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11 Natural Ways to Improve Breathing and Sleep

By Amanda Morgan

Breathe in, breathe out. While this task is easy for most people in the United States, about 5% of adults in America suffer from sleep-disordered breathing. These individuals struggle to breathe easily at night when trying to sleep. Beyond the five percent of adults who have sleep-disordered breathing, almost 25% of adults snore nightly from troubled breathing. When a person’s breathing starts to negatively effect their sleep it can cause adverse health effects such as vulnerability to illness or inability to focus. Fortunately, there are many natural ways to significantly improve breathing and get a better night’s sleep. Read this article to learn eleven ways that can naturally improve your breathing and sleep.  

1) Neti Pot

One of the key issues that contributes to difficulty breathing is clogged nasal passages. One quick and easy way to clear these passages is through the use of a Neti Pot or a similar device. A Neti Pot looks like a tea pot with its long spout and rounded body. However, this tool is not used to make tea but instead allows people to pour warm saline water through the nostrils. The water will travel from one nostril and come out of the other when the head it tilted downwards and to the side. It is recommended that people use distilled water and add kosher salt to prevent infection. Doctors recommend the Neti Pot to remove irritants and thin out mucus in the body. It also aids the cilia with removing allergens in the nose. Try the Neti Pot before bed and see an improvement in nighttime breathing.

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2) Nasal Strips

Put a stop to incessant snoring with nasal strips. Nasal Strips are a product that can help to eliminate snoring and promote a better sleep. They are usually applied before bed and they can help to open up the nasal passages. Snoring will cease to be an issue once the nasal passages are opened. This is especially useful if you are experiencing congestion and inflammation in the sinuses. The three biggest causes of nighttime nasal congestion according to Breathe Right Strips are colds, allergens, and a deviated septum. Breathe Right Strips, a brand of nasal strips, claim that their product is designed to be worn nightly without discomfort. While the nasal strips will not cure the underlying problem such as a deviated septum or a cold, they will facilitate an easier breathing during sleep. 

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3) Mister

Instead of turning to medication when suffering from a stuffy nose, try steam. New treatments have emerged that promote the use of drug-free steam instead of medication. MyPurMist is one company that has created a mister device which has become quite popular. This device works by placing a mask over the mouth and nose. Purified steam is then released into the mask to be inhaled through the nose. This mask works even better than a steamy shower and is very easy to use. While this mister can be used to treat a variety of ailments, it is most commonly used for upper respiratory congestion. A survey was conducted which concluded that 94% of MyPurMist users saw an improvement in their congestion and an increased in their amount of restful sleep. 

4) Humidifiers

Humidifiers are an easy way to bring moisture back into a room, especially during the winter when the heat is on. Heaters may cause a person’s nasal passages and throat to dry out. Ultimately, this leads to an uncomfortable night’s sleep and an unpleasant morning. Often people will complain about having a sore throat in the morning when the air is very dry. A humidifier in the room will prevent this from occurring and even have the additional bonus of protecting against infection. One study found that people are less likely to come down with the flu when they are in a room with a higher humidity. Not only do humidifiers help to improve sleep and prevent illness, but it also aids in obtaining healthier, softer skin. All of these additional advantages of a humidifier make it one of the best natural ways to improve nighttime breathing. 

5) Breath in That Fresh Air

Fresh air may be the natural cure that people have been looking for to improve breathing and sleep. It may be time to throw out all the perfumes, incents, candles, and air fresheners and instead open a window. Air fresheners have many toxins in them which can lead to respiratory issues and irritate the nasal passages. This irritation will, in turn, cause inflammation and a blockage of the airways. Perfumes also contain many of the same irritants as air fresheners and lead to similar issues. Instead of perfume, consider using a natural oil-based perfume or skip it altogether. By tossing out these known irritants and allowing fresh air into the home, a person may find that they are able to breathe easier at night. Fresh air has the added benefit of helping people relax before bed. 

6) Sleeping Position

Improving one’s breathing at night may be as simple as raising the head of the bed a few inches higher than the rest of the mattress. The position, known as the Fowler position, is used by doctors on patients with respiratory distress. By allowing the head to be above the body, the abdominal muscles can relax and breathing is easier. In order to raise the head of the bed, books can be placed under the mattress. Another option is to sleep on a thicker pillow or two pillows. Both of these options allow for the head to be slightly above the body and facilitate easier breathing. If raising the head does not work, some people suggest sleeping on one’s side. Sleeping on the side will open the airways and reduce breathing problems. 

7) Breathing exercises

Just like a person can train their muscles to become stronger, a person can do breathing exercises to train their breathing. These exercises are perfect for people who find that they feel short of breath or that breathing is difficult during the nighttime. One area to focus on when completing these exercises is the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the main muscle controlling breathing and it may be causing a person’s breathing difficulties. There are many different exercises out there so it is important that people find the one that works best for them. Breathing exercises do not take long but have a significant impact on a person’s breathing and sleep. The best thing about breathing exercises is that they can be done from the comfort of your home without having to purchase additional supplies. 

8) Nasal Saline Spray

Nasal saline sprays work in a similar manner to humidifiers in that they restore moisture to the nasal passages. The major difference is that the saltwater solution, also known as saline, is sprayed from a bottle into each nostril instead of injecting moisture into the air. When the nasal passage is dry, it can lead to difficulty breathing, especially when the heat is on in the house. The saline spray also helps to flush out anything blocking the airways in the nostrils and allow for air to pass easily into the body. Typically, people use saline sprays in conjunction with medication during a cold or when their nostrils are very inflamed. However, this treatment can be done alone, and many people find it a great alternative to medicine. 

9) Limit Eating Before Bed

The food a person eats before attempting to fall asleep may have a negative impact on their breathing. Undigested food in the body can cause significant inflammation. When the nasal passages are inflamed, people will experience difficulties breathing. In order to prevent this problem, it is recommended that people stop eating three hours before bed. You shouldn’t lie down at all for three hours after a meal. Food with a high dairy content should especially be avoided as they increase mucus production and congestion. Spicy food may cause a person’s nose to excessively run which may also lead to breathing issues and a lack of sleep from constantly getting up to get tissues. Nothing is worse than waking up at night, so skip the milk and spicy food and get a better night’s sleep. 

10) Exercise

While most people recognize the benefits that exercise has on their physical body from weight loss to increased muscle strength, few people realize the impact it has on breathing. Regular exercise helps to increase lung function. When a person increases their lung function they will not feel as out of breath. Another benefit of exercise is it tires out the body and causes people to fall asleep quicker. Physical exercise should be done four to five times a week in order to notice a difference. It is recommended that people should first engage in low intensity workouts such as walking and slowly increase the intensity of the exercise; if they cause pain or discomfort a doctor should be consulted immediately. This is an easy way to improve breathing while also having the added benefit of improving physical health. 

11) Tea Time

What is more relaxing than a warm cup of tea right before bed? While some decaffeinated teas such as Sleepytime tea help to relax the body for bed, they also improve breathing. Herbal teas are especially beneficially in improving sleep. Some herbs help to decrease mucus while other fights off bacteria that may cause inflammation. Peppermint is a delicious and common herb that can be found in teas. This herb contains menthol which relaxes the throat and reduces cough and irritation. Eucalyptus is another herb which has important properties to promote easier breathing and sleep. It is especially helpful in reducing throat irritation which could be bothersome when a person is trying to sleep. Drinking tea before bed each night could be the solution to a restless night due to breathing issues.

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