Nasal breathing

Humans are naturally nose breathers. Mouth breathing is not optimal and can have a number of consequences on memory and sleep and impair the development of teeth and jaw structures in children.

Mouth breathing vs. nose breathing

Do you breathe mainly through your nose or mouth? Try it just now – put your lips together and breathe only through your nose. How do you find it? Are you ok breathing that way for a longer period of time? And what about when you are walking or climbing the stairs? The truth is that humans are naturally nose breathers. Mouth breathing is not optimal and can have a number of serious consequences when long-term such as; impaired oxygen absorption in various tissues, negative effects on sleep and memory, but also may impair the development and shape of the oral cavity and teeth.

Breathing is the essence of a healthy life

In our previous articles Breathing and Posture I and Diaphragmatic breathing practice we have talked about how our breathing pattern affects spinal stability and posture. In this article we will look at the different functions of nasal breathing and their effect on overall health.

The nasal cavity functions as a filter that helps humidify the inhaled air, captures pathogens from the environment and, of course, provides us with the sense of smell. But nasal breathing has a lot of other benefits we lose when breathing through the mouth.

MINT Terapie panevniho dna
MINT Terapie panevniho dna

Long Face Syndrome

It all begins with the position of the tongue. In mouth breathing, the tongue rests down and forward, not on the palate as it happens during nasal breathing. In children, this changes the normal growth pattern of the palate, and the structure of the jaw but also the airway. That leads to inadequate skeletal growth, crowded teeth, high-positioned palate and may develop to the ‘Long Face Syndrome’. Further associated with problems are with food intake, sleep, attention or and even speech. These kinds of symptoms are also often confused with ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Practice nose breathing! You will stop snoring, and climbing the stairs won’t make you short of breath!

If you breathe mostly through your mouth, you are also more likely to experience troubles like snoring, sleep apnea (sleep disorder in which pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep occur more often than normal). Of course, cognitive functions like memory or attention are also affected in adults. Nasal breathing also improves your cardiovascular fitness and consequently sports performance. Even professional athletes are coached to train with their mouth closed focusing on nasal breathing to increase endurance, stamina and muscle memory.

Nasal breathing improves oxygen saturation levels in the blood. This happens also due to the fact that nitric oxide is produced in the nasal cavity. Nitric oxide directly increases the level of oxygen in the blood – by an average of 18 % when compared to mouth breathing. The production of erythropoietin, a hormone that helps increase the number of red blood cells and thus the capacity to carry oxygen, is also increased. Thus nasal breathing improves aerobic capacity, cardiovascular fitness and delays fatigues and lactate production.

Three-step screening for mouth breathing

  1. Lips together at rest – yes or no?
  2. Nasal breathing – yes or no? (Check each nostril for air intake).
  3. Tongue posture at rest – up, down, middle?

Did you find out that you breathe more through your mouth than your nose? Start practising nasal breathing gradually. At first focus on long calm inhales and exhales through your nose for 30 seconds or one minute. When it gets easier, start practicing nasal breathing also while walking, climbing the stairs, and your other activities such as jogging. You may also try to train breathing through only one nostril then the other, and alternate.

The way we breathe affects our body much more than it may seem at first! Try our tips and let us know if you have any questions! 🙂