Everyone needs a healthy sleep to function properly. However, snoring and sleep apnea can significantly disrupt your sleep and have consequences for your health and well-being. Snoring means breathing heavily and noisily, with a blocked nose or other narrowing in the upper respiratory tract. With sleep apnea, you involuntarily stop breathing. After each breathing stop you wake up partially and start gasping for air.
Breathing too much
There are various symptoms that indicate that you breathe too heavily and through your mouth at night. These symptoms are not just snoring or sleep apnea, but also: poor sleep, asthma symptoms (especially between 3:00 and 5:00 am), having to urinate at night, dry mouth, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath or a blocked nose, waking up feeling tired. You may experience some or perhaps all of them yourself.
In recent decades, the Buteyko method has helped many people to control their snoring and sleep apnea. Breathing problems can be significantly reduced by nasal breathing, reduction of breath volume and proper sleeping position. This video by Buteyko expert Patrick McKeown shows how sleep apnea develops.
From light snoring to firm sleep apnea
There is a sliding scale from light snoring to heavy sleep apnea: what are the consequences and health risks?
Disadvantages of mouth breathing
While breathing through the mouth, you inhale significantly more air than you would with nasal breathing. This heavy breathing has adverse effects. The negative pressure in the upper respiratory tract increases which narrows the airway. (This is comparable, for example, to what happens when you suck hard through a ride.) Furthermore, overbreathing through the mouth makes the respiratory tract lose heat and moisture. The airways cool down and dry out, causing inflammatory reactions and further narrowing of the respiratory tract. In short, when you breathe through your mouth at night, the airways become more inflamed and narrowed. In the morning, you feel this in your throat, often as a ‘raw’ feeling. The combination of high breathing volume and narrower airways is a recipe for obstructive sleep apnea.
It is crucial to start breathing through the nose at night. When you start with the Buteyko method, you will do a number of breathing exercises during the day, and you make sure that your lips remain closed at night. As you perform the exercises for a longer period of time, your breathing becomes lighter and calmer at day and night times. This breathing pattern improves airflow through the respiratory tract. Furthermore, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which makes you sleep deeper and better.
With the Buteyko breathing exercises the breathing volume gradually reduces. This is going to solve the problem of negative pressure in the upper respiratory tract. In addition to the exercises we recommend the use of mouth tape and to sleep in side position, as lying on your back leads to a higher breathing frequency and severity of the respiratory abnormalities.
You can learn the Buteyko method in an individual course, with meetings live or online (by video calling), or with a combination of the two. At our office in Hoofddorp, the sessions will take place in compliance with all Corona measures.
How is your breathing now?
Buteyko has developed a simple test: measuring the Control Pause. This test is explained here.
Do you suffer from snoring or sleep apnea?
Please feel free to contact us and request a free consultation. Or read more about out the content of the Buteyko course and how to sign up.