Sleep & Breathing

The importance of breathing and sleep.

While everyone knows that death or brain damage will result from a lack of oxygen, very few  know that less acute but  chronic oxygen deprivation can have devastating effects. 

Mouth breathing can cause a change in  facial and dental development. Poor  sleeping habits that interfere with the growth and academic performance.


The damage may show up during childhood as neurobehavioural and neurocognitive disorders, but consequences an adulthood  extend to increase risk of cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, cardiac mortality, and dementia.

In adulthood, mouth breathing can cause pure oxygen concentration in the bloodstream, which can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, and sleep apnoea.


Breathing Problems

            There are many causes of an obstructed airway. 

  1. Zero blockage: Breathing through the nose is easy, free, and  full. The cells of the body are fully oxygenated.
  2. Mouth breathing: Breathing through the nose is mildly difficult to impossible, so the person breathes  through the mouth, part  or all of the night. This makes the air intake dry  and interferes with sleep.
  3. Snoring: Snoring occurs when both nose and mouth breathing are compromised, and the membranes and structures of the airways vibrate with the pressure of air being forced through the narrow channels.
  4. Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) and Hypoapnea:    Characterised by the increased efforts required for inhailing without incident for blockage (apneas). Symptoms include sleepiness and harms/severity of effects convention snoring to OSA
  5. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA): occurs when the airway is  completely obstructed for 10 seconds or more at a time, causing intermittent nocturnal oxygen deprivation. A gasp reflex follows, pulling the brain up out of deep REM and NREM sleep and thus disrupting sleep architecture, sometimes hundreds of times a night.

Basics of sleep

Daily sleep/wake cycle: The daily cycle of sleeping and being awake is controlled by two complementary forces that should be synchronised: circadian rhythm and sleep pressure. The circadian rhythm, a roughly 24 hours cycle, powers wakefulness and peaks in early afternoon. The body sets this internal clock using routine external cues from daylight or eating. Sleep pressure creates sleepiness and results from the buildup of adenosine throughout the day and the clearance of it during the night. Maximum wakefulness occurs when the circadian rhythm speaking and sleep pressure is low.


Sleep architecture: The two major stage categories are REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement). The stages occur in cycles with NREM weighed more to the end. Each stage serves many purposes, but at a higher level REM sleep strengthens connections in the brain and NREM prunes away unused  connections. Deep REM sleep is particularly important, because it’s when the glymphatic system activates.

Memory Consolidation:  This is the  nightly process of strengthening new memories and pruning away unused information. 


Detoxification through the glymphatic System:    The brain detoxification system activates during NREM deep sleep and functionally washes the brain, clearing away unhealthy proteins. 


A good night’s sleep together with proper breathing is essential in providing the rest to start up the next day with vigour, energy, enthusiasm and continued  good health.

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