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Breathing is one of the basic survival instincts for us humans. Obviously we can’t ignore the importance of breathing, but do we take it for granted?
Multiple studies have shown that most of us are using less than optimal breathing techniques. It’s not just that we don’t breath deeply enough, but also the technique we use is not the most effective way of providing our bodies with the required amount of oxygen we need in order to function at our highest level.
Poor breathing techniques, even for just a short period of time, can result in serious problems, most of which are related to decreased levels of oxygen in the blood.
Poor breathing techniques can:
- Induce feelings of dizziness, nausea, insomnia and panic attacks
- Keep your body in a constant state of alertness, leading to more stress hormones being produced
- Give you a general feeling of lethargy all the time
- Make your skin become clammy and pale
- Force your major muscle groups to tire out quicker than they should
- Create an imbalance in your cells, making them overly alkaline and less acidic
- Cause irregular heartbeats and palpitations
These issues are typically caused by shallow breathing from your upper chest. It is known as thoracic breathing and many medical specialists are now saying that it simply isn’t an effective way to bring in enough CO2 to your body.
The recommend style of breathing is called diaphragmatic breathing as it ensures a healthy amount of air is taken into the lungs so as to replenish the body with enough oxygen. The breathing technique in the link above requires deep breathing and studies have shown that spending just 10 minutes utilizing this technique before bed can reap major benefits.
It’s not advisable to breathe deeply all day, but even taking normal sized breaths from your diaphragm, or ‘breathing from your belly‘ as it is sometimes known, has been proven to be the most effective way to breathe.
This may all sound simple and straightforward but it goes a long way towards boosting mental and physical wellness and in time once it becomes second nature, it can lead to a whole body wellness – as we are finally supplying all of our cells with the nutrients they need to do all of their specific jobs to the best of their ability.
Improving Indoor Air Quality
A good start to propel us along to healthy breathing is to make sure the source of air we inhale is the cleanest and purest we can get.
The air inside buildings have been shown to be even more contaminated than the air outdoors and since homes and offices are where most of us spend the majority of our time – this is clearly something that should be addressed.
Poor indoor air is one of the major causes of asthma, allergies and respiratory problems to name just a few of the negative effects this toxic air can have on our bodies. Ensuring that the indoor air quality is optimal will not just help reduce these problems for sufferers, but also make it far easier for us to all achieve our goal of breathing in enough CO2 so that our cells function at maximum efficiency.
We could write a whole other blog post on the ways to decrease airborne pollutants in the home, but suffice to say there is one very quick and effective way to reduce more than 95% of these toxins from the main habitat zones of our homes. And that is to buy an air purifier.
Air purifiers are devices that can remove over 95% of contaminants, pollutants and microorganisms from the air, but unfortunately you can’t just rush out and buy the first air purifier you see assuming they’re all the same. Many of the top models have tailored filters designed to combat specific problems, like dust or pet odors. At the same time, many will proport to use the best HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate absorber) but in actuality they are just HEPA ‘Like’ filters that are not properly certified by any regulatory body, meaning they’re cheap and inferior to genuine ones. It can be a tricky field to navigate, so check out freshairguide’s write up on how to find the best air purifier.
The Benefits of Deep Breathing Before Bed
Spending as little as 10 minutes on deep breathing exercises at night can have significant benefits for your overall well-being. As stated earlier, deep ‘breathing from the gut’ supplies the body with enough oxygen to maintain healthy cell functionality.
Taking deep breaths, especially before sleep has been shown to significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels in the body. Deep breathing allows you to regulate your breathing patterns, which in turn helps you relieve body tension, leading to a powerful feeling of calm and relaxation. It is an invaluable technique for people that suffer from anxiety and panic disorders but moreover has shown outstanding benefits for everyone, not just those with medical issues.
Shallow breathing will always result in a feeling of anxiety and panic as the body feels as though it is exposed to some form of danger and needs to react accordingly. This is actually a very normal and indeed necessary response from your brain. If we are exposed to a real danger and have a genuine reason to be fearful, then we will involuntarily start shallow breathing, which then signals the brain to adjust brain chemicals accordingly, so as to be ready to either combat the danger or attempt to flee it. This is more commonly known as the ‘fight or flight’ response and many anxiety sufferers are engaging this response under non life threatening circumstances, simply by not paying attention to how they are breathing.
A Healthy and Well-Functioning Heart
Deep breathing goes hand in hand with a healthy heart. Practicing diaphragmatic breathing strengthens the muscles of the heart making it more durable and stronger. The heart performs optimally under these conditions and over time your heartbeat rhythm will improve and become more efficient. Very simply what is happening is that de-oxygenated blood is oxidized more easily and the heart is not overwhelmed by a lack of oxygenated blood. If the heart is overworked your pulse rate is increased, which over time can result in serious health consequences.
Achieving a Good Posture
You can only achieve diaphragmatic breathing if your posture is correct. Poor breathing postures are as a result of incorrect body posture as the diaphragm is not well aligned. You cannot breathe in deeply if you are sitting or inclining forward or leaning towards one side. Sitting or standing upright ensures there is no pressure or tension around the chest area and you can breathe in more freely. Lungs are also able to accommodate more air. Regular deep breathing ensures you are always in an upright posture which obviously works in favor of the spine and back muscles too, in what has to be one of the greatest symbiotic benefits a health hack can have.
Many people are struggling with weight problems. Taking deep breaths before going to bed will ensure that oxygen circulation is optimal. Oxygen is known to burn fat deposits in the body tissues and cells. If there is insufficient oxygen, the body breaks down oxygen instead of fat deposits.
This also helps general cardiovascular performance. People who have problems exercising can practice deep breathing in order to reap this benefit that also aids in the breakdown of fat.
Many of the body functions are interrelated in some way. The benefits discussed above all sum up to better sleep, which in turn leads to a more healthy body.
The body is not under any form of stress, anxiety, digestive problems or cardiovascular issues and in general what we would call a relaxed state. To achieve the recommended hours of sleep for optimal health and performance the next day, general well-being of the body is crucial.