Developing the Habit of Nasal Breathing
Nasal breathing offers purification and respiratory benefits compared to mouth breathing. However, many unconsciously revert to using their mouth for air intake. With diligent practice of breath training techniques and lifestyle adjustments, nasal breathing can become an ingrained habit.
Understanding the Advantages of Nasal Breathing
The nose conditions incoming air in ways the mouth does not. The nostrils filter dust, allergens and pathogens from entering the airways. The inner nasal passages warm and humidify air to protect the delicate lung tissues. Nasal breathing may also boost production of nitric oxide, which opens blood vessels for improved circulation.
Mouth breathing bypasses these important functions, allowing unfiltered air to irritate the throat and lungs. It increases the risks for illness, allergies, sleep issues, and other problems. Training proper nasal technique ensures you receive the immune defenses and air conditioning benefits.
Developing Awareness of Current Breathing Habits
The first step is becoming more cognizant of your own breathing patterns. Many people mouth breathe out of habit without noticing. Pay attention to each breath in and out throughout the day. Identify instances where you unconsciously switch to mouth breathing.
Common examples include:
- Exercising or physical exertion
- Congested or obstructed nose
- Stress or anxiety
- Focusing intently on a task
Simply recognizing mouth breathing tendencies allows you to consciously revert back to nasal inhales and exhales. Place one hand on your abdomen and one on your chest to feel the breath enter your nose and expand your diaphragm.
Using Breath Training Exercises
Dedicate 5-10 minutes daily to practice breath training techniques designed to repattern faulty breathing habits:
- Alternate nostril breathing – Close one nostril, inhale through the open nostril, switch sides to exhale. Repeat.
- Belly breathing – Hand on belly, hand on chest. Inhale through nose into the stomach, chest should not move. Exhale through nose.
- Breath counting – Inhale for a count of 4, hold for 7, exhale for 8. Use belly breathing.
- Pursed lip breathing – Inhale through nose, exhale through lightly pursed lips to add airway resistance.
- Kapalabhati – Short, pulsed inhales and forceful exhales by engaging the abdomen to push out air.
Be patient and persistent with these exercises. Over time, they will reinforce proper nasal breathing technique. Yoga and breathwork classes can provide further guidance on beneficial breathing practices.
Optimizing Sleep Conditions for Nighttime Nasal Breathing
Many involuntarily mouth breathe during sleep. Help encourage nasal breathing at night with these tips:
- Sleep on your side which allows for easier air flow. Avoid sleeping on your back.
- Use pillows to prop your side-sleeping position and keep airways open.
- Raise the head your bed by 4-6 inches to use gravity.
- Consider wearing nasal strips or dilators to open nasal passages.
- Use a chinstrap or tape mouth closed (lips only) to deter mouth breathing.
- Keep bedroom humidity ideal between 30-50% to prevent dry nasal membranes.
Addressing any sleep disorders like sleep apnea is also key to ensure adequate nighttime nasal breathing. Consult a sleep specialist if needed.
Removing Impediments to Nasal Breathing
Determine if any factors are obstructing nasal airflow and take steps to alleviate them:
- Treat allergies – See an allergist to identify and avoid environmental triggers causing congestion. Antihistamines can reduce allergic swelling.
- Correct anatomical issues – ENT specialists can identify and fix structural problems like deviated septum, polyps, or enlarged turbinates.
- Clear nasal passages – Use steam, hydration, saline rinse or sprays to keep nasal membranes moist and mucus thin.
- Reduce irritants – Avoid smoke, pollution, dust, chemicals. Use air purifiers when possible.
- Keeping the nose clear and open day and night establishes optimal conditions for training nasal breathing habits.
Adopting Lifestyle Habits That Promote Nasal Breathing
Certain daily practices can incentive proper nasal breathing technique:
- Maintain upright posture, whether sitting at a desk or standing in line. Slouching collapses the airways.
- Exercise moderately to increase lung capacity and stimulate nitric oxide production through the nose.
- Stay hydrated to keep nasal tissues moisturized.
- Use humidifiers during dry conditions or seasons.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking which inflame nasal passages.
- Incorporate stress management techniques like yoga or meditation which emphasize nose breathing.
With consistency, these lifestyle adjustments become healthy lifelong habits supporting natural nasal breathing.
Using Biofeedback Devices and Seeking Expert Guidance
Technology tools provide biofeedback to help train optimal breathing patterns. Devices like Spire monitor your breathing and give cues to correct mouth breathing habits. Consult experts like respiratory therapists, myofunctional therapists, or certified breathing coaches for personalized advice and breath training. Work with healthcare providers like ENTs, allergists, and sleep doctors to remove any medical obstacles to nasal breathing.
Remaining Patient and Persistent
Re-patterning subconscious habits requires time and dedication. At first, you will need to actively think about nasal breathing throughout the day. With ongoing practice of breathing exercises, sleep adjustments, medical care if needed, and helpful lifestyle tweaks, nasal breathing will gradually become instinctual. Stay committed to regain the many forgotten benefits of breathing through your nose.
Q&A About Training Nasal Breathing
Q: How can I be more aware of my breathing habits?
A: Pay attention throughout the day and note when you mouth breathe. Place hands on chest and belly to feel breath.
Q: What are some good exercises to practice nasal breathing?
A: Alternate nostril breathing, breath counting, belly breathing, pursed lip breathing, and yoga exercises.
Q: What helps promote nasal breathing during sleep?
A: Side sleeping position, nasal strips/dilators, chin straps, ideal bedroom humidity between 30-50%.
Q: How can I clear a chronically congested nose?
A: See an ENT doctor or allergist to diagnose and treat underlying issues causing obstruction.
Q: What daily habits help train nose breathing?
A: Good posture, exercise, hydration, humidifiers, avoiding smoking/alcohol, stress management techniques.
With diligent awareness, practice of breath training techniques, optimized sleep conditions, and helpful lifestyle tweaks, nasal breathing can become an ingrained lifelong habit for overall respiratory health.