hanging how you breathe is vital to relieving snoring and sleep apnea. It's not unusual to see reduced snoring in the first week of breath training. Given the seriousness of sleep apnea, several weeks or months of breath work may be required. As always, let's start with the science of breathing to understand this better.
The Science of Breathing, Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Snoring is the result of large volumes of air passing through a small opening, the throat or nose. Skin in the upper part of the throat becomes soft and flabby as we age. It's this soft skin that vibrates causing the snoring sound.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) finds the soft skin of the throat blocking the throat and airflow to the lungs. Facial and oral development problems may contribute to this problem as well.
People who snore or have OSA may also suffer from chronic nasal congestion, the result of a hyperactive immune system, forcing larger volumes of air through an open mouth. The immune system becomes hyperactive with low blood carbon dioxide levels.
The Science of Breathing and Central Sleep Apnea
Central Sleep Apnea happens when the medulla oblongata, the breathing center of the brain, stops sending the “breathe signal” to the breathing muscles, resulting in a dangerous breathing pause. We know at the time the medulla stops the breathing signals body carbon dioxide levels have become dangerously low. The medulla's job is to maintain adequate carbon dioxide levels, keeping us alive.
How you breathe impacts carbon dioxide levels in the body. Big breaths blow off much needed carbon dioxide. Reducing the volume of air coming in with each inhale reduces the amount of carbon dioxide being blown off with each exhale.
How The Essential Breath™ Program Relieves Snoring and Sleep Apnea
During the Essential Breath™ program, we address the two key factors that enable snoring and sleep apnea. We work to reduce the volume of air breathed and normalize body carbon dioxide levels. Let's take a look at each step of the Essential Breath™ program and see how it addresses snoring and sleep apnea.
Step 1: Breathing Mechanics
Air volume regulation starts with nose breathing all the time, especially when sleeping. Stand in front of a mirror with your mouth open and see how much larger the mouth is versus the nostrils. Breathing through the nose reduces the volume of air going through the throat and therefore reduces snoring.
Smaller volumes of air inhaled means smaller volumes of air being exhaled. Smaller exhales result in less carbon dioxide being blown off and more being retained in the body.
At the start of the Essential Breath™ program we address mouth breathing and anything preventing it from happening, such as nasal congestion. There are several techniques employed and it's not unusual to find a mouth breather breathing through their nose, day and night, within a few hours to a few days of learning these techniques.
Step 2: Retain Vital Body Gases
Optimal levels of body carbon dioxide are essential to life, health, snoring and sleep apnea. Unfortunately and over time, the medulla oblongata, the breathing center of the brain, becomes sensitive to normal carbon dioxide levels, causing big breaths to blow more of it off.
Carbon dioxide manages the hyperactivity of the immune system. It also reduces inflammation, swelling and mucus production in the nose. If the nose is clear there's a better chance mouth breathing, and the associated high volumes of inhaled air, can be stopped.
Keeping carbon dioxide levels up is essential for those that suffer from Central Sleep Apnea. Preventing big exhales maintains safe body carbon dioxide levels, which prevents the medulla from causing the dangerous breathing pause.
Step 2 of the Essential Breath™ program is designed to reassure the medulla that higher levels of carbon dioxide are OK. Breathing techniques are employed that increase carbon dioxide levels slowly over several weeks, all the while adjusting the medulla's sensitivity to it.
Step 3: Adjust Breathing Volume
The most important element of the Essential Breath™ program for snoring and sleep apnea is normalizing breathing volume. This is essential to preventing snoring, less air going through the throat, and the loss of valuable carbon dioxide.
In Step 3 of the Essential Breath™ program we work on the medulla, teaching it the correct volume of air to breathe while retaining more and more carbon dioxide. This adjustment period can last several weeks to several months depending on a number of factors.
The 3 step process behind the Essential Breath™ program is designed to employ the science of breathing to address the root cause of snoring and sleep apnea – high breathing volume and the loss of body carbon dioxide. Reduced breathing volume usually stops the vibration, the snoring noise, in the throat, while retaining more carbon dioxide. More carbon dioxide calms the hyperactive immune system and keeps the breathing signals coming from the medulla to the breathing muscles. Yes, how you breathe really matters, especially if you snore or have sleep apnea.