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How to breathe your way to better memory and sleep


Scientist

How to breathe your way to better memory and sleep

More than half of us breathe the wrong way, missing out on many benefits from better health to altered consciousness. Here’s how to do it right Health 8 January 2020 By Caroline Williams Breathing exercise Pranayama – Alternate nostril breathing, often performed for stress and anxiety reliefMicrogen/Getty ImagesIT MAY be the most natural thing in…

How to breathe your way to better memory and sleep

More than half of us breathe the wrong way, missing out on many benefits from better health to altered consciousness. Here’s how to do it right



Health



8 January 2020

By Caroline Williams

Breathing exercise Pranayama

Breathing exercise Pranayama – Alternate nostril breathing, often performed for stress and anxiety relief

Microgen/Getty Images

IT MAY be the most natural thing in the world, but breathing is surprisingly easy to get wrong – and that matters more than you might think.

Most of the time, the right way to breathe is through your nose. The pointy thing stuck to your face is exquisitely designed to trap dust and other foreign bodies in its hairs and snot. Beyond your visible nose lies the nasal cavity, a cavernous space the size of a gaping mouth. This is lined with folded membranes designed to warm or cool the air to body temperature, add moisture and trap pathogens in yet more mucus. Your sinuses – air-filled spaces that connect to the nasal cavity – swirl the air around more and add nitric oxide, which kills bacteria and viruses and relaxes the blood vessels in the respiratory tract, allowing more oxygen to pass into the blood.

The upshot of all this is that nose breathing adds 50 per cent more air resistance than breathing through the mouth. That gives your heart and lungs a workout and increases the vacuum in your lungs, which allows you to draw in up to 20 per cent more oxygen than breathing by mouth.

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As if that wasn’t enough, nasal breathing boosts brain function too. Young mouth-breathing rats were slower to complete a maze than nose breathers and, when they reached adulthood, they had …

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