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airway health & sleep

Learn more about how breathing impacts your wellbeing: airway disorders, sleep & mental health

 

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Dive right in and explore these common airway health & sleep FAQs to help guide you in the right direction.

What is your airway?

From your very first breath at birth to the final exhale that will leave your body, your life depends upon your airway.


Your airway consists of a complex network of tubes that enable air to enter and exit your body with each inhale and exhale. Depending on its severity, an airway obstruction decreases or completely blocks the flow of air to your lungs.
Whether you are awake or asleep, young or old, healthy or sick, your survival depends upon your ability to bring air into your body to your lungs. This impacts your body in more ways than you probably imagined.

Click here to read more about your airway. 

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Why is your airway so important?

By ensuring a steady stream of air to your system, a healthy airway allows your cells to grow, your brain to function, and your body to move. Without breath, your body quickly shuts down. All of your body’s systems including the respiratory, circulatory, digestive, nervous, and immune systems, depend upon a functioning airway.

Click here to read more about how airway health affects every major system in your body. 

 


The surprising effects of airway disorders

Airway disorders and disordered breathing hamper the body’s many systems with consequences that affect virtually every aspect of health.


Sleep-related issues:
  • Snoring
  • Restless sleep
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia

Dental issues:
  • Dental caries
  • Teeth grinding
  • Dental disease

Mental health and behavioral issues:
  • Dementia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Hyperactivity

Respiratory issues:
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Chronic respiratory infections

Serious and chronic health issues:
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Migraine headaches
  • Chronic pain
  • Excess weight

Click here to read more about your the effects of airway issues and disordered breathing.  

Nasal breathing vs. mouth breathing

In a healthy airway, the nose and nasal cavity are able to fulfill their unique roles and maintain optimum oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood. Nasal breathing (inhaling and then exhaling exclusively through the nose) provides many benefits for well-being in both the short and long-term. The nose is the safest and most efficient way to bring air into the lungs. In contrast to this, disordered breathing often involves some degree of mouth breathing.

Click here to see a side-by-side comparison between nasal breathing and mouth breathing.

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Effects of disordered breathing from infancy to adulthood

Airway obstructions and disordered breathing affect virtually all parts of the body and systems, which is why the signs and symptoms are so varied. The longer you have an impaired airway, the more effects it will cause with each passing year. Disordered breathing has a lot to do with patterns, habits, and compensation for an obstruction.

Keep reading to find out about the effects of disordered breathing at each stage of life.


What causes chronic airway obstruction?

There are many causes of chronic airway obstruction, including:

  • deviated septum - this is when the thin wall between your nasal passages is displaced to one side, causing one part of the nasal cavity to be larger than the other.
  • oral restriction (such as tongue tie, lip tie, or buccal tie) — this is when an oral tether in the mouth is too short, too tight, or too thick, restricting normal tongue mobility and hampering healthy oral function.


Keep reading to see other causes of chronic airway obstruction.


Quality of breath = quality of life

The roles of breath and sleep in mental health are too often ignored in mainstream mental health treatment. Thankfully, this is starting to change.

James Nestor's groundbreaking book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art explores how we can harness knowledge from ancient breathing techniques to radically improve our physical and mental health. Science is proving what ancient cultures have told us for millennia — the quality of your breath directly affects the quality of your life.

Click here to learn about how your breathing affects your quality of life. 

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Airway disorders, sleep & mental health

Sleep is fundamental to mental and physical health, mood, and quality of life.

Sleep is fundamental to mental and physical health, mood, and quality of life. When you fall asleep at night, your subconscious handles all of your basic physical functions like breathing and heart rate until you wake up. If your airway is compromised, your body will interrupt sleep to keep you alive. Poor sleep and disordered sleep, such as insomnia, restless sleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia) are often related to an airway issue.

Airway health is directly linked to many aspects of overall well-being, including sleep and mental health. Sleep disorders like insomnia, restless sleep, and obstructive sleep apnea are closely linked to airway obstruction issues. Similarly, mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity are also closely connected to airway obstruction and sleep problems.

Click here to read more about the connection between airway health, mental health and sleep.
 

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Could poor breathing patterns be a cause of mental illness?

Most people know that disordered breathing can be a symptom of mental health issues such as anxiety or schizophrenia. If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know that it often entails quick and shallow breathing and is often accompanied by a feeling of “not being able to catch your breath.”

It is clear that too much shallow, quick breathing affects your psychological state. Few people realize that poor breathing patterns can actually contribute to mental health issues like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and dementia over time.

 

Keep reading about the connection between breath and mental health. 

Sleep apnea and snoring

If you have sleep apnea, your breathing is interrupted — starting and stopping abruptly during sleep. People with sleep apnea have been known to have hundreds of episodes in which they stop breathing during the night. This is often accompanied by loud snoring. Some report a gagging or choking sensation or waking up gasping for air. A small jaw bone and oral restriction such as a tongue tie can contribute to sleep apnea.

 

Click here to read more about sleep apnea and snoring. 

What to do if you think you have an airway issue or disordered breathing

Getting to the bottom of your airway issue

Most people with a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea are put on a CPAP machine or medicated with pharmaceuticals to manage symptoms. However, this type of approach fails to address the root cause. If you are looking to get to the bottom of your airway issue, the first step is to surround yourself with trusted healthcare professionals who understand airway health, breathing and sleep disorders.

How you can address your insomnia (and other sleep disorders)

Sleep is vital to health. Yet millions of people don’t sleep enough or get the quality of sleep they need to thrive. Inadequate sleep is linked to increased obesity, reduced cognitive function, and even mental health problems like anxiety and depression.

You’ve probably heard of oral hygiene — the best practices to promote a healthy mouth and prevent problems like gum disease and cavities. Sleep hygiene refers to both the environment and behaviors that set you up for a good night’s rest.

Here are 10 ways to reset your sleep habits and resolve underlying issues so you can wake up refreshed and ready to conquer your day!

 

Click here for sleep hygiene tips to ease insomnia and other sleep disorders.

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Modern-day breathing problems

The cost of forgetting the ancient art of breathing is high. Disordered breathing and breathing problems are linked to a number of health issues including mouth breathing, sleep apnea, teeth grinding (bruxism), snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, which often leads to reliance on a CPAP machine. Many adults who fall asleep at the wheel are unaware that they are suffering from a lack of air due to undiagnosed and untreated airway obstruction.

Factors that lead to airway obstruction

There are many things that can obstruct your airway, blocking the amount of air getting into your body. An obstructed airway can be caused by many issues such as a physical blockage or inflammation.

  • The modern industrial diet, which is the norm in much of the world, consists of mushy processed foods. These soft foods require minimal chewing. This leads to weak oro-facial muscles and underdeveloped jaws. With a mouth and jaw that are too small for the face, crowded teeth, alignment problems and poor posture often follow. All of these issues can contribute to airway obstruction.

  • Untreated oral restrictions such as tongue tie, lip tie, and buccal tie can obstruct your airway by reducing the tongue’s mobility and tone, making it more likely to fall back into the mouth during sleep.

Keep reading here to find out about other root causes of breathing problems.

 


The ancient art of breathing

Ancient civilizations around the world knew the importance of breath and its direct impact on health, longevity and vitality.

Somehow, we modern humans have lost touch with just how important breathing is, or even how to breathe correctly. Most of us were never taught the breathing techniques and practices that our ancient ancestors knew so well. We’ve forgotten the ancient art of breathing, and it is taking a toll on our mental and physical well-being.

In his bestselling book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art James Nestor writes about the breathing problems that most modern humans have and don’t even realize. Nestor lays out modern scientific evidence demonstrating what humans already knew millennia ago — that the quality of your breath shapes the quality (and length) of your life.

Could the ancient art of breathing help prevent and even reverse many of the most common mental and physical ailments of the modern world?

Click here to read about ancient breathing techniques for modern-day airway issues.  

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The impact of chronic stress

Chronic stress has been linked to anxiety, eating disorders, diabetes, and heart problems. Too much time in the sympathetic state can also negatively affect your immune system, putting you at risk of increased infection. This means that if your daily life is full of stress, you are at a higher risk of disease. You’re more likely to get sick more often, and when you do get sick it can take you longer to recover.

Click here to read about the connection between chronic stress and your breathing patterns.

What is email apnea?

As more and more people spend their days at desks in front of screens, a troubling new issue known as email apnea is gaining attention. Unlike sleep apnea, which is when your breathing is temporarily obstructed during sleep, email apnea is what happens when you spend your day in a perpetual state of distraction.

Keep reading about email apnea and what it means for your health.

How to de-stress your life

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to increase your time in “rest and digest” mode. You can start by becoming conscious of your breath. In moments of stress, it is especially beneficial to focus on a long exhale. Healthier, slower breathing patterns can bring you back to the parasympathetic state.

Find out what you can do to de-stress your life and establish healthy breathing patterns.

Meditation

Meditation is an ancient practice that brings your awareness to the present moment. The practice of meditation involves training your attention and bringing consciousness to your breath, often with the help of specific breathing patterns and techniques. Meditation helps to reduce distracting thoughts and clear away negative feelings. People who meditate on a regular basis, even for a few minutes a day, report an increased sense of peace and well-being.

Click here to read about how meditation and mindfulness practices can improve your breathing.

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The science of Yoga

Today, pranayama is used to describe yogic breathing exercises that unblock the flow of prana (life force energy) in the body. Science is only beginning to study the physiological benefits of yoga and yogic breathing on the body.

Click here to learn more about the link between yoga, kriya, pranamaya and airway health.

Breathing systems for the modern world

Breathing systems like Tummo and Wim Hof use breathing techniques similar to those found within yoga, yet do not require the practitioner to ascribe to a specific religious or spiritual belief. This means that powerful, ancient breathing practices can be used by secular people outside of a spiritual or religious framework. This is important to avoid misusing or appropriating a breathing practice that belongs within a specific spiritual, cultural or religious context..

Click here to learn more about breath systems like Tummo and Wim Hof.

 


 

Build your personal circle of care

The health:latch circle was created to help parents, patients and caregivers connect with health professionals who can help them with all aspects of care for oral restrictions.

You can get answers from specialists and connect with Proceduralists, Functionalists, and Structuralists who understand oral restrictions and are committed to helping families thrive.

By bringing together healthcare professionals across a variety of fields, the health:latch circle helps parents and patients to assemble a personalized team to accompany and guide their journey towards better health.

 

Follow these 3 easy steps to receive the care you deserve:

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1. LEARN from articles, videos and research studies about oral restrictions.

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2. TRUST the circle to guide you and find the answers and care you're looking for.

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3. THRIVE by growing your unique circle of healthcare providers who can help.

start building your circle.

Build your personal team of trusted healthcare professionals ready to work together and help you get the answers you need.

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