How Deep Breathing Affects the Nervous System

How Deep Breathing Affects the Nervous System

Most of us have never regretted pausing for a moment to take a deep breath. Breathing deeply relaxes your body and mind, helping you to feel calmer and more in control. 

You tend to feel better after a deep breath because your breathing affects your nervous system. The nervous system is like your body’s computer programming. It controls how you think, feel, and move your body. It also controls organs you don’t have to think about, like your beating heart. 

Deep breathing has been found to help you feel more relaxed, think more clearly, and lift your mood.[*] Let’s break down how deep breathing leads to changes in the nervous system and why it’s so important. 

 

Deep Breathing 101

Deep breathing refers to focusing your attention on taking slow, deep breaths. It’s common to spend much of your day using only shallow breathing. Shallow breaths tend to be rapid and only use a small percentage of your lung capacity. You know you are breathing shallowly when only your chest moves with each breath. 

When you breathe deeply, you use a muscle under your lungs known as the diaphragm.[*] During a deep breath, the diaphragm contracts and moves down to make room for the lungs to fill. When you breathe out, the diaphragm relaxes and moves back up. You know you are breathing deeply when both your chest and belly expand and contract with your breathing. 

 

Deep Breathing and Your Nervous System

Deep breathing promotes relaxation in the body because it helps to regulate the nervous system.[*] Each time you take a deep breath, your diaphragm contracts, and this contraction stimulates a part of the nervous system known as the vagus nerve.[*

The vagus nerve is a system of nerves that run from the brain down to the large intestine. These nerves control involuntary actions in the body. Involuntary actions refer to bodily functions that happen without thinking about them, such as your heart pumping blood to the body or your digestive tract digesting your last meal.[*]

The vagus nerve is an important part of the nervous system because it helps to regulate the sympathetic nervous system. This system is known for its “fight or flight” response. When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, it causes an increased heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. It can also lead to feelings of irritability and anxiety.[*] You likely felt your sympathetic nervous system activated the last time you had to do something stressful, such as giving an important presentation at work. 

The vagus nerve downregulates this “fight or flight” response by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system tends to slow down our bodies, bringing down the heart rate and breathing rate. It directs more oxygen back to your brain, helping you to think more clearly and feel less stressed.[*] This is why you usually feel better after taking a few deep breaths. 

 

Breathing and HRV

Another way that deep breathing impacts the nervous system is by improving our HRV (heart rate variability). HRV measures the time in between your heartbeats. When the time between beats fluctuates or changes slightly, those fluctuations are known as HRV. 

It is normal for our heart rates to change throughout the day based on what we’re doing. Your heart rate needs to increase when you go from sitting at your desk to jogging around the block. A high HRV indicates that your body can adapt to changes as needed. 

A 2014 study found that people with insomnia were able to increase their HRV with regular deep breathing exercises. After breathing deeply for 20 minutes each night, the study participants also reported that they fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer.[*]

 

Deep Breathing and Mood

Perhaps one of the most noticeable benefits of deep breathing is an improved mood. Breathing deeply affects our emotions and leads to decreased feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.[*]

Each time you take a deep breath, a complex set of changes takes place in your brain. A 2016 study found that deep breathing reduces emotional responses in the amygdala, the part of the brain that is responsible for processing any stimuli that feel threatening or scary.[*] This means that deep breathing can help you to think more clearly without your emotions taking over. 

Most of us have experienced the regret of acting or speaking in the heat of the moment without thinking it through. Deep breathing allows our brains a chance to calm down and think through our next actions. 

 

How Breathing Exercises Work

Starting a deep breathing exercise program does not have to be complicated or overwhelming. No one needs one more task on their to-do list. All you need is a quiet place to rest and a few minutes to focus on your breath. 

It may be helpful to lie down and rest one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen. As you start to breathe in, notice if your belly rises. Try to fill your lungs completely. Then breathe out and notice your chest and belly relaxing like a deflating balloon. 

When you’re first implementing a deep breathing routine, it can be helpful to have some extra support. If you would like a little guidance during your deep breathing sessions, consider using the Somnox 2 sleep robot. It breathes with you to help you breathe more deeply and evenly.

 

Should You Try Deep Breathing?

Deep breathing is a healthy choice for just about everyone. Most of us could use more activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. Modern life can often feel busy and chaotic. 

Taking a few moments each day to counteract life’s stressors with a deep breath may quickly become one of your favorite daily rituals. 

Effects of Deep Breathing on HRV

Effects of Deep Breathing on HRV

If you’re interested in getting better sleep, you may be familiar with the benefits of deep breathing. You may know, for instance, that it can relax your mind and body while improving your quality of sleep. 

What you may not be familiar with is how deep breathing affects your heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is an important health indicator and can be improved over time with lifestyle changes. One of the quickest ways to a healthier HRV is to take a deep breath. 

What Is Deep Breathing?

Deep breathing is the act of consciously taking slow, diaphragmatic breaths. When you breathe deeply, your body starts to slow down and relax. 

Coherent breathing is similar to deep breathing and involves taking long, slow breaths at a rate of about 5 breaths per minute. This is much slower than the way we usually breathe. For most of us, the spontaneous breathing rate at rest varies from 9 to 20 breaths per minute in healthy adults.[*]

What Is HRV?

Your heart rate measures the number of times your heart beats each minute. Your heart rate variability measures the fluctuations in time between each heartbeat. 

It is normal for our heart rates and the time between beats to change throughout the day. Heart rate variations change by fractions of a second to adjust for changes in the body and environment. 

For example, your heart rate changes depending on what you’re doing. Our hearts beat slower when we’re at rest and faster when we’re active, stressed, or sense danger. 

Your HRV is a measurement that reflects how adaptable your body is to change. High HRV is associated with better cardiovascular health, less stress, and more feelings of happiness. When your heart can quickly react to stimuli, your body is more resilient to stress and illness.[*

Low HRV is considered a warning sign of current or future health problems. Low HRV tends to be more common in people who have high resting heart rates. When the heart has to beat faster, there is naturally less time between beats. This leads to less variability, which is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, arrhythmia, asthma, anxiety, and depression.[*

It’s important to note that high HRV is not always a good thing. An unusually high HRV could indicate a health problem like heart disease or anxiety. HRV can only be measured with specialized devices like an electrocardiogram (EKG) or heart rate monitor from your healthcare provider. 

How Deep Breathing Affects HRV

Deep breathing is a simple way to improve HRV because taking slow, deep breaths helps to downregulate the sympathetic nervous system. This is the system that triggers the “fight or flight” response in the body. It activates any time we feel stressed or threatened. When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, HRV tends to be lower.[*]

Fortunately, a few deep breaths can activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the system that causes a “rest and digest” response in the body. It is responsible for calming us down after a stressful situation. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, HRV naturally increases.[*

Sleep and HRV

HRV tends to be lower when we’re stressed and higher when we’re at rest. Getting quality sleep is one way to improve your HRV and your health. 

A 2014 study found that people with insomnia were able to increase their HRV with regular deep breathing exercises. The study participants also reported that they fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer once they started incorporating deep breathing into their nightly routines.[*]

Other Ways to Improve HRV

HRV is a reflection of how adaptable your body is to stress and changes in the environment. Fortunately, HRV is flexible and can be improved over time. Other ways to improve HRV include:[*]

  • Physical activity
  • Healthy diet
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Sleep
  • Stress reduction
  • Biofeedback training 

HRV may also be affected by pacemakers, certain medications, and age. As we age, HRV naturally decreases. 

Deep Breathing Exercises to Increase HRV

Now that you’re ready to jump on the HRV train, let’s get specific. One of the simplest ways to improve your HRV is to practice deep breathing each day. 

A 2014 study found that a breathing pattern of 6 or 5.5 breaths per minute is associated with greater HRV than spontaneous breathing.[*] In other words, when you focus on taking deep, slow breaths (about 5 to 6 per minute), your HRV improves right away.

In the study, participants were asked to breathe in for 5 seconds and then breathe out for 5 seconds. This 5:5 ratio was found to significantly increase feelings of relaxation and improve HRV. The study participants also experienced better cardiovascular function, increased oxygen saturation, and decreased blood pressure. 

To get started, find a comfortable place where you can relax and close your eyes. Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest. Breathe in deeply for 5 seconds. Make sure you feel your belly rise as you inhale.

Once you have filled your lungs, slowly breathe out for 5 seconds. You’ll notice that your belly deflates like a balloon. Continue this ratio of 5:5 breathing for 10 minutes each day. Need a little support sticking to the ratio? Set your Somnox 2 sleep robot to 6 breaths per minute and relax into your deep breathing practice. No counting or keeping track required. 

5 Simple Breathing Exercises for Sleep

5 Simple Breathing Exercises for Sleep

Do you often find yourself lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, unable to fall asleep? Despite shutting off electronic devices at a reasonable hour, dousing your pillow in lavender essential oil, and taking a hot bath, your brain always seems to kick into high gear the second your head hits the pillow 

If this sounds familiar, don’t fret. Practicing simple breathing exercises for sleep can help calm your mind and body, making it easier to fall into a deep, restorative slumber.

In this article, we’ll be sharing five simple breathing exercises for sleep, but before we get into the how-to, let’s explore how breathing relates to sleep.  

For anyone looking to improve their sleep, Somnox 2 is your science-backed sleep companion that guides you towards slow-paced breathing that helps you fall asleep faster, worry less and wake up rested. 70% of our users improved their sleep quality within 4 weeks. Interested? Sign up for early access.

 

How Are Breathing and Sleep Connected?   

Your autonomic nervous system regulates many unconscious bodily functions, including heart rate, digestion, and breathing. It’s also responsible for triggering the “fight or flight” response, during which the body prepares to fight or flee a threat. When the fight or flight response is triggered, a person’s breathing becomes shallow and rapid to increase oxygen within the body.

This response served our ancestors well, as they periodically had to escape predators like lions, tigers, and bears. In today’s modern age, however, our lives are rarely in true danger. Instead, threats are things like work deadlines, relationship issues, and financial worries.

Although these things don’t threaten your life, your brain doesn’t know that, and treats all threats the same—whether physical or psychological, real or imagined—by stimulating your sympathetic nervous system.

Relaxed, diaphragmatic breathing is an antidote to an unbalanced autonomic nervous system. It activates your parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” system while dialing down the activity of your sympathetic nervous system.[*]

Deep breathing essentially gives your brain a safety signal, telling it that it’s okay to let its guard down and relax. Once your brain relaxes, your body will follow suit, allowing you to easily drift off into a restful sleep.

 

Simple Breathing Exercises for Sleep 

While breathing is largely an unconscious process that’s controlled by your brain stem, you can consciously change your breathing rate to facilitate sleep. Here are a few simple breathing exercises for sleep that you can try tonight.

 

4-7-8 Breathing

 The 4-7-8 method is a breathing technique developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, who describes it as a “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.

To practice 4-7-8 breathing, simply follow these steps:

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth with a “whoosh” sound.
  2. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for a count of four, ensuring that you’re breathing into your stomach, rather than your chest.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  4. Exhale through your mouth for a count of eight with a “whoosh” sound.
  5. Repeat this cycle until you drift off to sleep.

 

Count Your Breaths

Counting your breaths is a meditative and grounding practice that can soothe your mind and body, as well as take your mind off anxiety-inducing thoughts.

To practice, follow these simple steps:

  1. Begin with a few rounds of diaphragmatic breathing in and out through your nose.
  2. Establish a slow pattern of breathing for about a minute.
  3. As you exhale, count “one” to yourself.
  4. On the next exhale, count “two,” and so on up to “five.”  
  5. When you get to “five,” count back down to “one.”
  6. Continue until you start dozing off.

 

Inflate the Balloon

Visualization is a powerful tool that can help prepare your mind and body for sleep. While there are endless visualization techniques, the following one is particularly helpful for encouraging you to breathe deeply from your diaphragm, rather than engaging in stress-induced shallow breathing.

To practice this visualization, follow these simple steps:

  1. Begin with a few rounds of diaphragmatic breathing in and out through your nose.
  2. Establish a slow pattern of breathing for about a minute.
  3. As you inhale, visualize your abdomen as a balloon that’s inflating with air.
  4. As you exhale, visualize the balloon slowly deflating, as the air releases.
  5. You can even imagine the balloon as your favorite color, or that you’re floating in the sky.
  6. Continue until your eyes feel heavy and you fall asleep.

 

Diaphragmatic Breathing with Somnox

Somnox is a jelly-bean-shaped companion that uses robotic technology to help you fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake up refreshed. This science-backed sleep companion expands and deflates as if it’s taking deep, relaxing belly breaths. 

Simply holding the breathe and sleep companion unconsciously encourages you to adopt the same slowed-down breathing rhythm. This, in turn, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which puts you in a state that’s more conducive to sleep.

To use Somnox for sleep, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on Somnox 2. Within minutes, you’ll subconsciously adopt its calm breathing pattern.
  2. Smart sensors respond to your breathing in real-time, matching your rhythm and gradually adjusting it to the ideal rate.
  3. Fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling peaceful and rested.

Seventy percent of Somnox users report improved sleep quality within four weeks. 

 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nostril breathing, also known as nadi shodhana pranayama, is a yogic breath control practice. While it might take a minute to get the hang of it, research shows that this practice may lower stress, enabling you to fall asleep faster.[*

To practice alternate nostril breathing, follow these steps:

  1. Raise your hand to your nose, as if you were going to pinch your nose shut with your thumb and pointer fingers. 
  2. Exhale fully and then close your right nostril with your thumb.
  3. Inhale through your left nostril.
  4. Open your right nostril and exhale through it, while closing your left nostril with your pointer finger.
  5. Continue this rotation for five minutes.

 

Breathing for Better Sleep

Your breath is the most powerful tool you have to support better sleep. Decades of research has shown that deep, diaphragmatic breathing can calm the racing thoughts that are often the culprit behind restless nights.[*][*] 

The next time you find yourself tossing and turning, try practicing one of the above breathing exercises for sleep. You just might be surprised by how quickly you’re able to drift off into dreamland.

For anyone looking to improve their sleep, Somnox 2 is your science-backed sleep companion that guides you towards slow-paced breathing that helps you fall asleep faster, worry less and wake up rested. 70% of our users improved their sleep quality within 4 weeks. Interested? Sign up for early access.

Can You Improve Your Breathing Rate While You Sleep?

Can You Improve Your Breathing Rate While You Sleep?

When you’re not sleeping well, does anything else matter? There’s nothing more frustrating than lying awake at night watching the clock. 

One secret to achieving more restful slumber? Focus on achieving a healthy breathing rate while you sleep. 

Most of us don’t spend too much time wondering whether our vital signs are in the normal range, but if you’re struggling to get quality sleep, it’s time to take a look. Our vital signs include measurements of health like blood pressure, pulse rate, and breathing rate (also known as your respiratory rate). Your breathing rate refers to how many times you breathe in a minute.

When your breathing rate during sleep becomes too fast or too slow, you may find that it’s hard to stay asleep. You might also wake up feeling tired. 

Why? Because our breathing is closely linked with our sleep quality.[*] To start getting more restorative sleep, take a deep breath and read on. 

For anyone looking to improve their sleep, Somnox 2 is your science-backed sleep companion that guides you towards slow-paced breathing that helps you fall asleep faster, worry less and wake up rested. 70% of our users improved their sleep quality within 4 weeks. Interested? Sign up for early access.

 

How We Breathe During Sleep

A number of changes take place in our bodies when we sleep, including how we breathe. First, our breathing rate tends to slow down and become more constant during periods of rest and sleep. This is because our metabolic rate decreases during sleep, and a slower metabolic rate leads to slower breathing. Our other vital signs like heart rate and blood pressure go down during sleep as well.[*

Our muscles also relax during sleep, including our respiratory muscles. The result is a slower breathing rate because the muscles around the lungs are not working as hard as they normally do when we are awake.[*

The stage of sleep also affects our breathing rate during sleep. Most of us experience fragmented sleep with different phases and awakenings throughout the night. There are 4 stages of sleep, and our breathing changes as we enter each one. 

Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep is divided into 3 stages, and the breathing rate is typically constant. During stages 1 and 2, our bodies are in a state of light sleep, and the heart rate begins to decrease. As we enter NREM stage 3, our bodies relax more fully, and breathing starts to slow down. During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, our brains become more active, and breathing tends to be more irregular. The average breathing rate during REM sleep is usually a bit lower than in NREM sleep or wakefulness.[*

 

What’s a Good Breathing Rate During Sleep?

Healthy vital signs like your respiratory rate during sleep vary with age and health. For adults, a good breathing rate at rest is 12 to 20 breaths per minute.[*

A 2016 study found that the average breathing rate for adults without a respiratory condition was about 15 to 16 breaths per minute. This was true in all phases of sleep including both REM and NREM. In this study, the breathing rate during sleep was only slightly slower than the average awake breathing rate of 17 breaths per minute.[*]

 

How to Measure Breathing Rate During Sleep

You may be curious about your own breathing rate during sleep. How can you know if you’re in the healthy range? There are a few different ways for adults to measure respiration during sleep, including:

  • Manual counting: One way to measure your breathing rate during sleep is for your partner or friend to watch you while you rest (sounds creepy but it works). By counting how many times your chest rises and falls in a minute, they can measure your respiration rate. 
  • Wearable devices: Smartphones, smartwatches, and other wearable devices can be worn at night to measure your breathing rate during sleep and notify you of any irregularities.[*
  • Smart Breathing technology: The Somnox 2 monitors your breathing rate overnight and responds to your breathing in real-time, actively slowing down your breathing rate and helping you to calm down.

 

Conditions that Lead to Abnormal Respiration 

Several chronic health conditions can affect your breathing rate during sleep. It’s important to know the warning signs.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: This type of disordered breathing occurs when the upper airway becomes blocked during sleep. 
  • Central sleep apnea: Individuals with central sleep apnea experience paused breathing during sleep because their brains do not send the message to the respiratory muscles that it is time to breathe. 
  • Cardiovascular disease: Research shows that individuals who have or are at risk of cardiovascular disease are more likely to experience disordered breathing during sleep.[*]
  • Asthma: When individuals with asthma lie flat on their backs during sleep, their lung capacity goes down significantly. This makes it difficult for the body to sustain a normal breathing rate during sleep.[*]
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): COPD refers to a group of chronic lung conditions that block airflow to the lungs. 
  • High body mass index (BMI): Having a high BMI has been linked to a higher risk of sleep apnea.[*]
  • Mental health: Irregular breathing during sleep has been linked with mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. A 2015 study found that sleep apnea may raise the risk of developing a panic disorder.[*]
  • Pneumonia: Pneumonia is a lung infection that causes the air sacs in the lungs to become inflamed. This makes breathing more difficult and lowers one’s lung capacity.[*]
  • Narcotic use or abuse: Narcotic medications cause our respiratory rate to slow down and become more shallow. This is especially true during sleep.[*]

 

When Should I Talk to My Doctor?

Good sleep is vital to your health and quality of life. If you experience any of the following  symptoms during or after sleep, consider discussing them with yourdoctor:[*]

  • Snoring every night
  • Restless sleep
  • Morning headaches
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Trouble remembering or thinking clearly throughout the day

 

Tips for Healthy Respiration During Sleep

A healthy breathing rate is essential to getting restorative sleep. Fortunately, there are simple steps that you can start taking tonight to improve your quality of sleep (and life!).

To improve your breathing rate while you sleep, try incorporating one or more of the following tips:

  • Sleeping position: Sleeping on your side can increase your lung capacity and improve your breathing pattern.[*]
  • Avoid allergens: To improve the air quality in your bedroom, consider investing in an air purifier to remove bacteria and allergens from your environment.[*]
  • Breathing support: To deepen and improve your breathing rate during sleep, try the Somnox 2 (it breathes with you!).

For anyone looking to improve their sleep, Somnox 2 is your science-backed sleep companion that guides you towards slow-paced breathing that helps you fall asleep faster, worry less and wake up rested. 70% of our users improved their sleep quality within 4 weeks. Interested? Sign up for early access.

7 Health Benefits of Deep Breathing

7 Health Benefits of Deep Breathing

Take a deep breath and see how you feel. If you notice your muscles relaxing and your thoughts slowing down, there’s a reason for that. Deep breathing has several health benefits that can lift your mood and improve your quality of life.[*

Performing deep breathing exercises is a simple way to start taking care of your health. When you have a chronic health condition or simply want to make some improvements, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. 

Start with deep breathing. It’s free, can be done at any time, and doesn’t have side effects like medications. To start easing stress and improving your health, read on to learn the health benefits of deep breathing. 

 

What Is Deep Breathing?

Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, means taking slow, deep breaths on purpose. Diaphragmatic breathing involves the small muscle under the lungs known as the diaphragm. 

When you take a deep breath in, the diaphragm contracts and moves down to make room for the lungs to fill with air. When you breathe out and empty the lungs, the diaphragm relaxes and moves back up.[*

Deep breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, a system of nerves that run from the brain down to the large intestine. The vagus nerve controls involuntary functions in the body like your mood, immune system, digestive system, and heart rate. By stimulating the vagus nerve, deep breathing leads to relaxation and health benefits.[*

 

How Deep Breathing Works 

Deep breathing allows our bodies to relax because it helps to regulate the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for our “fight or flight” response and causes an increase in heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, it’s common to feel irritable and anxious as well.

When you take a deep breath and stimulate the vagus nerve, your parasympathetic nervous system is activated. As opposed to the “fight or flight” response, the parasympathetic nervous system causes a “rest and digest” response. When you trigger this system, your breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure all start to come down. You may also notice that you start to feel more like yourself and can think more clearly.

 

7 Benefits of Deep Breathing 

From a better mood to lowered blood pressure, deep breathing can improve your health in a variety of ways.[*]

Relieve Stress

Chronic stress affects just about every aspect of our health. It’s estimated that up to 60% to 80% of patient visits to primary healthcare providers are related to stress. Emotional stress has been linked to a higher number of office visits and incidence of disease.[*]

A 2017 study found that regular deep breathing practices can lead to an overall increased mood and lower stress level. Study participants experienced lower heart rates and cortisol levels after breathing deeply.[*] Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, has been linked with increased levels of inflammation and disease in the body.[*

Decrease Blood Pressure

Deep breathing has been found to lower blood pressure and help to prevent high blood pressure (hypertension).[*

A 2019 review found that deep breathing can produce a moderate decrease in blood pressure readings. The researchers suggested that deep breathing could be an effective first step in treating hypertension, especially for individuals who are hesitant to take medication to treat it.[*]

Reduce Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal condition that causes constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and cramping. IBS greatly affects one’s quality of life, and the symptoms can be triggered by stress. 

A 2020 study found that a daily deep breathing practice can improve IBS symptoms. The study also found that participants who took part in the deep breathing program reported improved moods and higher quality of life.[*]

Improve Chronic Pain

The way we breathe affects how the brain processes pain signals. Taking deep breaths has been shown to change the way the brain perceives pain and lowers the intensity. Deep breathing can also improve feelings of tension, anger, and depression in those who experience chronic pain.[*]

Improve Posture and Strength

Breathing deeply can help to strengthen the posture muscles in the body. A small 2017 study found that participating in a daily deep breathing program improved the posture of study participants.[*] Sitting upright provides more room for the lungs to breathe, so an improved posture can make breathing deeply feel easier.

Improve Lung Function in Asthma 

Asthma is a chronic lung condition that causes the airways to become inflamed and tightened. A 2020 Cochrane review concluded that regular deep breathing exercises can improve lung function in individuals with asthma. Not surprisingly, when people with asthma experienced better lung function, they also reported an increased quality of life.[*] Individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may experience the same benefits from deep breathing as well.[*]

Improve Cardiac Surgery Outcomes

Deep breathing is an important part of the recovery process after surgery. A 2015 study found daily deep breathing reduces the risk of complications after cardiac surgery.[*

 

How to Practice Deep Breathing

Although deep breathing is a simple practice, it takes effort and concentration to do it every day. To get started, find a comfortable place where you can relax and close your eyes. Try lying down and placing one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen. 

To begin diaphragmatic breathing, first, breathe out to empty your lungs. Next, take a deep breath in through your nose and feel your lungs expanding. If you’re doing it right, you’ll see both your chest and abdomen rise.

Once you have filled your lungs with air, exhale through your mouth (or your nose if you prefer) and notice your abdomen move down again. Try to blow out all of the air in your lungs, and then start again. 

While you are practicing deep breathing, you may notice your mind starting to wander. This is normal. Try to avoid judging yourself for this, and simply keep bringing your thoughts back to your breath. 

If you could use some more support in your deep breathing practice, consider using the Somnox 2 It breathes with you to help you breathe more deeply and evenly.

To begin a daily deep breathing practice, create a routine that works for you. Set aside a small corner of your home with everything you need. You may want to have a pillow to rest on, a clock or timer to keep track of the time, and the Somnox 2 to help guide your breathing pattern. 

As an extra motivational nudge, try setting a reminder on your phone or computer. Aim for one or two sessions per day to start and work your way up from there. Schedule time for deep breathing before bed and any stressful situations throughout the day. Once you develop the habit of deep breathing, you’ll likely notice the benefits right away.