Around this time four years ago, I was really struggling. The stress of having a new baby, buying a home, and going door-to-door selling pest control was spirling me down into a deeper depression.
One night (or should I say morning?) it was 3:00 a.m. and Karli came out of the bedroom. I was sitting upright in a sofa chair mindlessly watching SportsCenter reruns–my nightly ritual.
“Why don’t you come to bed? You need to get up in a few hours.” She asked gently.
“If I go to bed, I’ll just have to repeat this same day over again.” I responded.
I cringe nowadays when I think about those Summer nights. I was in a funk. And I couldn’t get myself out of it.
There were a lot of variables that went into that stressful season of my life, but one of those was sleep. I couldn’t get myself to stay asleep longer than a few hours. During this time, I came across Dr. Matthew Walker’s sleep research. I thought if I could fix my sleep, some of the other balls I was juggling would fix themselves.
One night, I remember reading something about the pituitary gland, specifically that “mouthbreathers” have a harder time staying in deep stages of sleep. That gland is supposedly influenced when breathing through your mouth, and will cause you to wake up more often in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water.
Walker then recommended sleeping with duct tape over your mouth in order to force yourself to breath through your nose. So, I started doing it. And it surprisingly helped!
I started to sleep through the night and dream more often. I felt refreshed in the morning and had more energy throughout the day.
A few months later, I was back to normal and out of my funk.
Taping my mouth shut at night didn’t pull me out of that depressed season. But it definitely helped me sleep better. I no longer sleep this way, but have since believed that there is something significant about breathing more often through your nose.
A great book on the topic is “Breath” by James Nestor. I got into his Nestor’s writings after hearing about his small experiment of plugging his nose for 10-days. Under the direction of a few scientists, he and some others jammed swabs up their nose to block any oxygen from entering the nasal cavity.
The findings were fascinating to me. After only 10-days, they snored 90 extra minutes during the night, developed a mild case for sleep apnea, increased their blood pressure, and lost a significant amount of brain cells.
Breathing is a new science of a lost art.
If you haven’t taken time in a while to just relax and breath through your nose, do it.
There are so many stressors in your life, that if you’re not careful, you could find yourself on a sofa chair like me in the wee hours of the morning watching reruns.
A good life starts with a good breath.
Sit criss-cross with your mouth closed for 10-minutes.
*I know, sounds crazy. But I bet you can’t do it!