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Better Sleep with Better Breathing

Better Sleep with Better Breathing
Posted on 04/10/2024

Are you getting enough sleep? Do you have a difficult time going to sleep or staying asleep? For optimal health, it’s vitally important to get quality sleep. Yet, according to cited information in a recent online article at sleepfoundation.org, more than one-third of people nationwide report sleeping less than seven hours nightly, and almost half report experiencing trouble with falling or staying asleep.

Finding ways to improve your sleep quality and your bedtime habits can help to combat concerns of sleep deprivation such as:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Moodiness
  • Laziness and apathy
  • Nodding off at inopportune times
  • Relying on caffeinated drinks or other such stimulants

Breathing exercises can be a simple and easy way to wind down, as well as an aid in stress management. Below are some practical tips and exercises you may wish to try.

Belly Breathing

Taking shallow breaths, which typically use neck and chest muscles, is common – particularly during times of stress. Deeper belly (or abdominal) breathing, however, focuses on taking slower, more relaxed breaths which use the diaphragm. Sitting or lying comfortably, put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, just above your belly button. As you take a deep breath through your nose, the hand on your belly should move more than the one on your chest. During exhale, your belly hand should fall slowly. It should rise and fall as you attempt to breathe using your diaphragm. Count each breath, repeating several times before relaxing and returning to normal breathing.

Rhythmic Breathing

Practicing a technique known as 4-7-8 breathing can reduce anxiety and promote relaxed sleep. After completely emptying your lungs, while keeping your mouth closed, inhale through your nose as you count to 4. Hold that breath for a count of 7, then slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat the exercise several times, then

Box Breathing

Visualizing a box with 4 sides can help you remember this technique, which denotes the pattern and length of each breath. After exhaling, slowly inhale through your nose while you count to 4. Hold that breath for a count of 4, then exhale through your mouth for another count of 4. After that exhale, hold your breath for a final count of 4. Repeat the process as needed.

The above exercises were just a few of many that may help to reduce stress, making you feel less anxious and allowing you to rest better. We will explore additional techniques in next month’s article. Meanwhile, particularly if sleep solutions are needed for assistance with snoring and such, discuss your concerns with your dentist or medical professional. Your dentist is in a good position to assess issues in your airway during an exam, offer options, and work directly with a sleep specialist to ensure you are able to get the quantity and quality of sleep you need.

Contact Your Dentist in Macon

If you have questions about sleep solutions or oral appliance therapy for snoring and sleep apnea, you can schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Sheila Shah at MaconSmiles. With over 20 years of caring for patients, the team of experts at MaconSmiles can assist you with all the information you need for your best smile… and your best sleep! Call 478-845-1248 or visit www.MaconSmiles.com.

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