Commando Steve Shares Sleep Hack For Massively Boosting Energy

"You would think that if you open your mouth you would breathe better, but actually the reverse happens."

You’ll die if you stop doing it, but how many of us actually stop to think about how we’re breathing? Unless you’re exercising or find yourself in a yoga or pilates studio, our attention is rarely wafting over our breath. And why would it? It’s essential.

But the way you breathe, or at least, where you inhale and exhale your breath, can have drastically different effects on your body. One man who has been keen to point this out recently is Commando Steve. The Australian personal trainer – real name Steve Willis – is someone who regularly pushes his body to the limit in the name of fitness.

Steve recently proposed a sleep challenge on his Instagram story, where he encouraged his audience to put tape over their mouth at night, to help encourage nasal breathing. Why? You might ask. Well, there are actually several reasons why we should aim to breathe through our nose, and our nose only, and to avoid mouth breathing.

Image Credit: @commandosteve

Commando Steve references the benefit in a separate story post, citing a post by Dr Steven Lin, a world-leading functional dentist. In his post, Dr Lin explains that we provide our body with nitric oxide when we breathe in through our nose: “Nasal breathing gives you access to this critical nutrient, while mouth breathing starves your body of it.”

Dr Lin says: “Nitric oxide signals to the cells in your arteries to soften and relax, an action that can greatly reduce blood pressure. The best way to access nitric oxide is to breathe slowly through the nose.”

“Breathing heavy causes blood vessels to constrict. This is one reason why mouth breathers are tired a lot of the time. There is less delivery of O2 (oxygen) in mouth breathing.”

James Nestor, author of Breath: The New Science Of A Lost Art, wanted to find out the effects different breathing techniques would have on his sleep. He conducted a study with the help of scientists at Stanford University, and, for the first experiment, plugged his nostrils so he would only be able to breathe through his mouth.

As CNN Health reports, Nestor said of the experiment, “We knew it wasn’t going to be good, because there’s a very firm scientific foundation showing all the deleterious effects of mouth breathing, from periodontal disease to metabolic disorders.”

After breathing through just his mouth for 10 days, “Nestor’s blood pressure rose 13 points,” CNN Health reports. “Measurements of heart rate variability showed his body was in a state of stress. His pulse went up, and he stumbled around in a mental fog.”

“He also snored for hours each night, developing obstructive sleep apnea. His blood oxygen levels dropped.”

You may now be trying to think about how you breathe at night when you go to sleep. Don’t worry if you do breathe through your mouth, it’s incredibly common, especially if you’re someone who suffers from allergies or other conditions that cause your nose to feel stuffy.

“When you lie down the blood vessels inside your nose fill up with blood,” Dr Steven Park, a surgeon with a specialty in sleep medicine told CNN Health.

“If you can’t breathe easily through your nose, you’re likely to open your mouth for air, which triggers a positive feedback loop.”

“You would think that if you open your mouth you would breathe better, but actually the reverse happens. Opening your jaw causes the tongue to slump backward, obstructing your airway.”

Dean Gladstone, a Bondi lifeguard and qualified Wim Hof and breathwork coach, told DMARGE nasal breathing can bring many benefits.

“Humans are meant to breathe through the nose most of the time and ideally should be nasally breathing at night,” Dean relates.

“Nasal breathing has immune benefits as well as being anti-viral, a big one at the moment. Nasal breathing is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system. This is where your body repairs itself, digestion occurs and many other things.”

“Mouth breathing is linked to the fight or flight response, so you can imagine this is not great for getting to sleep or staying asleep.”

Dean adds: “In a recent study carried out in America, heart attack survivors were found to be dysfunctional breathers, i.e. mouth breathers, upper chest breathers or those that suffered from sleep apnea.”

“While they might have survived their heart attack, the heart attack itself was linked to dysfunctional breathing, since it can add stress to any organ or system in the body.”

Dean confirms that people have been taping over their mouths for years to help aid with nasal breathing, and it’s something he does himself. However, he uses a product that doesn’t cover the entire lip area, “making it safe for all to use.”

“I recommend [mouth taping] for people that wake up sluggish or are getting up to go to the toilet lots in the night. This is linked to mouth breathing and not staying in deep sleep.”

So, if you’re a mouth breather, what else can you do to help encourage nasal breathing, other than putting some tape over your mouth in what could be considered an extreme course of action.

One thing you can do is avoid eating close to bedtime. You can also flush the nose with saltwater, which acts as a mild decongestant.

Dean also has thoughts around what one can do to help provide a better quality of sleep: “Nasal breathing, sleeping in a cool, airy room, trying to go to sleep at a similar time each night, avoid blue lights and screens for two hours before bed, sleep on your side, not your back, avoid alcohol and sugar, don’t eat late at night and try breathing exercises or meditation to help you relax.”

Dr Park from the aforementioned study does actually encourage the use of tape, although not in a kidnapped-like fashion where you can’t open your lips at all. “You just need a teeny little bit at the centre of your lips,” he explains.

“The point is not to inhibit airflow through your mouth, it’s to train your jaw to shut at night.”

In fact, there are multiple accounts on the internet of people attempting to try sleeping with their mouth taped shut, along with yet more research to suggest mouth taping can be used as a treatment for prolific snorers.

Interested? Maybe give Commando Steve’s challenge a go.

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