common concern my clients have is sleep problems. About 87% of them list a sleep problem of one sort or another on their new client forms. For many, the problem is chronic. Given the numbers are so high, is it possible that how you breathe impacts sleep quality? Let's take a look at the data and the science of breathing.
The Impact of Poor Sleep Quality
According the the CDC, Americans suffer with sleep quality issues. They estimate 50-70 million US adults have a sleep or wakefulness disorder. The CDC notes that 35% of the US population sleeps less than seven hours, 38% fall asleep unintentionally during the day and almost 5% fall asleep while driving. The Department of Transportation estimates there are over 1500 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injures due to car crashes where the operator was drowsy or fell asleep.
The CDC also suggests poor quality sleep is impacting our ability to function during the day. In a study they did of adults 20 years of age or older, those surveyed said they had the following problems:
Sleep Hygiene Tips
Sleep experts suggest a wide variety of tips to increase the quality of sleep including:
But many of my clients say they have tried all these things but find they are still tired when they wake in the morning. Perhaps these tips don't address the root cause of poor quality sleep.
What Affects Sleep Quality?
Sleep quality can be affected by a number of things. The following are a list of reasons for poor quality sleep that are most likely related to how you breathe and may be correctable when you change how you breathe:
Sleep Quality May Depend On How You Breathe
The good news is that most of my clients find the first thing that improves as they change their breathing is they sleep better. There seems to be a correlation between how well they sleep and how they breathe. And there is a good reason for this based on the science of breathing.
How you breathe determines the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) found in the body. Breathing big breaths blows off CO2 when we exhale. Small breaths blow off small amounts of CO2. Research tells us that 90% of us are breathing incorrectly.
CO2 is nature's natural sedative. It quiets the mind by calming the brains neurons, allowing for a deeper sleep. CO2 is the body's dilator helping relieve asthma symptoms and opening nasal passages. CO2 even helps dilate the bladder and triggers a hormone that concentrates the urine, preventing the need to go to the bathroom many times a night.
Sleep problems are common occurrences in our western culture. Productivity losses, tired kids at school, vehicle and work accidents and not having the energy to do the things we want to do are the results of poor sleep.
But the science of breathing tells us that adequate carbon dioxide levels in our body may help us sleep better, wake refreshed and have the energy to do the things we enjoy. Carbon dioxide levels are determined by how we breathe.
If your sleep quality could use some improvement, you wake tired after hours of sleep, don't sleep much, can't concentrate or have brain fog, chances are good your breathing may be the problem. Yes, how you breathe really matters.