Yawns are unsatisfying

Dear Dr. Roach: I have been unable to complete a yawn for a couple of years. You know, that final “aaah” feeling. My doctor just smiled and offered no explanation; I’m sure she had never heard of this before. I am a 70-year-old woman who is retired. Any ideas, suggestions or recommendations to end this unsatisfied feeling? — M.G.

Answer: Nobody knows for sure why we yawn. It can be related to low oxygen, fatigue or boredom, but there is a “yawn center” of the brain (in the hypothalamus) and even fetuses have been shown to yawn.

I have read two possible explanations why some people have incomplete or unsatisfying yawns: The first is that in some people, anxiety is the impetus to yawn, and that type of yawn just isn’t satisfying. The second is that stretching of the muscles of the face and jaw are necessary for the yawn to be complete. For some people, repeated stretching (from a “forced” yawn) and breathing in very deeply can lead to a satisfying yawn. I’d be happy to hear advice from readers.

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