Can I train myself to breathe through my nose?
March 12, 2012 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Is there any way to stop myself from breathing through my mouth?

I am a mouth breather, both during the day and at night. At certain times of the year I have bad seasonal allergies, and while medication means I can breathe and not blow my nose constantly, I still breathe mainly through my mouth. When I practice yoga, which I try to do three-four times a week, I can consciously make myself breath through my nose, but when I'm not thinking about it: definitely mouth. At night, mouth. Which, when I'm stuffed up, leads to loud snoring. I don't think I have sleep apnea - I generally sleep soundly all night and wake up well rested, and my husband reports that I don't wake up during the night to his knowledge (and he's awake plenty during my snoring times). I am somewhat overweight, but not obese, and this hasn't changed in 10 years, although the mouth breathing (and for sure the snoring) have increased.

tl;dr: can I train myself to use my nose somehow? what about at night?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
At certain times of the year I have bad seasonal allergies, and while medication means I can breathe and not blow my nose constantly, I still breathe mainly through my mouth

I would see an ENT to have a look at your sinuses and talk about allergies before deciding that this is a bad habit you can "train" yourself out of.
posted by slow graffiti at 9:53 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try Breathe-Rite strips. These made a huge, huge difference for me. Snoring has basically stopped, and I find myself breathing through my nose much more frequently even when I'm not wearing the strip during the day.
posted by apparently at 10:10 AM on March 12, 2012

What you want is Buteyko breathing, specifically the Asthma Cure Manual from these guys:

I was a mouth breather (because of allergies) from a very, very early age. I couldn't sleep on my back because my throat would collapse. (No apnea while sleeping on my side, thankfully.)

Here's what will happen if you do the exercises GENTLY and PATIENTLY:

Your jaw and tongue will start to feel really tight during the day over a few weeks. You may experience interimittent dizziness and other unpleasant symptoms. Within six months you will probably be an unconscious, effortless nose-breather. I am.

Mouth or nose breath is a reflex regulated by CO2 tolerance in the bloodstream. Sinus mucous and sinus airflow is regulated by CO2 tolerance in the bloodstream. (Airway muscle tone, etc., etc.) Buteyko breathing normalizes CO2 tolerance and alters breathing depth and rate by literally retraining the nervous system (and kidneys and other stuff).

IANAD. I tried all sorts of random stuff for a bunch of health issues, and this was one of the side effects. It had a huge positive impact on my life. Do it!
posted by zeek321 at 10:15 AM on March 12, 2012

posted by zeek321 at 10:15 AM on March 12, 2012

You might be interested in The Breathing Book.
posted by callmejay at 10:35 AM on March 12, 2012

If you talk to your doctor, they can help you find a therapist who can teach you this skill. (caveat: I went to such a therapist as a child and I thought it was simple hogwash that people could breathe through their noses instead of the mouth- it was obvious to pre-teen me that noses were too obstructed to breathe through. One removal of a softball-sized adenoid and 20 years later of still being a mouthbreather...I wish I could go back to that therapist). Seconding the check with an ENT doc for physical problems before therapy.
posted by holyrood at 11:39 AM on March 12, 2012

Do/did you have a cleft palate? This is a known issue; people who are born with cleft palates often also have bifurcated uvulas, which contributes to snoring/mouth breathing. When you consciously breathe through your nose, do you have to put your tongue on the roof of your mouth to be able to do so?
posted by desjardins at 3:54 PM on March 12, 2012

The Buteyko person zeek321 mentioned sounds like kind of a crackpot; he claims it can reverse epilepsy and vision loss, among many other conditions. See a doctor.
posted by desjardins at 3:58 PM on March 12, 2012

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