Being able to breathe properly allows us to inhale sufficient oxygen for our cells in the body to function at an optimal level. It’s amazing to breathe through one’s nose without obstruction – a luxury many people lack today. Statistics reveal that 20 million Americans have temporary nasal obstruction, and every fourth person experiences nasal congestion that triggers snoring and sneezing.
Many people use mouth breathing to cope with nasal breathing issues, a condition considered unhealthy by healthcare practitioners. The natural way to inhale air decelerates breathing and expands lung volume to increase oxygen uptake and make your diaphragm work properly. The lungs help filter pollution and prevent harmful substances from entering blood vessels that could damage your health in the long run. Hence it’s important to focus on improving breathing through your nose.
How can you manage obstructions and improve nasal breathing? Here are some helpful tips:
- Get a nose job
Breathing disorders such as obstructive pulmonary disorder (OPD) can sometimes obstruct your nasal airway and force you to breathe through your mouth. A solution to this problem is to get a nose job. While some people undergo this procedure to enhance their facial appearance, it can also be carried out to overcome breathing issues. Contact a skilled rhinoplasty surgeon and discuss your case before taking a nosedive. It’s estimated that 350,000+ rhinoplasty surgeries take place in the US annually.
- Try nasal unblocking
Nasal unblocking involves pinching the nose and walking a few paces while holding your breath. The trick is to focus on using your nose instead of your mouth to breathe. Close your mouth if it helps you focus. This exercise is ideal for compulsive mouth-breathers who struggle with nasal breathing.
- Ocean breath
Also called ujjayi, oceanic breathing exercises are practiced in yoga in which you constrict the throat muscles of the glottis. The “ocean breath” involves breathing through your nose and squeezing your throat to make a snoring sound. This sound is created because of the tightening of the glottis during inhalation and exhalation. And it resembles the sound of the ocean, hence the name.
- Try taping your mouth shut
It’s common for people to engage in mouth breathing while sleeping because of sinuses and blocked nostrils. Experts state that mouth-breathers are more vulnerable to sleep disorders, and this habit needs to go away. Just take a 3m micropore tape and put a small piece of it vertically over your mouth to avoid mouth breathing. It may take a few days for this method to work, but eventually, your body will teach itself how to use nasal breathing over mouth breathing. Nowadays, several companies sell adhesive mouth strips for those trying to tape their mouths shut at night. But any product will do just fine as long as it prevents you from mouth breathing.
- Try taking some steam
Taking a shower before bedtime can also help get some relief from nasal breathing problems. The steam created by hot water can help loosen nasal congestion for a while and make it easier to breathe. Using a humidifier can also have a similar effect on the mucus stuck in your sinuses. If there’s a lot of congestion, consider taking some steam to relieve yourself of the misery.
- Use a pillow
Your sinuses can get blocked because of fluid buildup in your head, and you can overcome this problem simply by using a fluffy and comfy pillow. A pillow will ensure your body and head stays upright; you won’t snore when sleeping in a breathing-friendly position. There are pillows designed to facilitate better sleep and breathing, so be sure to get yourself one of those. And while you’re at it, sprinkle some essential oils that help improve breathing and sleep. Lavender can work wonders in this regard.
- Massage your sinuses
You can reduce fluid buildup in your sinuses by massaging them properly before bedtime. Viral and bacterial infections or allergies can lead to blocked sinuses and obstruct your nasal airways. Massaging helps loosen up the blockage temporarily and allows some air to flow. Start by rubbing your index finger along your brow, nose, eyes, and cheekbones. Apply gentle pressure to clear them. This practice will help you sleep soundly and breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.
- Try nadishodhana
Nadishodhana, or subtle energy-clearing breathing exercise, is another yoga technique to help you improve nasal breathing. In simple terms, it’s alternate-nostril breathing and is akin to another yoga practice called anulom vilom, in which you breathe from one nostril while holding the other closed. It’s a great mindful exercise to boost your lung function. Just grab your nose gently by placing your thumb on the right nostril and your index finger on your left nostril. Now, breathe through one nostril while pressing the other closed. Just avoid practicing it when you are suffering from hypertension.
- Try diaphragm breathing
This exercise also goes by other names, such as belly and abdominal breathing. It involves taking deep breaths to fill your stomach with as much air as possible. Doing so helps increase your oxygen intake, slow down your breathing, and regulate your heart rate. This mindful exercise is associated with reduced stress levels and empowering nasal breathing. Here’s how you do it:
- Close your mouth by using your palm
- Put one hand on your belly and one on your chest
- Fill your stomach with air and ensure your chest stays still
- Exhale slowly by pursing your lips, and then repeat this procedure
- Breath of fire
This is another yoga practice you can use to promote nasal breathing. Here’s how it’s done:
- Sit upright
- Relax your shoulders
- Inhale passively with your nose
- Then exhale forcefully without stopping
- Keep doing that by slowly increasing your pace
Studies suggest that more than 50% of Americans are mouth-breathers. Mouth breathing isn’t as healthy as nose breathing as it doesn’t allow maximum oxygen intake through the lungs and into the bloodstream. Fortunately, you can use simple exercises to help you temporarily clear your sinuses and breathe through your nose instead of your mouth. Consider booking an appointment with a rhinoplasty surgeon for major nasal breathing problems. These tips can help you stop breathing from your mouth, alleviate symptoms associated with nasal congestion, and enjoy a good night’s sleep every night.