawned, I held my breath for a good 5-7 seconds longer (due to the yawn itself), and felt no panicky feeling at all.

I've heard a hypothesis or two about how yawns have something to do with CO2 levels in the brain. I wonder if this lack of panic feeling in spite of going several seconds longer than seemed possible is a clue at all.

If it's nonsense, then just have a laugh at it. I've lost count of how many times I've held my breath tonight.
 
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  • #2
I just yawned and didn't experience any breath holding. It's more like a slow, extremely deep inhalation/exhalation, with profound, relaxed stretching of the throat and mouth muscles.
 
  • #3
Right. I was holding my breath already. When I normally yawn and I'm not altered, then yeah, it's like you've described. Just wondering if it's a clue at all as to why we yawn.
 

Related to Why do we yawn? Investigating the connection between CO2 levels and yawning

1. What is the purpose of yawning?

The purpose of yawning is still not fully understood, but it is believed to help regulate the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body, as well as to stretch the muscles in the face and neck.

2. Why do we yawn when we see others yawning?

The contagious nature of yawning is believed to be linked to empathy and social bonding. Seeing someone else yawn triggers a reflex in our brains that causes us to yawn as well.

3. Do we yawn more when we are tired?

Yes, tiredness and fatigue can increase the frequency of yawning. This is because yawning is thought to increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which can help increase alertness and combat drowsiness.

4. Can certain medications or health conditions affect yawning?

Yes, certain medications or medical conditions that affect the body's levels of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine or serotonin, can lead to an increase or decrease in yawning.

5. Is excessive yawning a cause for concern?

In most cases, excessive yawning is not a cause for concern and is simply a natural bodily function. However, if excessive yawning is accompanied by other symptoms or interferes with daily activities, it is recommended to consult a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

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