Breathing is vital for life, It can refresh and rejuvenate you if done correctly. It can also create dysfunctions and create fatigue if done wrong. Many people think that the more your breath the better, and taking big breaths often is great, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
When you breath air you bring oxygen into your lungs and it is transported into your blood stream. After this the oxygen is transported by your red blood cells to your brain and body. These red blood cells also have CO2 attached to it. This CO2 is vital to allow your red blood cells to release oxygen. If you don’t have enough CO2 you can not release oxygen to your brain and body. This creates a scenario where you are constantly fatigued due to lack of good oxygen. This is why it is important to create a good balance of CO2 to Oxygen in your systems.
When you take large breaths through your mouth, or you are a chronic mouth breather you are constantly expelling to much CO2 and taking in too much oxygen. This disrupts the natural balance of CO2 to oxygen and decreases oxygenation to your brain and body.
In school as an exercise science major and as I continued my education in chiropractic school I learned that CO2 was a byproduct of breathing, and served no real purpose. This was dead wrong, and learning this has allowed me to get rid of my allergies, asthma symptoms, and improve my endurance dramatically!
So how do you regulate this is the real question. Through my research and personal experimentation this is what I learned. The most important aspect of this is training yourself to breath through your nose at all times. This allows for regulation of CO2 and oxygen because your nose is the best regulator of this by far. Also when your breath through your nose you release nitric oxide which dilates your respiratory system and improves oxygen uptake.
These are the steps I took to train myself to breath through my nose:
I started by taping my mouth shut at night and only breathing through my nose at night. This was weird at first, but resulted in huge benefits instantly. I was waking up less tired, I was sleeping deeper, and felt more recovered. I now hate sleeping without mouth tape, and still do it every night.
Secondly I started wearing a mute (nasal dilator) during the day. This is a small device that goes in your nose and dilates your nostrils to decrease resistance in the nasal passage and allow for better breathing through the nose. This helped me not feel the urge to breath through my mouth all day, even when I was busier and moving more. It was especially beneficial when I worked out and I needed to take in larger amounts of oxygen to keep moving.
Lastly I started doing breath holding exercises when on walks, runs, biking, and even just sitting on my couch during a movie. This allowed me to gradually decrease my sensitivity to CO2 and decrease my respiratory rate from 20 breaths a minute to around 8-10 consistently.
All of these techniques are easy to accomplish and take very little time, just a little bit of conscious thought. These small changes will produce massive changes in how you feel and function throughout the day when practiced consistently!