Quality sleep is critical for optimal health. Unfortunatley many people suffer from inadequate sleep.
Worse, those that do aim to improve their sleep find that the conventional tips around improving sleep simply don't work.
If you have tried the basics and you have worked through my own sleep tips (you can access these free tips HERE) then maybe it's time to look at some more unconventional methods to help with your sleep.
The following tips are brought to you by Patrick McKeown. Patrick is an author, researcher and breathing coach for sleep, anxiety and breathing pattern disorders.
He completed his clinical training in the Buteyko Breathing Method at the Buteyko Clinic in Moscow in 2002 and has since authored eight books on the subject of sleep & breathing, including Close Your Mouth, Always Breathe Correctly and Sleep with Buteyko.
Below Patrick explains how the simple act of taping your mouth at night can help improve sleep quality, reduce snoring and improve dental health.
He shares his stop tips to boost relaxation at night. The one sleeping position you need to avoid to decrease sleep apnoea and snoring, and a quick and easy nose unblocking technique to use if you are going to bed congested.
The importance of nose breathing is vital for a good nights sleep. However it's often overlooked by those aiming to improve their sleep quality.
Below I have covered my top suggestions to improve sleep-disordered breathing conditions such as fatigue, insomnia, snoring and sleep apnoea. But first, please view my TedX talk titled Shut your Mouth and Change your Life:
You can do this while watching some light television or relaxing in bed.
Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your tummy. Gently soften your breathing to create a slight need for air.
Continue with this exercise for a period of approximately 15 minutes. Not only is it an excellent way to help with sleep-disordered breathing, it also helps you relax and fall asleep easier.
Although alcohol can send you off to sleep quicker, it results in poor quality sleep and waking in the middle of the night. Eating too late at night creates similar problems as the body spends considerable energy digesting food while in a state of semi relaxation;
Sleeping on your back is proven to significantly increase both snoring and sleep apnoea.
It is vital to breathe through your nose during sleep.
You can tell if you have been breathing through your mouth at night as you will wake up with a dry mouth (and most likely smelly breath – mouth breathers have a higher level of gum disease and teeth cavities than nasal breathers!)
Your mouth should be naturally moist when you wake up in the morning; nasal breathing ensures this.
If you have a tendency to mouth-breathe during the night it is important to apply the guidelines on taping the mouth below.
Taping the mouth at night initially may seem like a scary prospect but it has been used to great success in Buteyko Breathing clinics around the world and does not take long to acclimatise to.
If you struggle to keep your mouth closed at night, placing a short length of Lip Seal Tape or a specially designed Somnifix strip across your mouth before you go to sleep is an excellent way to eliminate sleep disordered breathing and encourage permanent nasal breathing.
I have no doubt that the single best thing I ever did to improve my sleep was to tape my mouth at night.
About Lip Seal Tape:
It’s likely that the tape will fall off during the first couple of nights if you’re used to breathing through your mouth. However, within a few days, the tape will remain in place as your body re-learns to nasal breathe at night. It may well be the best night sleep that you have ever experienced.
Please note: this method is not suitable for children under five-years-old. Any child taping their mouth at night must be able to remove the tape if they feel the need to. If during the night you find it difficult to breathe while using the tape then gently reduce your breathing until you feel comfortable.
Try not to remove the tape, as you will likely revert to mouth-breathing during sleep which will only make your symptoms worse.
Important: do not use tape at night if you are feeling nauseous or have been heavily drinking.
If your nose is partially blocked before going to bed then first clear your nose using the nose unblocking exercise.
You can see how to do this in the video below:
If you are wearing tape at night, your nose will never become completely blocked. This is because nasal breathing increases carbon dioxide levels in the blood and dilates the nasal passages.
However, if you breathe heavily during the night while wearing the tape, your nose may partially block.
This is the body’s defence mechanism to prevent over-breathing and helps to resolve the issue by reducing air intake and increasing carbon dioxide levels, unblocking the nose.
If you continue to over-breathe, your nose will become partially blocked again, and the pattern will repeat itself.
Remember: your nose will only become completely blocked when you switch to mouth breathing.
As outlined in Patricks videos and books, nose breathing is crucial for quality sleep and health.
Patrick also states the importance of nose breathing in children:
Persistent mouth breathing during childhood increases the risk of lifelong sleep apnea as it alters the shape of the jaws and airways.
For more information on nose breathing and the Buteyko Breathing Method please check out these resources:
For more information on optimising sleep, be sure to check out my own FREE sound asleep tips HERE.
And for more of my blogs and resources on sleep, click HERE
This blog post was written by Alex Fergus. Alex is a ISSN Sports Nutrition Specialist, Fitness Professional and certified Superhuman Coach who continues to expand his knowledge base and help people across the world with their health and wellness. Alex is recognized as the National Record Holder in Powerlifting and Indoor Rowing and has earned the title of the Australian National Natural Bodybuilding Champion. Having worked as a health coach and personal trainer for over a decade, Alex now researches all things health and wellness and shares his findings on this blog. Learn more about Alex's Credentials HERE.
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