Are you a mouth breather? You may not know it but breathing primarily through your mouth not only affects your sleep, but it also has a major impact on your health. Maybe you are not quite sure whether you breathe through your mouth while asleep, after all, you are sleeping; but there are a few easy ways to determine if you are a mouth breather. Once you have determined that you suffer from this ‘habit’ there are ways to correct it. You will soon see why this is so important!
Do You Recognise These Symptoms?
Unless you can stay awake and monitor how you sleep, which is a virtual impossibility, you may want to learn the symptoms of being a mouth breather. These would include:
- Inability to sleep without waking periodically;
- Lack of energy throughout the day;
- Dry mouth;
- Stuffy nose;
- Inability to concentrate; and
- Foul moods.
And, those are just some of the symptoms you might recognise in yourself. There are many more, but those are the most common.
Nitric Oxide – The Magic Molecule
Now most people do not understand why breathing through their nose is so vitally important to overall good health. Not only will many of the above symptoms be alleviated by proper breathing (both when asleep and awake!) but the individual’s overall health will improve through the simple act of learning to breathe through their nose. It is all about the magic molecule, nitric oxide (NO).
Although nitric oxide production can occur in any cell within the body, a major portion is produced in the nose and in the paranasal sinuses (NO is released in the nasal airways in humans. During inspiration through the nose this NO will follow the airstream to the lower airways and the lungs).
It is not really important to understand the physiology of how NO is produced, but according to the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) this magic molecule has amazing antimicrobial and vasodilating properties. In other words, better heart health and an enhanced ability to ward off a great number of diseases.
Dealing with Being a Mouth Breather
As mentioned above, breathing through your mouth can significantly interrupt sleep cycles which, in turn, can have an adverse pathology. Not only will you not get sufficient sleep but your health may suffer as a result. There are varying ways to deal with this problem, but first, it might help to make a concerted effort to keep your mouth closed during the day! When you find yourself breathing through your mouth, shut it! Force yourself to develop a habit of breathing through your nose.
It may take some time to break a lifetime habit of mouth breathing, so you can not expect to suddenly start breathing through your nose while asleep. There are a number of products on the market, but many people find that literally taping their mouth shut does the trick. A product like SomniFix mouth tape has an opening large enough so that you will not suffocate. To get enough oxygen, you are ‘forced’ to breath correctly through your nose. This kind of product can be an invaluable aid to ‘train’ your sleeping body to breathe correctly.
Remember, breathing through your nose is vital to the production of NO, that magic molecule promoting good health. You can learn to breathe through your nose while awake, but when asleep you will need some extra help.