Inhaling AND exhaling through the nose at rest, sleep, and during exercise allows for many benefits:
- Because the nose is significantly smaller than the mouth, the nose provides more resistance to airflow than the mouth when it comes to breathing. This results in greater oxygen uptake in the blood. More oxygen in the blood results in more oxygen in your organs, tissues, and cells. Slower exhalations through the nose allows for greater extraction of oxygen by the lungs and an optimal exchange of carbon dioxide which helps to maintain blood pH.
- Due to the resistance of the airflow, air enters the nose at a slower rate, allowing for slower and deeper breathing which engages the diaphragm and calms the mind and body.
- The nose is an integral part of your body’s immune system and is a first line of defence against pathogens. The nose both filters and warms the air before it gets to the lungs. The nose is lined with mucus and protective hairs (known as cilia) which trap small particles, viruses, bacteria, dust, and dirt before they can enter your body.
- Glands in your nose and throat produce approximately one to two quarts of mucus each day. The mucus in the nasal cavity keeps the airways moist and helps to prevent dehydration. Even just exhaling through the mouth causes over 40% more water lost, along with the loss of heat, leading to inflammation, stuffiness, and dehydration.
- Nasal breathing helps to prevent nasal congestion, which in turn makes breathing through the nose easier. It may seem counterintuitive to breathe through your nose if your nose is blocked, but nostril breathing helps to keep the airways clear.
- Air inhaled through the nose passes over the nasal mucosa which stimulates reflex nerves and helps to control respiratory rate. This system is bypassed when breathing through the mouth.
- The nasal cavity houses olfactory epithelium, which contain smell receptors which send signals along the olfactory nerve to the olfactory bulb, These signals are then interpreted by your brain – the hypothalamus specifically – which is linked to automatic functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, appetite, and thirst.
- Nitric Oxide (NO), a vasodilator gas (meaning it relaxes the inner muscles of your blood vessels), is produced in the paranasal sinuses during nasal breathing. NO is one of the most important molecules for blood vessel health – it causes the vessels to widen and so increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure.
- Nasal breathing improves vagal tone. The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve, and it carries signals from the digestive system and organs to the brain and vice versa. The vagus nerve represents the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system overseeing control of the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. Vagal tone is the measure of the strength or weakness of the vagus nerve.
If you habitually breathe through your mouth during the day, while you sleep, or while you exercise, you would greatly benefit from breath retraining. Book a consultation today to change the way you breathe!