Home Personal Psychology Sleeping/Dreaming Dorveille and Breath: Two Sleep-Enhancing Strategies

Dorveille and Breath: Two Sleep-Enhancing Strategies

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There are several other changes we can make. Some occur in the bed. We can sleep on a different side or on either our belly or our back. We grab (or set aside) a long side pillow. If we have one of the fancy new adjustable beds, then (depending on the bed) we might change the shape, degree of softness, or level of warmth.

There is one other change to be mentioned that leads us to review of the second book about breath. If we possess some device that aides breathing, then we might make use of it for the first time or set it aside between segments. The change might allow us to begin breathing in an easier manner (through both our mouth and nose) or help us begin to breathe exclusively through our nose. We begin (or cease) using a device that opens up our throat (to reduce snoring). Or we shift our position in bed to ease breathing or increase nose breathing. These are all changes that address the issue to which we now turn our attention.

Breath

While multiple benefits might be derived from enjoying two or more segments of sleep during the night, it is also apparent that there can be too much of a good thing. Frequently interrupted sleep is not healthy—and a fitful night of sleep certainly is not associated with either productivity or a calm demeaner during daytime hours. While there are many reasons why sleep can be frequently disrupted, one of the primary culprits is the failure to take in adequate oxygen. When our breathing is disrupted, our sleep itself is disrupted. This interplay between sleep and breath is one of the main focal points in James Nestor’s (2020) book about breathing. More specifically, the culprit is identified by Nestor as breathing through one’s mouth rather than through one’s nose.

Nose breathing: The benefits

Nestor first notes that we human beings are the worst breathers in the animal kingdom. Every other species breathes through their nose. Unlike other species, we are inclined to breathe through our mouth rather than our nose. Much of the reason for our failure to breathe through our nose comes from evolutionary changes associated with shifts in the location of our larynx (so that we might make effective use of language). Our ability to breathe correctly is sacrificed on behalf of our ability to be articulate in our use of language.

Nestor offers great praise for the act of breathing through one’s nose. He points to multiple cultures in which nose breathing is emphasized—where even children are taught how to breathe correctly through their nose. Many benefits derive from nose breathing (in contrast to mouth breathing). First, nose breathing serves some rather mundane functions. Hairs in one’s nose, for instance, help to clean the incoming air and the nose gently warms the incoming air on a cold day before it enters our lungs. Second, nose breathing can yield even more complex benefits that impact broader biological functioning. Nestor (2020, p. 50) cites the research findings of a colleague regarding the biochemical impact of nasal breathing:

One of the many benefits [of nasal breathing] is that the sinuses release a huge boost of nitric oxide, a molecule that plays an essential role in increasing circulation and delivering oxygen into cells. Immune function, weight, circulation, mood, and sexual functioning can all be heavily influenced by the amount of nitric oxide in the body. (The popular erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil, known by the commercial name Viagra, works by releasing nitric oxide into the bloodstream, which opens the capillaries in the genitals and elsewhere.) Nasal breathing alone can boost nitric oxide sixfold, which is one of the reasons we can absorb about 18 percent more oxygen than by just breathing through the mouth.

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