A photo of James Nestor with an illustration of the effects of breathing through your mouth on your facial structure.

Breathe through Your Nose (yes, when you’re sleeping too!)

Sometimes I learn something life-changing that I must share. This is one of those times.

As a Feldenkrais® teacher, I’ve studied and taught numerous ways of breathing. And breath has been a focus of several meditation practices I follow. I felt like an expert.

A series of ten therapeutic cathartic breathwork sessions showed me more. Breathing in a specific rhythm and manner led me into an altered state of consciousness where deep emotional healing was facilitated.

Then last fall my sister Gwen came to visit. A friend had recommended that she read Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. That friend was reading the book for the third time. I got Breath from the library, and Gwen and I tag-teamed reading it over the holidays.

My first take-away: breathe through your nose.

Whatever you’re doing, breathe through your nose.

Reading? Yes.

Walking? Yes.

Running? Yes.

Sleeping? Yes!

Halfway through the book I was already breathing through my nose while awake.

Nose breathing & sleeping

But what do you do while you’re sleeping? Tape your mouth.

That’s right.

Gwen immediately ordered “Hostage” brand tape and started sleeping with it. She reported that she forgot she was wearing it in the morning.

I did a little research, and it turns out all you need is a little piece of micropore tape holding your lips together. You don’t even need to cover your whole mouth. See this video the breath guy—investigative reporter James Nestor— recorded. Short, simple explanation. And it works.

I’ve been sleeping with my mouth taped for about a month. What I’m noticing so far:

  • No more snoring
  • No more tooth grinding (bruxism)—my mouth guard is going into deep storage
  • No more drooling while sleeping
  • Waking up with a moist mouth, as opposed to a dry one, which I’m guessing is a boost for tooth health (did you know saliva cleans your teeth?)
  • A better bite, which it turns out relaxes my jaw muscles
  • Reduced TMJ pain (it’s almost gone)

Did you know sleep apnea is growing by epidemic proportions? Folks are actually getting their jaws surgically altered sometimes to solve the problem, which can lead to permanent loss of sensation in your face. Sleeping with your mouth taped might be a solution. Seems worth trying; it’s way cheaper than surgery, at the very least.

Chewing?

Another practice to consider: increase the amount of time you spend chewing. When you chew, you can literally grow more space in your jaw, at any age. Which is great for your teeth, for talking, singing. Also for looking younger.

The breakfast cereal I invented takes prolonged chewing. And it’s delicious. One half steel-cut oats, one half chia seeds. Soak overnight. Add the spices you enjoy, salt. Cook around 25 minutes. Currently I’m eating a huge bowl every morning topped with cranberry and apple compote, flax seed meal, yogurt, and maple syrup or honey. Unbelievably tasty and wonderful texture. I wake up craving it. Let me know if you’d like a more detailed recipe.

James Nestor recommends a particular gum, which I’ve not tried yet.

What does it take to change?

Actually, I think a client of mine mentioned the book in 2020 when it was published. I was too distracted at the time to pay attention. I’m grateful Gwen mentioned it now, when I was ready to listen and take action.

Most folks seem interested when I tell them about the book. A few have said they’ve read it. But only one so far has decided to try breathing through their nose, other than my sister. Yet it’s virtually free, easy to try, and potentially has enormous health benefits for our internal organs, immune system, facial bone structure, and more.

I’m trying to understand what keeps the people I’m telling about it from trying breathing through their noses exclusively.

Maybe they’ve not reached threshold energy yet. That place where you say: Enough! The place James Nestor reached, where he said, There’s gotta be a better way. And went and did the research. And then shared it with us.

There are some complex techniques Nestor offers, in the second part of the book. But you can get started right now, before you read it.

Breathe through your nose.

Let me know how it goes.

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