If you are a mouth breather and wondering if you should stop, the short answer is yes. Rather than mouth breathing, consider nasal breathing instead.
From lowering your blood pressure and increasing lung capacity to helping with sleep quality and aiding in avoiding dry mouth, nasal breathing offers many pros.
To learn more about the pros and cons of mouth breathing versus nasal breathing, continue reading our basic guide below, a part of our Breathwork series.
What is Nasal Breathing?
Nasal breathing simply refers to the act of breathing in and out of your nose instead of your mouth as a method of oxygen intake.
While human beings and most animals are meant to breathe through their noses when at a neutral state of being, people have grown accustomed to breathing from their mouths instead.
With many benefits to nose breathing and cons that come along with mouth breathing, it is important to understand how nasal breathing can affect your health, sleep patterns, and overall well-being.
What Happens When You Mouth Breathe in Your Sleep
One of the most noteworthy and sometimes obvious effects of mouth breathing occurs while we are sleeping.
Though many people claim that mouth breathing helps them fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, this type of breathing actually disrupts the sleep cycle and prevents meaningful REM sleep from being achieved.
Sleeping with your mouth open also encourages neck wrinkles as the jaw hangs limp and the chin pushes inward toward the body. It would be best if you were sleeping with your lips resting gently together and your jaw unclenched to avoid this.
When you sleep with your mouth open and mouth breathe, you also encourage a sore throat and a dry mouth. This is because the air that comes into your mouth is not being filtered and therefore contains more harmful toxins than air filtered by your nasal cavities and nose hairs.
The Pros of Nasal Breathing
There are many pros and benefits of nasal breathing that continue to be both studied and verified by health experts. From increased energy to better sleep, additional nasal breathing pros include:
- Minimizing the occurrence of dry mouth and sore throat
- Unrestricted sinuses
- Getting a higher quality intake of oxygen
- Receiving warm air rather than cold air into the lungs
- Receiving air that is filtered by the nasal cavity and nose hairs
- Reduced heart rate due to reduced breathing speeds
- Regulating the amount of air so that you don’t get too much or too little
- Keeps your nasal passages open
The Cons of Nasal Breathing
The only con of nasal breathing is that for some, it is difficult to be mindful enough to switch from automatic mouth breathing to considering where your oxygen intake and release comes from.
Once you get used to nose breathing, it will become automatic like mouth breathing used to be.
The Pros of Mouth Breathing
The pros of mouth breathing include only that large amounts of cool air enter the mouth, cooling down the body on hot days, while large amounts of hot air exit the mouth. This also helps to expel heat on days when the body is actively overheating.
Some may also find it a pro that they mouth breathe without considering their breathing techniques at all.
The Cons of Mouth Breathing
Mouth breathing is actually detrimental to the body and can have adverse side effects. From anxiety and fatigue to poor sleep, high blood pressure, and dry mouth, additional cons to mouth breathing include:
- Mouth breathing encourages over-breathing which means inhaling too many free radicals
- Creates a sore throat, especially when mouth breathing during sleep
- Can lead to clogged sinuses and weak nasal passages
- Tends to raise heart rate and create unnecessary subconscious stress
Nasal Breathing and Meditation Practice
A great way to start nasal breathing and leave mouth breathing behind is to start with a few nasal breathing exercises and meditations throughout the day. This will help you get used to the feeling of nose breathing without feeling like you need to keep it up all day long until you are ready.
To nasal breathe, do the following:
- Begin by blowing your nose and cleaning your passages
- Sit or lay in a comfortable position
- Close your eyes
- Exhale all of your hair
- Gently close your lips together
- Inhale through your nose while counting out 5 seconds in your head
- Exhale through your nose to the same count of 5
- Repeat 10 times or as needed
Stop Mouth Breathing to Improve Your Overall Health
When weighing the pros and cons of mouth breathing, it is clear that nasal breathing is superior for your health and general well-being.
Deciding to stop mouth breathing is a change that will improve your life for the better by closing your lips and breathing through your nose from now on.