One of the simplest health “hacks” is nasal breathing (again, biohackers calling a what is really just a natural action a hack).
However, I have always had trouble breathing through my nose, which has led to me noticing sore throats, dehydration, and a longtime battle with easy asthma issues, among many things that I haven’t noticed.
But there is no denying the benefits of nasal breathing, and it’s something a big portion of us, don’t do well, don’t do often, but we need to start to focus on it.
Nasal Breathing Benefits
Get sick less: Breathing through the nose boosts nitric oxide (NO) levels and many studies have shown nitric oxide as having an ability to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Interestingly in a 2005 study, NO was also found to lower SARS Coronavirus replication by 82%. Kind of relevant in today's world…
Lowers stress: Nasal breathing, particularly nasal belly breathing, is a HUGE factor in helping us deregulate our stress system (sympathetic, fight/flight), and boost our para-sympathetic system (recovery, rest/digest). This is why pretty much all breathing practices from box breathing to ayurvedic Yogic breathing styles incorporate some form of nasal breathe work. Nasal breathing allows also for more oxygen to reach our lungs lower lobes, where mouth breathing tends to hit the more upper lobes, and causes shallow breathing.
Improves O2 in the blood: Many think that mouth breathing would allow us to have more O2 in our body as it feels like we are bringing in more air, but the reverse is true. Mouth breathing can acutely throw off our CO2 and O2 levels by allowing too much CO2 to be “dumped”, and optimized CO2 levels is actually an important part of our O2, CO2 regulation system. NO from Nasal breathing as mentioned above also allows the lungs to absorb more O2 than mouth breathing, while helping maintain CO2 levels.
Breathe cleaner air: The nose also contains many fine hairs that work as a first stage filter, filtering our particles, including dust and microbes. So think of the nose as your personal “air cleaner”.
Tools I use: To help me “train” for nasal breathing, I have a number of solutions that I incorporate into my daily life.
1. Every evening I like to have a hot shower or bath, pre-steaming the washroom. I also will either fire up my air diffuser with eucalyptus, or if having a magnesium bath, I'll add a couple drops of eucalyptus to the water.
2. Nasal Irrigation: I like to use a Neti pot with a saline solution. I don’t use every day as I think you probably should not use it every day, but on average I use it 3, and sometimes 4 days a week.
3. Saline spray: Every night after my shower of mineral bath, I use a spray in each nostril from a saline bottle. Unlike the Neti pot above this isn’t meant to clean out the passage ways, as much as just soften them.
4. Next thing I do is use Nasal Strips. These have been a real game changer in my breathing life, from sleep, to meditation, to morning walks, yoga, and even exercise. The nasal strips literally make me feel like I’m getting double the air intake through my nose.
5. Mouth taping: This one can somewhat freak people out, which is HIGHLY unwarranted. But mouth taping is also the best thing I have done in combination with the strips. This forces me to breathe through my nose. Of course, START OUT SMART. I first used this in the evenings while AWAKE, watching TV or typing, etc., Then I used it for meditation, light yoga, morning walks, to get used to it. Then once I was used to it, I then moved to using it for sleep. Obviously make sure that you can breathe through your nose before sleeping with this, by following my solutions above.
>>>> Insider tip: While practicing mouth breathing, pay attention to your jaw, I tend to even this day to tense my jaw often, and apply more pressure than needed. Make sure to really focus on keeping your lips softly closed, and the jaw loose.
What are your thoughts? Are you a mouth breather? Have you tried mouth taping or nasal strips? Are you going to try? If you practice nasal breathing consistently, what changes have you noticed? Let me know below.