Summary: Breathing through our nose is an essential function of the respiratory system. Not only does it help us take in oxygen, but it offers several other benefits that we do not generally consider. From filtering air to promoting relaxation, breathing through your nose has many advantages that can improve overall health and wellbeing.
1. Filtering Air
Breathing through our nose can help filter the air we inhale. The nasal passages trap large particles such as pollen, dust, and bacteria, which are then humidified and warmed before entering the lungs. This process helps clear the air we breathe and protects our lungs from harmful particles that can cause infection. UNFILTERED air inhaled through the mouth allows these harmful particles to go straight to the lungs. Repeated exposure to this unfiltered air can easily cause lung infections or other respiratory diseases.
In addition, nasal breathing also plays a vital role in preventing allergies. When we inhale allergens like pollen or mold spores, the body releases histamine, causing typical allergy symptoms like congestion, sneezing, and itchy eyes. The nose’s filtering system works to prevent these allergens from reaching the lungs, consequently reducing allergy symptoms dramatically.
Nasal Breathing Summary:
- Filtration protects lungs from harmful particles.
- Trapping particle prevents allergies symptoms.
2. Promotes Relaxation
When we breathe through our nose, we activate the diaphragm, a muscle found beneath the lungs, which plays a crucial role in regulating the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is responsible for controlling involuntary functions in our body like heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. Breathing through the nose activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation and reduces stress levels. Studies show that nose breathing triggers relaxation responses in the brain and lowers cortisol levels, a hormone that causes stress, leading to decreased anxiety and an overall sense of calmness.
Nasal breathing is also useful during exercise. When we inhale through our nose, the air coming in gets a boost in moisture and temperature before reaching the lungs. This can also help lower stress levels and reduce the intensity of a workout. Mouth breathing can cause hyperventilation, which destabilizes cardiovascular function during physical activity, and this leads to a higher chance of injury.
Promotes Relaxation Summary:
- Activates diaphragm; promotes relaxation
- Lowers cortisol, decreases anxiety, and stress levels
- Useful during exercises
3. Improves Lung Capacity
Nasal breathing helps improve lung capacity. One of the primary functions of the nasal cavity is to regulate the volume of air that comes into the lungs. When we breathe through our mouth, the air we breathe goes directly into the lungs, leading to extra volume and pressure, causing shallow breathing. In contrast, breathing through the nose slows down and regulates the volume and pressure of air coming in, promoting a deep and even breath. This slow and steady breathing encourages relaxation and ensures proper oxygen intake into the body. Over time nasal breathing can significantly improve lung capacity, resulting in better physical health.
Breathing through the nose is particularly helpful for people with sleep apnea or asthma. The turbulent airflow of mouth breathing can cause irritation in the airways, leading to airway collapse and inflammation in those with asthma or other respiratory conditions. Nasal breathing provides a more controlled airflow, improving oxygen intake and reducing airway inflammation.
Improves Lung Capacity Summary:
- Regulate volume and pressure of air entering into lungs
- Encourages deep breath; improves physical health
- Helpful for those with sleep apnea or asthma.
4. Boosts Endurance and Performance
Nasal breathing can significantly boost endurance during exercise. When we breathe through our nose, oxygen delivered to the cells in our body is more extensive because it’s accompanied by carbon dioxide. This increased carbon dioxide allows hemoglobin to dissociate and provide more oxygen, which can help reduce fatigue, extend endurance, and improve overall performance. In contrast, mouth breathing contributes to hyperventilation and reduces carbon dioxide content, leading to a decline in performance.
For athletes, nasal breathing can prevent dehydration. Mouth breathing can lead to dehydration because the high airflow rate produces saliva evaporation and loss of body fluid. Nasal Breathing, on the other hand, helps to preserve moisture in the respiratory tract, reducing fluid loss, and promoting hydration.
Boosts Endurance and Performance Summary:
- Nasal breathing improves endurance during exercise
- Increased oxygen delivery
- Decreases fatigue and improves performance
5. Enhances Brain Function
Breathing through the nose is beneficial to brain function. Deep breathing through the nose can activate areas in the brain related to learning, memory, and emotion regulation. Studies show that slow nasal breathing increases alpha brain wave activity, which is responsible for relaxation, creativity, and overall well-being. In contrast, rapid, shallow mouth breathing increases beta brain wave activity, which leads to stress, anxiety, and poor cognitive function.
Nasal breathing can also improve sleep quality. Mouth breathing during sleep can cause snoring, dry mouth, and sleep apnea. Nasal breathing ensures a steady and controlled flow of air, reducing these disruptions, promoting deep and restful sleep.
Enhances Brain Function Summary:
- Activates areas in the brain related to learning, memory, and emotion regulation.
- Increases alpha brain wave activity; Relaxation, creativity, overall well-being.
- Nasal breathing can also improve sleep quality.
Breathing through your nose is essential for a healthy and happy life. The benefits of nasal breathing are numerous, ranging from improved air filtration, relaxation, improved lung capacity, and endurance. Additionally, nasal breathing enhances brain function, ultimately improving overall wellbeing. By consciously breathing through your nose and avoiding mouth breathing, it can lead to more profound and conscious breathing, reducing stress levels, increasing vitality, and promoting better health.