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Differences Between Yawning and Sighing

Yawning vs Sighing

There are several methods for how we inhale and exhale air which can be in the form of yawning and sighing. Without going into too many technical details, we often yawn because we are sleepy. We often sigh because of boredom. So why do we really yawn and sigh? Are there health-related issues associated with yawning and sighing? To answer these questions, let us discover the differences between yawning and sighing.

We cannot escape from yawning if we are tired and bored. If you are tired from school or work, yawning is just a natural response of the body. We yawn to gather more oxygen inside our body system. When we yawn, we create an involuntary action making our mouth open widely and breathe in deeply. This action allows air to fill our lungs, makes our abdominal muscles flex, and pushes down our diaphragm. With that, excessive carbon dioxide within our body can be pushed out and replaced with more oxygen.

However, too much yawning in a day can be an indicator of a health problem. According to studies, a person yawns each day. But if it happens a lot, the possible health problem would be a sign of sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea. Frequent yawning would prevent you from having a good night’s sleep. As a result, you can experience daytime fatigue.

Yawning is said to be contagious. When we see somebody yawn, a little bit later, we tend to yawn ourselves. However, yawning is not really contagious. According to studies, people just have that feeling of empathy when someone yawns. It’s only in your mindset.

On the other hand, sighing is also induced when one is bored or depressed. It’s more involved with the psychological aspect of the person when expressing his emotions. According to some books, sighing is the involuntary inhalation which is twice as deep as the person’s average inhalation. When we sigh, the respiratory muscles that are usually involved are the upper chest, the dorsal muscles, and the upper sternum.

Sighing may also be indicative of health problems like thoracic or chest breathing. If you have excessive sighing, this can be a sign for a panic disorder or other anxiety disorders. You should visit your doctor in managing your care. In some recent reports, sighing may also be present when one is already asleep. This commonly occurs among adults as well as infants. Take some time to observe your parents while they are sleeping. They often sigh 1 to 25 times in a night. Sighing has been the breathing release mechanism of adults since they are often problematic. When you sigh, you are gasping for more oxygen to enter your brain. You inhale deeply through your nose and exhale the carbon dioxide through your nose and mouth. But it’s not like yawning wherein you have to open your mouth widely.


  1. We yawn or sigh when we need more oxygen in our body and brain. Both yawning and sighing are involuntary breathing mechanisms.

  2. A person yawns with their mouth open widely, inhaling the oxygen inside the body, and forcing out the  excessive carbon dioxide within the body.

  3. A person sighs through inhaling deeply through his nose while exhaling the carbon dioxide through his nose and mouth.

  4. Yawning is often associated with tiredness, sleepiness and boredom. Sighing is more inclined to be involved with the psychological aspects of the person which also includes boredom as well as depression.

  5. Excessive yawning or sighing can be an indicator of health problems.

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1 Comment

  1. This article contains misinformation. I don’t know if I should sigh in despair or yawn from boredom over the overwhelming amount of misinformation on the web offered up with such joyous generosity.

    May 13, 2013 – Unfortunately, the theory that yawning reflects low oxygen or high carbon dioxide levels isn’t true. Yawning occurs even when oxygen and …

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