We were recently approached by a media organisation asking a question around this subject and here’s our reply…
The benefits of improving breathing to someone who is struggling to sleep take many forms:
Key is HOW you breathe during the day. That’s whilst eating, working, exercising and relaxing.
The causes of poor sleep from a breathing education perspective include:
Mouth breathing by day – this has become common place and you might be surprised by how many people think it’s correct to mouth breathe. This puts you on fight or flight and can create a cascade of stress throughout your body without you being aware.
Your breathing being audible at rest – this basically means you are breathing a volume of air far bigger than required. It’s often out of habit following a change to your breathing pattern after a sustained period of stress.
Sighing, sniffing, and yawning with big breaths also creates over breathing and impairs sleep when you finally get your head on the pillow.
Large breaths prior to talking along with lots of visible upper chest movement have a similar effect.
The remedy for a better sleep via breathing?
Improve your breathing and sleep at night by nose breathing at all times during the day (except during strenuous exercise, not recommended for poor sleepers until their breathing is re-trained).
Look out for mouth breathing whilst e.g. using all technology, eating, watching a horror movie and walking in the park.
We encourage clients to reduce then eliminate regular sighing, sniffing, and yawning with big breaths.
Eliminate processed foods and overeating as they both increase breathing rate beyond that of fresh food. Eat light to breathe right.
Don’t eat late and don’t eat heavy protein meals just a few hours before bed.
Excessive talking in e.g. sales and teaching jobs creates fatigue owing to the loss of CO2 and oxygen.
High temperatures in houses can impair your breathing rate too.
Once you reach your bed, make sure you don’t mouth breathe whilst asleep.
We also encourage our clients, under supervision, to wear a very light and thin strip of micropore tape over the lips to keep the mouth closed during sleep. They initially practice this during the day whilst e.g. working at a computer.
We also offer lifestyle tips including:
Mindfulness to minimise ruminating negatively
Using carbonated water (C02) when enduring talkative days
Putting your brain to bed two hours before yourself
Stay away from beige food
Ensure good tongue posture – poor posture is responsible (in conjunction with a tongue tie) of causing (amongst many other symptoms) the jaw to drop and mouth to open at night
The benefits are life changing and, the techniques and accompanying lifestyle advice are simple. Admittedly, they are not easy to commit to but all you need do is focus on those life-changing benefits and they act as a huge incentive…especially as drastic improvements in health/sleep can be experienced in 4-6 weeks.
Written by Joel Jelen
Joel is a Fellow of Buteyko Professionals Intl institute (FBPI)