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When I read books to my sons, I get an overwhelming urge to yawn. I'm generally not tired around the time the boys are going to bed, and I don't think I'm bored while I'm doing the reading. I'm wondering whether I'm just not breathing properly while reading aloud and that's part of the problem. Does anyone else have this problem?

So far my eldest is 3 years old, so he hasn't quite picked up on it, but I'm sure as he gets older he'll start to feel like I'm bored when I'm reading and I don't want him to have that opinion of what I consider to be an important bonding time.

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Perhaps you're really really good at reading the bedtime stories and they're making you feel sleepy too :o) –  JBRWilkinson Nov 22 '11 at 16:23
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+1 This happens to me all the time. My kids are 12 and 9 and they just know that daddy yawns a lot while reading. It's become part of the ritual. –  Graeme Perrow Nov 22 '11 at 17:54
    
Take a bottle of water with you. Keeps you going, and allows you to take small breaks as you sip some to catch your breath. Also, use the yawning to your "advantage" to show your kids that "see, everybody's tired and it's bed time". –  haylem Sep 17 '13 at 23:15
    
Whether you feel tired or not, if you have kids you are probably operating on some sort of sleep debt. Beyond that, the accepted answer is a great one. –  Kevin Oct 30 '13 at 20:41
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5 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Another explanation could be psychological. Hear me out, it sounds far fetched but makes sense.

Yawning is contagious because a group's social ties are strengthened using such mechanisms. This can be seen across many species of pack animals, and humans belong in that category.

So when you want your kids to sleep, you are putting yourself in a suitable state of mind. This causes your yawning, because yawning is a relaxing and de-stressing activity. Your yawning would subconsciously cause your children to yawn in response, thereby relaxing them.

It sounds silly, but it works. Of course it also works in the opposite direction; if you're stressed and agitated when trying to put the kids to bed, they'll pick that up too. It's amazing how sensitive children are to your true mood, regardless of what mask you wear.

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I just work it into the stories... my little one can't read yet, but whe she "reads" the page from her memory of my stories, she inserts the yawns just like I did :) –  r00fus Nov 28 '11 at 4:49
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I'd say that yawning is a good thing. This is sleepytime, you're in a bedroom, and you're sleepy (parents of small children are always sleepy). Forcing yourself to stay awake and alert is exactly the opposite thing from what you want your kids to pick up on and emulate.

Also, it's entirely possible that your behaviour's based on theirs. They're sleepy, and you'll pick up on that.

If they're distressed that you're bored, just let them know that you're tired now, and it's time for sleep. Hopefully that'll help them to nod off.

The one danger is that your wife will find them downstairs watching TV and going "Daddy fell asleep, so we put him to bed."

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+1 for "parents of small children are always sleepy" –  Benjol Nov 28 '11 at 12:23
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Oh yes I have this problem too :-) Not only when reading to my son, also when singing at events :-(

One thing I can think of is that one cause of yawning is simply lack of oxygen. Don't slouch; sit with a straight back so that you can breathe fully. Take a deep breath occasionally, this can also double as a small artistic/suspense pause in the story.

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This would be my suggestion, I have the same thing happen with me when I read to my eldest. I think this is the issue since with my younger I read to him from the rocking chair and my eldest likes me lying in bed next to him. –  MichaelF Nov 21 '11 at 18:50
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Similar to Troben's comments about psychological is that often we use reading as a relaxing activity for ourselves as well as part of our children's bedtime routine. Reading and getting ready to sleep is linked for many people because this is the most common time we read. I would suggest if you are concerned about that link appearing to be boredom rather than winding down, try reading earlier in the evening and maybe altering the bedtime ritual.

As a side note, I am an elementary librarian and some days I cannot help but yawn all through books that I honestly enjoy simply because I become relaxed as I read and whether or not I want to admit it, I am tired!

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I find I yawn more when my posture is slouched, with restricts how easily I can inhale. This reduces the oxygen in my blood and causes my body for force yawns in order to get more air.

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