Sleep apnea is a common problem that affects many Americans, but nasal breathing can result in improved sleep quality. In this breathing technique, smaller hairs seen in the anterior part of the nasal cavity, called cilia, move back and forth to move the mucus out of the sinuses and back of the nose. Cilia can also be found lining the air passages, where they help move mucus out of the lungs. Cilia also protect the nasal passages and other parts of the respiratory tract, filtering out dust and other particles that enter the nose through the breathed air.
According to the Ciliopathy Alliance, cilia range from 1-10 micrometers and the width is less than 1 micrometer. It is estimated that cilia protect our bodies against about 20 billion particles of foreign matter every day. Air travels from the nose through the windpipe to the lungs. Nasal breathing keeps air in your lungs longer than mouth breathing and provides up to 20% more oxygen in your bloodstream at any given time. Nasal breathing also warms the air by as much as 40 degrees before it gets to the lungs, this is especially important in cold weather. Most importantly, patients minimize the effects of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that affects over 26% of American adults ages 30-70.
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Benefits of Nasal Breathing
Nasal breathing has significant benefits for patients. Visiting an ENT – ear, nose and throat doctor – helps patients learn more about their breathing efficiency. Proper technique reduces hypertension and stress, filters the air through the nostrils and sinuses that we breathe, and provides increased oxygen in the body leading to increased energy.
Breathing through the nose protects an individual’s oral health. When an individual inhales through their mouth, the gums, tongue, and oral cavity become dried out, resulting in excess acids in the mouth. Extraoral acids cause the gums and teeth to decay faster. A moisturized mouth remains healthier for the long term. Nasal breathing helps the facial muscles and bones develop correctly and helps develop straight teeth. When the mouth is closed, the tongue is in the proper position to help the jaw grow correctly, and teeth emerge in the right places.
Belly Breathing and Nasal Breathing
Combined with nasal breathing, belly breathing is the most efficient way to achieve optimal health. The best practice for nasal and belly breathing is to take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Belly breathing is used most commonly in the practice of meditation to relax and calm the body. Nasal and belly breathing combined has been shown to lower heart rate, help cope with post-traumatic stress disorders, calm the brain before bed, and increase oxygen flow before and during sleep.
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Nasal Breathing Helps Prevent OSA
Breathing through the nose lessens the chance of snoring, reduces the chance of sleep apnea by keeping the tongue in the correct place in the mouth, and helps with a good night’s sleep. Mouth breathing is linked to three chronic conditions: sleep apnea, diabetes, and heart disease. Breathing through the nose gives the body the correct amount of filtered air that it needs to keep people sleeping peacefully through the night. Oral breathing can also make OSA worse by increasing airway collapse and nasal resistance.
For patients with obstructive sleep apnea, especially those using positive airway pressure devices, nasal breathing is crucial. If there is complete or near-complete nasal obstruction, patients on PAP will be forced to breathe through their mouth. Sleep apnea is important to test in patients to prevent life-threatening comorbidities.
Monitor Symptoms of OSA with DreamClear™
As a healthcare provider, it is important to monitor a patient’s breathing habits in order to promote a healthy lifestyle. DreamClear™ can help diagnose sleep-related conditions that may be triggered or worsened by improper breathing.
Contact a member of our team today to learn more about how DreamClear™ is improving efficiency with home sleep apnea testing