Breathing Disordered Sleep And Its Effect on Your Health
By Candace Bruno
One of the primary needs for the body is oxygen, and without it the body can’t continue living. The body will do anything it needs to take that last breath to nourish cells with oxygen, and this even means disrupting sleep or changing its method of breathing. When a person gets sick, they often get congested and no longer can breathe through the nose. Since breathing through the nose becomes difficult, the person switches to breathing through their mouth. Unfortunately, this style of breathing through the mouth is not beneficial for overall body health because it is lacking the benefits of nasal breathing.
When we breathe through the nose, the air is warmed and cleansed as there are hairs that filter the dirty air before it fully enters the body. This is not present when breathing through the mouth, and instead, the dirty air just goes straight back to the tonsils leaving them to filter all the dirt and allergens. In addition, nasal breathing passes the air through the sinuses which releases nitric acid: a potent vasodilator which allows better gas exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide at the cellular level. A vasodilator is something that enlarges the size of the blood vessels. Nitric oxide also serves as an antimicrobial to clean the air.
Due to allergens in the air, restrictions of the tongue, and processing of foods, people have become more predisposed to mouth breathing due to the increase in inflammation in the body and the growth and development changes that are occurring. Many people breathe through their mouths during the day and many breathe through their mouths at night.
There are three different stages of sleep—light sleep, deep sleep, and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Each sleep cycle is about 90 minutes. Deep sleep is important for hormone and restoring the body while REM sleep is important for restoring the brain. When adequate time in the deep and REM phases of sleep is not acquired, the body starts to suffer deficits as error upon error build up, and the body moves toward a chronic inflammatory state. This can set the stage for chronic disease.
The body is meant to be able to repair itself. However, when it becomes taxed with toxins from chemicals and stressful life experiences, without having the reparative stages it needs, it can no longer handle the burden and the ability to heal itself no longer exists. By addressing dysfunctional breathing and allowing the body to be able to oxygenate and sleep well, the entire health of a person changes. Chronic fatigue, lack of attention, and brain fog can be eliminated. There are ways to help change negative breathing patterns so that airway distress is not a problem. When breathing well, the body can finally start to sleep well which allows the person to feel well.
Finding a solution to an airway in distress is possible. The first and most important part is making sure that breathing through the nose is possible. Helpful tips include:
- Irrigating your nose twice daily with a sinus rinse to clean out all bacteria, viruses and allergies
- Using a natural decongestant five times daily
- Keeping your nostrils open and unrestricted by using a dilator
- Reducing stress by using an app that brings the focus to your breathing style
- Ensuring your lips stay closed at night by putting a small piece of micropore tape vertically over the mouth
After it has been determined that nasal breathing is achievable, then it’s time to see if the dimensions of the mouth can be changed to allow more room in the “box” for the tongue. Well-trained dentists can make appliances that make more room in the mouth. They can also help guide a person to other practitioners if there is a need for changes to the dimension of the mouth. Some dentists even have a laser that allows a procedure where the soft palate tissue is tightened and opens up the air hole in the back of the throat.
Feeling better may take a lifestyle change, but nothing
tastes as good as feeling well feels.
Candace Bruno, DMD, is a holistic dentist in Austin who believes that in order to treat a patient appropriately, all systems involved need to be taken into consideration. For more information, visit BrunoDentistry.com.