Do you often wake up with a dry mouth, bad breath, stuffy nose, or a scratchy throat? Do you snore? These are all signs that while you’re sleeping, you’re breathing through your mouth. Mouth breathing can cause snoring, sleep issues, sleep apnea, and changes in the structure of the mouth, resulting in orthodontic issues among other health ailments.
Mouth breathing dries out the saliva in the mouth, which creates dysbiosis in the oral microbiome. This prevents remineralization of the teeth, possibly leading to cavities, and produces foul-breath-causing volatile sulfur compounds and other strains of undesirable mouth bacteria.
In one study, 50 patients with nasal airway obstruction and obstructive sleep apnea were medically treated to remove the nasal block. Nose breathing was shown to improve 98% of patients’ sleep apnea, 38% of patients were relieved of snoring, and 78% reported increased daytime energy.
A full night of nose-breathing sleep brings the following benefits:
- Deep nose breathing engages all 12 ribs to act as levers massaging the heart and lungs.
- Nose breathing and full ribcage activation act as a pump to pull lymph fluid from the lower parts of the body up into the chest cavity and heart, supporting healthy and active lymph flow.
- Nose breathing and full ribcage activation are critical for optimal flexibility and elasticity of the spine, head, neck, and low back.
- Nose breathing lowers heart and breath rate compared to mouth breathing.
- Nose breathing increases alpha brain wave activity compared to mouth breathing. Alpha brain waves are produced during relaxation and meditative states. Mouth breathing exercise produces a significant amount of beta brain waves, which are associated with stress response.
- Nose breathing increases brain wave coherence compared to mouth breathing. Brain wave coherence is associated with calm and organized brain function.
- Nose breathing exercise demonstrates shorter recovery times and better endurance than mouth breathing exercise.
- Those practicing nose breathing exercise report 50% less fight-or-flight stress and 50% more calm parasympathetic activation compared to mouth breathing exercise.
- Nose breathing while sleeping can eradicate snoring and help prevent and treat sleep apnea.
One of the main reasons nose breathing versus mouth breathing is so beneficial is that breathing through the nose produces Nitric Oxide (NO), an important molecule for us humans for many reasons. Some of the benefits of NO include:
- Regulates vascular tone and blood flow
- Delivers oxygen to mitochondria for energy production
- Supports healthy blood viscosity
- Supports healthy arterial lining, preventing cardiovascular disease
- Generates antioxidants for repair, such as SOD (superoxide dismutase)
- Supports healthy blood sugar and better insulin sensitivity
- Lowers BMI (body mass index)
- Regulates brain blood flow and neural plasticity
- Supports cellular immunity
In 1998, the discovery of nitric oxide won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. It was called the “panacea molecule,” supporting cellular repair like nothing seen before. Nitric Oxide (NO) is produced in the endothelial cells and through nose breathing. When you breathe through the nose, an abundance of NO is driven into the lungs’ lower lobes, where it acts as an anti-inflammatory, hormonal, antiseptic, and repair agent for the entire respiratory tract and the delicate tissues of the lungs.
Given all this great information, we support the practice of “Sleep Taping”, which is literally putting a small piece of tape across your lips to train your mouth to remain closed while you’re asleep. You can use some surgical tape, available in most first aid kits or at any drug store. Keep the piece of tape to a small area. Spouses, don’t go Duct taping your sweetie’s mouth shut to stop their snoring, tempting though it may be! Don’t worry, if your nose is so plugged you’re struggling to breath, the tape will come right off, even if you’re asleep when that happens. Try it for a week, and see what changes you notice!