Do you have trouble sleeping? Angering your partner with your persistent snoring? Or are you the one on the receiving end of it? Sleep is one of the most necessary human functions and yet we can struggle to have a good night’s rest. Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemies: late nights, caffeine, or tapping away on our mobiles before bed - we know it's bad and yet we do it anyway! Tut tut...
But even when we do eventually build up the inner resistance to rid ourselves of these unhelpful and arbitrary habits, we still can struggle with sleep and it's FRUSTRATING. We all want better sleep but sometimes the answers aren't there. Or so you think.
Let's go back. WAYYY back. Our ancestors used to be superhuman. No seriously! The great poet Homer around the 8th century B.C. describes sponge fishermen tying themselves to rocks and diving down over 100 meters to cut sponges from the seafloor. This underwater supernatural feat is trailed throughout history and can still be found to this day. James Nestor, the incredible journalist, and author wrote in his book ‘DEEP’ of the Ama; a group of freediving women who go to incredible depths in the ocean daily.
So what does this have to do with sleep? Well, I'm not telling you to jump in the water for a good night's kip! But as humans, we don’t know how to optimize our breathing anymore. We got lazy. We’ve forgotten the long-lost art of breathing. Something our ancestors unlocked many years ago and used to hold their breaths to free dive to the ocean's seabed.
Let me ask a question:
Do you breathe through your nose or your mouth?
Your nose is designed to help you breathe safely and optimally. During nasal breathing, your nose warms, filters, and moisturizes the air inhaled making it easier for your lungs to use. Ben Greenfield estimates in his book ‘Boundless’ that our nose hairs protect us from ingesting over 20 billion particles of foreign matter each day.
It also improves oxygen circulation levels by producing Nitric Oxide which helps expand blood vessels. This can improve athletic performance, reduce stress/ anxiety, and the holy grail... Improve our beloved sleep.
Here are some other benefits that have been connected to nasal breathing:
Reduces risk of bad breath
Reduces risk of tooth decay
Supports mouth and tooth formation
Improve lung volume
Slows breathing rate down
Lowers risk of high blood pressure
Lowers risk of allergies
Aids the immune system
Engages and strengthens the diaphragm
Lowers the risk of snoring
Lowers the risk of sleep apnea
“Nasal respiration provides the most efficient mechanism for introducing oxygen into the lungs and body for overall health” - Dr Jefferson of the General Dentistry Advisory Board
There's no denying the positive effects of nasal breathing however it's always important to pay attention to what your body is telling you. In some situations, you may be prevented from nasal breathing by congestion, blockages, small nostrils, or a deviated septum. We recommend consulting a medical professional for help if you’re suffering from structural issues such as a deviated septum.
The best way to breathe
Breathing experts recommend people practice nasal diaphragmatic breathing (Belly breathing). This involves breathing in through the nose gently, fully engaging the diaphragm causing it to contract which raises the ribcage and allows the lungs to expand fully. This is the fundamental method that allowed our ancestors to dive deep into the world’s ocean and what you’ll use to finally train yourself to better Zzzzzz.
How to improve your breathing
Now breathing most of the time is unconscious, an involuntary function that doesn’t get much thought. We just do it. The respiratory centre and our muscle memory take care of everything for us. So how are you expected to control your breathing when unconscious in dreamland? Well, you can’t, not exactly at least... It's more about regularly changing your breathing daily while awake to reprogram the body's natural breathing pattern to nasal diaphragmatic breathing.
So the key to all of this is... AWARENESS. Bring attention to your breathing throughout your day, take part in meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, even singing regularly improves breathing habits. Get familiar with your breath as much as possible and add breathing exercises into your daily routine. This daily practice will improve the sensation of breathing and strengthen the respiratory muscles.
Below I've linked some of the most useful techniques to improve your breathing, along with a useful video.
1. ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING
This is a common technique used in yoga. It requires you to close one nostril with your finger and then inhale, hold and exhale through the opposite nostril where the air is free to flow through. This is then alternated with the opposite nostril.
To try alternate nostril breathing follow the link below!
2. BREATH OF FIRE
This technique is used in kundalini yoga. It involves strong, quick bursts of breath consecutively, finding a nice consistent rhythm throughout. Think of it like a dog panting, however, it's breathing through the nose instead of the mouth. The technique may take some practice at first but is known to be extremely helpful with improving concentration once mastered.
To try breath of fire follow the link below!
Additional tips for better sleep
Consider these tips to further improve your breathing while asleep:
Adjusting sleeping position
Use a pillow to elevate your head and place a pillow in between your legs to keep your spine aligned which keeps your airways open, allowing you to breathe without any obstructions.
Use a pillow to elevate your head and bend your knees, placing a pillow under your knees. This again keeps the spine aligned, however, sleeping on your back can result in your tongue blocking the breathing tube. For this reason, we recommend sleeping on the side more than back sleeping, for a less disruptive sleep.
Using mouth tape gently promotes breathing through the nose by comfortably keeping your mouth closed during sleep. There are specific products designed for this however most sports and surgical tapes use non-toxic, easy-to-remove materials also.
To start it is recommended to apply a small amount of tape to the centre of your closed lips during the day for 10 minutes to get used to the sensation. Once you’re comfortable with the tape applied and you don’t feel any difficulties breathing. Apply the tape just before bed to induce nasal breathing all through the night.
Before attempting this method, consult a medical professional or your dentist first, to see if they recommend trying it. People who struggle with nasal breathing due to obstruction or structural damage won’t benefit from this method and it may be a hindrance to the quality of sleep.
So now you know, with a few natural fixes and lifestyle changes, you can improve your sleep permanently. Which is what we at Rest Space are all about. It’s no secret we’re strong advocates of sleeping and its staggering advantages on work productivity. This is why we want you and your employees to improve your sleeping habits tenfold. And what better way to practice everything you’ve learnt than in our state of art product ‘The Everest’. Your own private ventilated space, with installed Bluetooth speakers and noise reduction from the outside world. Allowing you to fully immerse yourself in your well-being and sleep.
We've created the best space to rest.
If you’re interested in investing in a Rest Space for your workplace. Get in touch to find out more!