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Migraine Symptoms: Yawn yawn yawn

Yawn yawn yawn“Stop yawning, or go take a nap for a few minutes.”

I can just hear my dad’s voice, exasperated after my tenth yawn in a row (probably without covering my mouth, truth be told).

My dear father is incredibly sweet and easygoing, but he has his pet peeves—and people yawning excessively right in front of him is one of them. Sure, the not-covering-the-mouth thing is rude. No question there, and I’m guilty of that. I may be wrong, but I think one of the reasons he doesn’t like witnessing excessive yawning is because the yawner appears bored or in need of sleep.

After years of living with migraine disease, I’ve finally this year realized for myself that, for me, yawning (excluding bedtime yawning) doesn’t mean either of those things listed above. Rather, it means that the migraine process has probably begun.

A couple of weeks ago I had a few migraine days in a row. The first one came on while one of my employees, T., was working with me at the bookshop. I started yawning in the afternoon and could. not. stop. (Oh, my word. Even typing the word “yawn” in this post has got me on a power-of-suggestion yawning bender!) Maybe it was being around T., who is a great guy but not a close friend. Maybe it was being in a fairly new environment, the bookshop. Or maybe it was just that I’m now more aware of my own health patterns. But it dawned on me immediately: “Oh, I’m getting a migraine.” I let T. know that my yawns had nothing to do with him, that they were a part of the migraine process. I’m thankful I gave him the heads-up, because I also realized that he probably could use another warning. “I know I can be forgetful sometimes anyway, but please know that if I repeat myself or ask you a really foolish question, it may just be because my brain isn’t working right.” T. was very understanding and encouraged me to go home and get rest as soon as we closed the shop that night. (He was right on, too, as by the time we closed up I had a full-force migraine on its way and went home to crash.)

Does anyone out there get these obnoxiously intense yawning jags? I know it’s a common sign of prodrome but haven’t talked to many others who go through this. Do you say anything to those around you? Do you even notice what’s happening? I’d love to hear from you on this.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • magicmorningstar
    1 month ago

    Yes, I get these intense yawning jags just before the pain starts. They continue for about the first hour as the pain increases, ugh.

  • Joanne
    1 year ago

    I have had a precursor to migraines for over 40 years. My Mother was told that childern don’t get migraines. I just thought it was my strange body trying to tell me something.

  • Joanne
    1 year ago

    This has been a precursor for me for 0ver 40 years. This was long before it was a sign and long before they told my Mom that childern don’t get migraines….

  • P3ggy
    2 years ago

    Excessive yawning and heavy eyelids/exhaustion always proceeds mg migraines. Now that I know my precursors I can attempt to premeditate before a full blown migraine happens.

  • emilyjane
    2 years ago

    I never noticed until a few weeks again when I started having my migraines within a few weeks of each other that I would yawn before I started getting the feeling like my head was being tightened until it was gonna explode. I have no auras before a migraine starts so I can’t predict when one will happen. But when I start yawning I know I’m against the clock. My boss and colleagues think I’m tired and being rude. I had one yesterday which has stuck around again today with nothing easing it apart from having a ice pack on my head and sleeping in the dark. Normally after a migraine I feel hangover and drained the next few days and have really bad munchies as I can’t stomach the sight, smell or eat any food when I have a migraine as I just want to be sick.

  • taraceleste
    2 years ago

    I do this too!!!! I had no idea this was what has been happening. Whenever a person would comment on my excessive yawning, telling me I should take a nap. I always respond by saying… I am not tired its lack of oxygen. I am so glad I read this because even though it doesn’t make sense to me, I do it regularly. Thank you so much! 🙂

  • thoroughbred31
    3 years ago

    YES, I always yawn uncontrollably before a migraine! Nice to know I am not alone. It is so annoying that I have switched my mascara to a heavy duty waterproof variety. Once I start yawning, it doesn’t stop.

  • geebabb
    3 years ago

    Yes! I have realized for years that excessive yawning was one of my migraine warning signs. I feel as though my brain is not getting enough oxygen before a migraine. I was searching for information on the internet because I was just reading an article about yawning in mammals. From the article: “Yawning is generally viewed as a sign of sleepiness or boredom, but it plays an important physiological role in the body, said Andrew Gallup, an evolutionary psychologist and “yawnologist” at the State University of New York at Oneonta.

    Indeed, yawning does for our brain what stretching does for our muscles.

    When we stretch, we increase blood flow to a particular area of the body. Likewise, that gaping of the jaw — and accompanying deep breath — during a yawn brings a rush of blood to the head, delivering glucose and oxygen to our brain and neurons. It also keeps the brain cool.

    The implication of this is clear, Gallup said: “To produce the same types of effects, animals with bigger brains would need to yawn longer.”

    But there was no mention of migraine in this article. Don’t many doctors suspect constricted blood vessels in the head to be part of migraine?

  • Sharon Beckwith-Johnson
    3 years ago

    Come to find out this is one of those things that I do. Of course I didn’t realize it till I was out on medical leave. I also found out about sleep apnea too…which I also have.

  • jaredkail
    3 years ago

    This is a CRAZY post! My family and I swear I’m narcoleptic. I will get into “yawn mode” sometimes and I swear that I could just drop right then and there and go to sleep (if I’m home, I often do!) I’ve never considered that to be a potential warning sign of a migraine episode coming on. I’ll start paying attention!

  • Macbeck
    3 years ago

    All {y} the {aw} time {nnn}!!

  • calicatch22
    3 years ago

    I didn’t realize it was one of the auras or warnings. I get the random bouts of excessive yawning for sometimes thirty minutes on end…eyes streaming in tears, cannot talk…it happens out of nowhere. And same with hiccups, lots and lots of annoying hiccup days…which aren’t as long lasting as the yawning session. But it is very annoying to hear people constantly tell me to try this and try that…for both issues. Neither one of which I can easily hold any conversation through.
    Thank you for this post.
    Now maybe I can be more aware, even though I take zero medicine,abortives or preventatives for chronic migraines aside from Botox. I have an epilepsy diagnosis, which is the only medicine that I take. It’s frustrating to be in the care of a world renowned hospital and neurologist, who I respect and trust but yet still have such a debilitating condition which people seem to loathe me for.:/

  • Sharon Beckwith-Johnson
    3 years ago

    As a matter of fact this is one of mine. Looking back It would start on the drive to work and then I would be exhausted by the time I made it to work. At least I don’t have the markers for the cpac. Had my sleep study done so at least that much I do know.

  • calicatch22
    3 years ago

    What is a CPAC and sleep study in regards to migraines if I can ask?

  • Valerie
    3 years ago

    Since reading the Migraine Symptoms articles, I just realized that I, too, have yawning and watering eyes before an episode. I have also noticed that I get extremely tired. For some reason I never associated these symptoms with migraines. Matter of fact, I never realized I was having migraines but always assumed it was my sinuses until my ENT referred me to a neurologist.

  • Nananina
    4 years ago

    I understand what you mean. I also start yawning non-stop when the migraine process has started. In addition, i tend to get sugar cravings. It took me a while to make the connection.

  • tabby72761
    4 years ago

    I too have the ‘yawn thing’! It took me a while to realize the connection, but once I did, it really helps. As soon as I start the yawns, I will take a Maxalt and usually I can completely avoid the full-blown migraine.

  • SawyerBby
    4 years ago

    I’ve had migraines since I was 13 years old (so that’s going on 12 years now) and just today I read that excessive yawning is a big prodrome symptom that a good portion of migraineurs experience. I hadn’t even thought about putting two & two together until I thought about how much I had been yawning the past 24 hours, prior to the migraine setting in. Now it all makes SO much sense and I am extremely glad that I now know that excessive yawning means that the migraine truck is about to hit me like a semitruck.

  • kathkell87
    5 years ago

    I don’t always have a “yawn attack” before a migraine but whenever I have a spell of excessive yawning, I usually do.

  • reasings
    5 years ago

    Yes, I yawn excessively too! funny, just experienced today with a plethera of other symptoms and it 0ccurred to me, this is a sign/symptom of mine.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    I hope noticing this sign early (among your other symptoms) allowed you to treat your migraine quickly. Thanks for the feedback!

    Take care,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • The bomb
    5 years ago

    I’ve always suffered from sinus headaches but it seems the new medical diagnosis is they are actually migraines. These painful sinus headaches I’ve been told are not possible because of the muscle that runs above your eyes (ridge) has nothing to do with sinuses so sinus pain can not possible be transferred there. They feel I must be having migraines. Really? Admittedly, I’ve had migraines before but – Thank the lord – they have been few and far between. The sinus pain is generally right around the ridge of my eyebrows and when I put pressure on that area it is painful but does help relieve the pain. The yawning I suffer from can last all day. You can back a truck in, unload it, seriously. They are so intense that my jaw has starting popping. Lovely. 🙁

  • peeperview
    5 years ago

    YES!! Yawning! I’ve just recently realized a precursor to my migraine, often times, is excessive yawning. Which is often accompanied by a deep tiredness. Like Really, really tired.

  • easterli
    5 years ago

    I have uncontrollable yawning. It’s the only precursor that I’ve been able to identify.

  • whtesatin
    5 years ago

    I don’t think I’m a yawner, however I’ve never noticed, but I will now! I know I’m getting a migraine when I start to see bright lights (not just when the lights are on), of flashes of light – my Dr. told me when that happens (which it doesn’t always) to start my treatment at that time, to try to ward off the migraine.

  • Nola
    5 years ago

    Yawning isn’t a big problem for me, rather, it’s the cold hands and feet. I get so chilled sometimes that I need a hot shower or to crawl under an extra blanket. Even in the summer!

  • Nola
    5 years ago

    Yawning isn’t my biggest issue (although I do have it some) actually, the cold hands and cold feet are much worse. I sometimes get so chilled that I need a hot shower to warm up. Often, I will get in bed and cover up with an extra blanket.

  • Lindsay Rallo
    6 years ago

    I am a “yawner” too! I have also read that it can be related to TDD or TMJ syndrome. I think my migraines have cause me to clench my teeth from pain, and have in turn caused me to suffer from TDD.

    Has anyone else also felt a popping or loss of hearing while talking? I have daily migraines, but they are not as bad as many of yours. I can “live” survive through them. Some days are worse than others. It does get me down to deal with these symptoms every single day of my life.

  • calicatch22
    3 years ago

    I’m sorry to hear that and just wanted to say hello and that I hope you find permanent relief. You have a lot of us here who know what those words feel like from the inside out; I am one of them.
    Virtual hugs because it is so hard and so painful in every aspect of life.

  • kathkell87
    5 years ago

    I have TMJ problems and tend to clench my teeth. I never know if it causes my headaches or vice-versa.

    What is TDD?

  • Katura
    5 years ago

    I wonder about the connection to TMJ or teeth grinding. I grind (clench actually) when I sleep and I don’t know if it’s causing some of my migraines or is caused BY my migraines.

    The yawning and intense fatigue is so weird – and they come out of nowhere. But I will now view them as a warning

  • swolfe
    6 years ago

    Every specialist I have seen totally dismissed my “yawning attacks” Like I was nuts. However, after much research I have found that Basilar Migraines can cause these troubling changes in alertness. I can go from being fully awake to feeling miserable like I am on the longest nightshift ever!! The yawning can be so embarrassing. Sure enough, then starts the hearing and vision disturbances; the burning pain, severe vertigo and slurred speech. Full blown Basilar Migraine attack. A couple of times I have been accused of being high or people thought I was having a stroke. Thank you for this post. I am so tired of being treated like I just make this stuff up for the fun of it. Nice to know there are people out there that understand my crazy daily life!

  • kimmcclive-reed
    6 years ago

    Yes! I’ve get the yawns both prodrome and postdrome. I also have a slightly off-the-wall visual aura–my already existing eye “floaters” bother me more just before a migraine hits. The floaters are actual bits of tissue floating in my visual field (my opthalmologist can see them with a scope), but they obscure my vision more during aura, for some reason. Sometimes I get some gray spots in my vision as well. Floaters and yawns combined are my early-warning system.

  • Dana
    6 years ago

    I yawn like crazy sometimes but I always thought it was because my blood sugar was dropping quickly. I have checked my blood sugar when I am yawning and found it to be normal sometimes and low others. I am not diabetic. I never considered it could be prodromal. Definitely something to keep an eye on. Thanks.

  • Tracy Hopkins
    6 years ago

    Ya know now that I read this i realize I yawn a lot too….and try to take a cat nap but sometimes taking a nap I wake up with a migraine..

  • Kait Jackson
    7 years ago

    I’ll have to pay attention to my yawning. I started noticing my excessive yawning a while before my really bad migraines started, but maybe they were still there and just “painless” ones and I didn’t realize it at the time. I love reading other people’s stories, there’s always an “AHA!” moment for me somewhere in the reading.

  • Robyn Sampson Swiderski
    7 years ago

    YES! I thought it was just being anxious about something, but I’ve come to realize the same thing– constant yawning leads me right to my migraine 🙁 At least now I know to be prepared for the attack. thank you for posting this info!

  • Amy Hall
    7 years ago

    I have suffered with migraines for the last 15 years. I googled to see if there is a connection between yawning and migraines this morning and here we are…

  • Chris Darling
    7 years ago

    I always thought yawning was a sign of being tired, well actually it was mentioned on a course as being a sign of stress.Hope your migraine is better Amy:-)

  • Kristin Caryl
    7 years ago

    Yes thats exactly what happens to me!!! Ever since i was little- it’s a great warning for me to take it easy.a crazy amount of yawns in a row when im not even tired.then my vision loses focus.

  • Amy Warrick
    8 years ago

    Yep! Sometimes it is so uncontrollable before the headache that it hurts my jaw.

  • Marietta Johnson
    8 years ago

    My mother is the one who figured out that me yawning was related to migraine prodrome! Then I have read that it is. Definitely happens to me, but it still can take me some time to realized that it is happening…

  • Rachel Kaplan
    8 years ago

    I do. I’ll be very, very tired, and sometimes cold, hungry or hyperactive. But I only get prodromes before migraines with auras.

  • Cathy Ashenfelter Christensen
    8 years ago

    YES! I don’t always notice it, yet others will, because as you mention it’s non stop. I’ve come to realize too that why I don’t notice is my brain has gone into it’s “fog”….CRS (can’t remember stuff). I’m also finding that one of my ears and or sinus’s will be congested either that day, maybe even the prior one. This is something new.

  • Michelle Stewart Lambert
    8 years ago

    Ditto for me! I will yawn for no apparent reason, and I know it can be annoying for the same reasons as the author mentions. I will develop brain fog and blurred vision, to the point where I’ve had to go home from work several times. I’ve had people say that “they wish they could phone in sick with a headache”, implying that I am faking it. Anyone who knows me knows that I work really hard and have a great work ethic, so much so that missing work for any reason fills me with guilt! 😀

  • Tim McCarty
    8 years ago

    Thanks for the article. I’ve noticed that often I will get an intense sleepy spell with yawning just prior to the headache starting. Not every time, but most times. I wasn’t sure if others had the same thing happen. It does get some annoyed looks because people jump to wrong conclusions.

  • Louise M. Houle
    8 years ago

    oh no… hope that doesn’t mean a migraine is coming on for me. Ugh! I’ve noticed fatigue but not necessarily the yawning part. I’ll pay more attention now. Thanks for that.

  • Cindy Perrin
    8 years ago

    as I was reading this article, I realized this has happened to me on more than one occasion that I would yawn and couldn’t stop. I felt tired but knew that I had slept well the night before but I didn’t think anything about it until I saw this article. I am going to ask my neurologist about this as well too. prior to my headaches I don’t feel like my brain is working properly either it is hard for me to focus, read, I ask alot of silly questions to people, get confused, sometimes disoriented and then really tired for no reason at all. I had heard in recent years from my neurologist that this is the prodromal stage but I didn’t know what that meant. thank you for your articles they really help me understand these symptoms better.

  • Donna Davis
    8 years ago

    Cindy, If I didn’t know better I’d swear you were writing about me! Nice to know I’m not alone and imagining things!!

  • Barbara Nichols
    8 years ago

    Yes, I do, and for me it’s a sure sign, that a migraine is coming!

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    8 years ago

    Oh yes – one of the strangest part of Migraine for me. Yawn after yawn after yawn with nary a break in between signals trouble ahead and the need for meds right away…

  • heatherscott
    8 years ago

    Yep, I have noticed that; I’ll yawn about 10 times in maybe about 4 minutes. It’s most annoying when I’m in class and I get accused of not paying attention, but then I suppose it has it’s advantages because it’s a good warning system, you wouldn’t miss it!

  • Sarah Scott Blankenship
    8 years ago

    I do it too. I had a coworker at my old job that could tell by looking that I was getting a migraine, even before I knew sometimes, and I think this was one of the clues. I yawn a lot during the prodrome phase, but I’m also usually exhausted all the sudden. I always assumed my brain just needed more oxygen to try to head it off or something.

  • Barbara Collins
    8 years ago

    I thought it was just me. Yes, it happens to me, over and over but the fatique comes that day as well (however the day before I might have been a “house of fire with energy”).

  • Naols Taylor
    8 years ago

    I’m an instructor and advisor at a college and it’s awkward when it starts. I just have to explain to whomever that a migraine is going to happen and it isn’t that I’m bored or lost interest. And my thoughts are not complete. I may not be able to answer even simple questions. But the yawning is a “jag” where it can be 15- 20 times…just over and over. recently fractured vision and left eye tearing has started. And also my speech becomes paralyzed for seconds. It’s awful. I do the Botox next Thursday.

  • Janet Geddis
    8 years ago

    Mark Collins Fluorescents are a trigger for me–luckily my home and work environments are 100% fluorescent-free!

  • Adam Gibson
    8 years ago

    the flourecent lights do it for sure

  • Naols Taylor
    8 years ago

    I’m thinking the lights do it too. At school, Walmart, etc I always feel one coming on.

  • Mark Collins
    8 years ago

    Have you investigated if maybe fluorescent lights are triggering these migraines? Having Aspergers syndrome, myself, fluorescent lights can trigger panic attacks in me.

  • Anita Boyd Tinnerello
    8 years ago

    Yes, yes, yes! I always know because its not one or two yawns, but a series of one after another that can’t be controlled. Migraine starts within 8-24 hours. Oh, this site is such a lifesaver for me. For once I feel like someone understands the numerous symptoms, pains, signs that we all go through. Some of them sound crazy but are still very real and crippling.

  • Theresa Beauchamp
    8 years ago

    Until I found this site I thought that I was just really tired on certain days. I totally get into a yawning bender before some of my migraines! It’s the worst when you are in a meeting and just can’t stop yawning! You are not alone.

  • Jennifer Doray
    8 years ago

    I never put that together, that yawning was a sign of a migraine to come. I don’t always have the same warning signs. good to find out more.

  • Liesa Cline Black
    8 years ago

    I get these signs all the time but I am diabetic so when my suar is messing with me going up and down! I get migraines! For me it seems like taking 3 500 or 650 mg Acetimetiphen and a cup of coffee works for Migraine pain! AND LOTS A REST!

  • Jen T
    8 years ago

    Yes, I’ve noticed that, over the past 20 years that I’ve been getting migraines, I yawn excessively before I get one. It serves as a warning sign for me-that a migraine is very likely to happen. Sometimes I will get those “yawning jags” the night before I get a migraine. Then, if I wake up the next morning with one, I’m not surprised.

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