Why Do I Yawn When I Sing? Pro Answers & Advice

why do i yawn when singing

Singing is an excellent past-time, a great way to connect with others, and a meaningful method of expressing yourself. 

But nobody wants to hear singing with yawning right smack dab in the middle of it. 

Why do we yawn when we sing?

Yawning while singing is usually caused by either a need for more oxygen, confusing reflexes when raising the soft palate or opening the throat, or a need for heightened concentration. Yawning isn’t something we can control, but there are ways to prevent it while singing. 

Let’s look ahead for more details on why we yawn and what to do about it while singing. 

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4 Reasons You Yawn When You Sing

An Oxygen Reflex

The first reason is an obvious one: 

Your body wants more air!

Yawning is one of those reflexes to help your brain get more oxygen and, thus, help it work better. 

When you’re singing, you’re focusing your air on another task, namely, creating a good singing sound. 

But if you don’t take big enough or often enough breaths, your brain may start to think it needs more air. 

Adding more breaths and taking full breaths will help with this. 

Too much air can cause this too. 

As you sing, your brain may be getting more oxygen than it’s used to for a while. 

Then, when you stop, it gets confused. 

Wait a minute! I had a lot more oxygen a minute ago. I must need more. 

Then, your yawn reflex kicks in. 

Raising The Soft Palate Confuses Your Brain

When you yawn normally, what happens?

One of the first and unique steps to a yawn is when you raise the soft palate of your mouth. 

Rub your tongue on the roof of your mouth by your teeth. 

This is the hard palate. 

Now, move the tongue on your mouth’s roof toward the back. 

Do you feel where it gets soft? 

This is the soft palate. 

When we sing with good vocal technique, we lift this soft palate to produce more resonance space and create a bigger, richer sound. 

The muscles that do this when we sing are the exact same ones that do it when we yawn. 

If you’re not used to this in singing, it’s perfectly normal for your body to trigger a yawn when singing because it thinks that’s what you’re trying to do. 

Open Throat Triggers A Yawn

Along the same lines as the soft palate, opening our throat causes a yawn reflex. 

An open, relaxed throat is critical for great singing. 

It allows for more air intake and, therefore, more sound potential and support. 

It also provides more resonance space, though it affects the sound to a lesser degree than the soft palate. 

Now, we open and relax our throat when we eat, too, so it’s less likely to trigger a yawn while singing, but it’s not unheard of or unexpected. 

Good Singing Requires Concentration

Making music is a big task. 

Professional singers make it look easy, but if you’ve tried it, you know it takes work. 

The more complex the music, the more you need to focus. 

Scientists have done studies on the brain and found that huge levels of brain activity are needed to sing well. 

All this focus and activity is taxing on the brain. 

It needs more concentration and focus to do well. This burns up oxygen, so the brain wants more. 

When the brain wants more oxygen, it may start to feel “tired” and cause a yawn. 

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3 Ways To Prevent Yawning When Singing

No one wants to yawn in the middle of a song. 

It ruins the whole feeling of the music. 

While we can’t always eliminate the urge to yawn, there are ways to prevent it from happening as frequently. 

With some folks, it may lower it so much that it’s basically stopped altogether while singing. 

Here are three ways to help your sing-yawn situation. 

Warm Up With Deep Breathing

Deep breathing does a lot for singers. 


  • Loosens and strengthens your breathing muscles
  • Wakes up the brain and increases focus
  • Gets your body used to handling more oxygen
  • Increases blood flow to the muscles, including vocal cords

Improper breathing deprives oxygen. 

Doing this regularly and making it a habit will train your brain and body to realize that singing is normal and a cause for a pesky yawn activation and natural reflex. 

One quick deep breathing exercise goes like this:

  1. Center your body in a comfortable but upright sitting or standing position. 
  2. Close your eyes and relax your hands down at your sides or on your lap. 
  3. Breathe in a full, deep breath through your mouth for a slow count of 4. 
  4. Hold your breath without tension for a count of 8.
  5. Let it out through your nose for a count of 6. 
  6. Repeat 5+ times. 

This is not the breathing I’d recommend for a wind instrument player, but it works well for singers. 

The counting provides focus and breath control. 

Further Reading: Tips for singing higher in chest voice

Practice Consistently

Another thing most people neglect is their consistent practice. 

Even if you do deep breathing or sing well, you’re still likely to yawn if your body isn’t used to the singing process. 

Consistency is key to getting your body used to a habit. 

Once or twice per week for an hour each isn’t going to cut it. 

It’s better to spread your practice over every single day (or at least five days per week) than it is to put longer practices on a couple of days. 

This is how habits and familiarity are built. 

Get Good Sleep

This tip may seem obvious, but it’s worth it to mention. 

Are you getting enough sleep? 

Is the sleep you’re getting quality sleep? 

As I mentioned before, singing is a brain-intense process; even if you’re a little tired, the lack of sleep can get to you.

The extra focus needed may tell your brain it needs to yawn for a quick hit of oxygen. 

Don’t neglect little things like this. It’ll make a big difference! 

Exhausted singers yawn a lot more, and seasoned singers make sure to get their rest, especially before a show. 

Adequate sleep is different for each person, so do what your body tells you that you need. 

Get all the experience of singing lessons at a fraction of the price (and at your own speed) with 30 Day Singer.

Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher in Michigan with 12 years of experience. He's the President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and founder of the Dynamic Music Room.

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