Breathing through your nose is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do to improve your overall health and wellness.
Your mouth, on the other hand, should generally be regarded as a last resort when it comes to breathing. A simple quip you can always keep in the back of your mind is this: You should breathe through your mouth as often as you eat through your nose.
Unfortunately, for many of us nose breathing is not the default, especially when sleeping. We don't often focus on our breath, which means that we may not even realize that we're mouth breathing! Today, we're breaking down 10 reasons nasal breathing is healthier than mouth breathing. Sometimes understanding the 'why' can go a long way in actually helping to change your habits!
1. Filtration of Incoming Air
Your nose filters the air you breathe. One way it does this is through nose hairs (Fun Fact: According to Cleveland Clinic , the inside of your nose has as many hair follicles as the top of your head.). Tiny hair-like structures called cilia also trap particles and send them down your throat and into your stomach instead of your lungs.
2. Warming and Humidifying
Your nose also warms and moistens the air you breathe. Think of your nose as an air conditioner, priming the air to just the right temperature and humidity to ensure optimal gas exchange in the lungs. If you're always breathing through your mouth, you miss out on this important piece of the breathing puzzle!
3. Nitric Oxide: The Wonder Molecule
Related to both 1 and 2 is the gas nitric oxide (NO). NO is continuously released into your nasal airways. It has antiviral, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties, which help to sterilize incoming air. Moreover, NO is a potent vasodilator, increasing blood flow in the nose and thus contributing to more warmth. Finally, when NO reaches your lungs, it increases blood flow there, too. This improves gas exchange, leading to better oxygenation.
4. Get 10% More Oxygen
This one sounds impressive, doesn't it? Because of the benefits of nitric oxide, breathing through your nose can increase the amount of oxygen reaching your tissues and cells by an average of 10% more than mouth breathing. This can support energy, memory, and so much more!
5. Naturally Slows Down Your Breathing
Nasal breathing adds as much as 50% more resistance to each breath you take.1 This means you'll naturally breathe slower when you use your nose versus your mouth. And this is important because slower breathing sends messages of calm to your brain, helping you feel more relaxed. If nasal breathing becomes your default, it can help lower your baseline stress levels.
6. Naturally Normalizes Breathing Volume
Overbreathing can be harmful to your health because you eliminate too much carbon dioxide (CO2) when you breathe too much. Although CO2 is often referred to as a “waste gas,” it does many critical functions, such as helping oxygen delivery and improving blood flow. When we breathe nasally, we better normalize our breathing volume, ensuring optimal CO2 and oxygen levels.
7. Calms Your Nervous System
Because nasal breathing slows down your breathing, it helps activate the calming, parasympathetic branch of your nervous system. As its nickname suggests, this “the rest-and-digest” branch of the nervous system will allow you to rest and recover more deeply. Overall, this will help you feel calmer throughout the day.
Conversely, mouth breathing results in faster upper-chest breathing. This can put you into a constant state of overbreathing and, consequently, a chronic state of stress.
8. Synchronizes Your Brain Waves
Nasal breathing synchronizes brain waves across multiple regions of your brain, including areas of your limbic system. This is important because these regions of your brain are tied to behavioral and emotional responses. Mouth breathing does not have this effect.
9. It May Make You Smarter
The jury is still out, but because nasal breathing influences regions of the brain associated with emotions and memory, it may make you smarter than mouth breathing.
For example, in one study, researchers showed participants faces expressing either fear or surprise and had them quickly decide which it was. The response times were faster when nasal breathing than mouth breathing.
10. You'll Sleep Better
“While asleep, shut your mouth and save your brain.” – Sleep (1983)
It's not often you see a witty quote like that in a scientific journal article. But research consistently shows us that nasal breathing helps us sleep better.
The net results? You'll sleep deeper and have more energy.
Even if you're currently breathing with your mouth more than you'd like, we hope the above tips have given you hope that habits can change, and that the benefits are vast. If you're ready to start nasal breathing more frequently, let us know! We'd love to support you as you work to breathe through your nose and improve your sleep, memory, and overall wellbeing.
If you're looking for more ways to support your lung health, our resB Lung Support is a great holistic tool that supports gut, lung, and immune health. It's an easy way to support whole body health each day. Combine your daily resB with activities like swimming and healthy eating and you've got yourself a winning combination!
resB was specifically developed by a team of physician-scientists, including ResBiotic's founder, Dr. Vivek Lal, based on years of research. It targets the gut-lung axis with a proprietary combination of clinically studied probiotic strains and anti-inflammatory herbs, scientifically engineered to support lung structure and a healthy inflammatory response.*
resB is the product of over a decade of research at the intersection of lung health and microbiome science. Our interdisciplinary team is pioneering products that target the gut-lung axis to transform the conversation around lung health.
You can learn more at https://resbiotic.com/products/resb.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
1 Cottle, M.H. The work, ways, positions and patterns of nasal breathing (relevance in heart and lung illness). Proceedings of the American Rhinologic Society,1972.