Yawning has been viewed as a sign of exhaustion and, in some cases, boredom.

Yawning or oscitation is an involuntary act of opening the mouth and taking a deep breath of air which is then exhaled. While it is considered a sign of fatigue, it is also viewed as a sign of disrespect in social gatherings. However, this simple bodily function may also be a sign of underlying health concerns. Here are five things your consistent yawns might be trying to tell you:

  • You need to slow down: More specifically, your brain needs rest. Yawning moves hot blood from the brain and replaces it with cooler air from the lungs, which is why yawns are sometimes referred to as the body’s natural radiator system.
  • You’re tired: Getting only a little sleep causes the brain temperature to increase, which causes you to yawn in an attempt to cool it down. Unfortunately, while yawning may help you focus for some time, it is not a total cure to the tiredness you feel.
  • It’s contagious: Sometimes, you might be yawning because you saw someone else do so. Watching anyone yawn triggers a yawn in you.
  • A side effect of your medications: Yawning can also be a side effect of taking medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, medications commonly used to treat anxiety or depression.
  • An underlying issue: Excessive yawning is also associated with heart disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, liver failure or hypothyroidism.