Breathing, something you can only go minutes without, is such an underrated topic of optimal health. If you look around you, about 70-80% of adults in America are breathing through their mouths, aka “mouth breathers”. Whether it be during the day or at night, mouth breathing is not good for our bodies. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and why breathing correctly will change your health and your life.
We can go weeks without food, days without water, but only minutes without breathing oxygen. Why are we not making this more of a priority?
Babies are born naturally breathing through their nose. If you see a baby breathing through their mouths they are sick and they likely need to go to the doctor. Somewhere in childhood kids start mouth breathing. Maybe because they observe adults do it, or they had congestion and couldn’t breathe through their nose and it became a habit. We don’t know, but it happens. This starts a breathing pattern and causes a SLEW of issues:
- Facial structure changes, including crowded teeth, and jaw symmetry.
- Tooth decay
- Dry mouth
- Mouth breathing (accessory breathing) activates our fight or flight hormones, which tell our body to constantly be alert and cause tremendous stress over time. Accessory breathing will lead to a weakened metabolism, immune system, hormone imbalance, and our mental and emotional state each day.
Holy shit right?!? I’ve only been mouth breathing my whole life. No big deal.
Let’s talk about the benefits of breathing through the nose.
- Oxygen=energy. Plain and simple. “Every time you breathe, you nourish your body and brain” – Belissa Vranich
- 20% of oxygen is used by the brain. If we aren’t breathing correctly, we aren’t giving our brains enough oxygen, in turn affecting memory, judgment, endurance, and our hormones. (MIND BLOWN)
- Breathing through the nose gives you a calming effect, instead of activating our fight or flight stressors.
- Increased performance and increased recovery. AKA Optimal health. You will have better overall health in all aspects of your life.
- Posture. Breathing through our nose with the tongue on the roof of our mouth behind our front teeth, improves our posture.
How to breathe through your nose.
- Breathe in through your nose all the way down into your belly and spread it around. You should feel the breath expand your rib cage, you should feel it in your back and hips. Tip: your shoulders should NOT be moving up and down!! If they are, try again.
2. Your tongue should be on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth at all times. Surprisingly with your tongue in this position, it helps give you correct posture, which then helps you breathe better.
3. Exhale through your nose. If you are having trouble finding your belly breathing, lay on your belly on the floor, rest your forehead on your arms and try all of the steps above. You will feel your belly expand on the floor. Adding resistance is a great way to find the correct breath.
4. PRACTICE. Start becoming aware of your diaphragm breathing. Take 1 minute, or even 3 breaths a day to practice finding your breath. The good thing about breathing is you can do it ANYWHERE!! Your car, waiting for the bus, sports games, church, watching television, working. It will take time and I guarantee it is 100% percent worth your time. Eventually you should be breathing through your nose all day everyday, even in your sleep (I will talk about below). Workouts, walks, inactivity, all through the nose breathing.
Sleep and breathing
To be honest, I put off taping my mouth while sleeping for years because I thought I would scare the living daylights out of my daughter if she were to come into our room in the middle of the night. It isn’t pretty, but as a chronic night time mouth breather, I didn’t want to lose all the work I put in during the day to my 8 hours of mouth breathing at night. I showed my daughter ahead of time and told her about it. We joked, and she understood that yes mom and dad are weird, but she knows how important health is in our family.
Taping my mouth at night has been one of the best things I have done for my health. I recover better, I don’t wake up with a super dry throat and mouth, my sleep score on my whoop has been the highest EVER. I also feel like I have more energy during the day! Win, win!
Make it fun.
My husband also tapes his mouth and pretty much every night we send sign language symbols of love to each other to go to bed. We have learned to ask questions, laugh, and say goodnight now before taping. The first couple of nights, McCourty (our dog) was having a slight allergic reaction to new treats we had given him. The noise of a dog continuously licking their paws is like nails on a chalkboard to me, waking me up out of a dead sleep. Try yelling with tape across your mouth. Yeah nothing happens. Even whisper yelling doesn’t work! I quickly have adapted to snapping my fingers or getting all the way out of bed to pet his head to stop, and 100% laughing about the story the next day.
Want to add humor into your bedtime routine? Start the taping your mouth trend! Just kidding. Even though it is actually funny. Most importantly you are FULLY nourishing your body with oxygen while you are actively recovering. SO SO important. It has only been about a month of practice for us and we can significantly see the benefits in our recovery. Don’t knock it until you try it!
Start by breathing through your nose during non strenuous activities like sitting. After you become aware and get used to that, move on to walking, or stressful situations. Workouts, shocker, should be through the nose!! This changed my performance in all my workouts.
This changed my performance in all my workouts. Instead of feeling stressed during a high intensity skill (running, explosive exercises, circuit training) I now feel challenged but relaxed. After you get used to breathing correctly through the day I would then try the tape on your mouth at night. You have to stay consistent. You have to practice. Make this a priority for major health benefits!!
“Oxygen is sustenance in a way that food can never be. Yes, you should eat leafy greens, organic and local, and take your vitamins . . . but the best way to take care of yourself is to deal with the most important thing first: your breathing. Everything else is secondary.”