The Benefits of Nose Breathing Over Mouth Breathing

Have you ever wondered whether it’s better to breathe through your nose or your mouth? I even asked my cat Maria, who seems to prefer using her nostrils—perhaps she’s onto something.

Indeed, many animals, like horses, rabbits, and rodents, predominantly breathe through their noses, allowing them to continue eating while breathing without interruption. We humans and adult dogs, however, have the option to breathe through either our nose or our mouth, but there are compelling reasons to favor the former.

Why Nose Breathing?

  • Natural Design for Breathing: The nose is anatomically tailored for breathing, allowing air to flow in and out effortlessly.
  • Built-in Filters: Equipped with mucous membranes and tiny hairs, the nose traps germs and airborne particles, preventing them from reaching deeper into the respiratory system.
  • Temperature Regulation: The nose adjusts the temperature of incoming air—warming cold air and cooling warm air—to ensure it’s at the optimal temperature for efficient gas exchange in the lungs.
  • Volume Regulation: Nostrils help regulate the volume of air intake, similar to how you avoid overfilling a car with fuel, ensuring a balanced and sufficient air supply.
  • Air Purification: Air is cleansed as it exits through the nasal passages, purifying it before it interacts with the environment.

The Unique Nasal Cycle

Interestingly, humans typically favor breathing through one nostril at a time, switching between the two periodically. This natural process, known as the nasal cycle, is thought to enhance our sense of smell and improve overall nasal health by giving each side a chance to rest and recover.

Mouth Breathing: A Less Favorable Alternative

While breathing through the mouth is sometimes necessary, especially during intense physical exertion, music making or when nasal passages are blocked, it’s not ideal for everyday breathing. Mouth breathing can (indeed always!) activate a fight-or-flight response, which isn’t something we need more of in our already stressful lives. By simply breathing through your nose, you can help keep yourself calmer.

Many people who are accustomed to mouth breathing feel they can’t get enough air through their noses at first, but this can improve with practice. I encourage you to try it—just for this breath—and see how it feels.

In conclusion, while mouth breathing has its place, the numerous benefits of nose breathing—from filtering to regulating air intake and temperature—make it the superior choice for everyday respiratory function. Give it a try and experience the difference in your overall wellbeing.

Written by Lucy Ascham, Body & Soul Energy Expert

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