Last updated: 24/10/2016
If you’re an ambitious athlete that’s looking to gain that extra edge over your opponents then this post on sleep quality and recovery could be the performance advantage you’ve been waiting for.
Sleep management, and how it affects an athlete’s recovery after training and competing, is often limited to creating a strict sleeping schedule, sleeping at least 8 hours every night and waking up at the same time every morning to train. Theoretically, maintaining this regime will result in your body having recovered 100% overnight and be ready for more training the next day.
Sadly, this limited understanding of sleep may have resulted in thousands of athletes underperforming without knowing why. Recent research has indicated that simply breathing through your nose as opposed to breathing though your mouth when asleep may increase sleep quality and boost recovery immensely.
Here are the 3 ways mouth breathing during sleep impedes recovery and ultimately an athlete’s performance.
When you sleep your body transitions through several stages of sleep starting with NREM or light sleep and eventually into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep is the stage athletes need to maximize because it’s the stage where Human Growth Hormone is released into the body.
Human Growth Hormone assists in repairing damaged or stressed muscles and muscle tissue, which helps to boost recovery. However, research has shown that mouth breathing while sleeping interrupts sleep more than anything except stress and each interruption or arousal delays the release of Human Growth Hormone, meaning that your muscles’ ability to grow and repair is significantly hindered when mouth breathing.
If you want to ensure a quicker recovery of muscles and good sleep quality without REM interruption always nasal breathe when sleeping.
It’s commonly known that REM sleep helps process and imprint spatial memory, new motor skills and muscle reflexes into your subconscious.
Therefore, if you’re a sportsman and you’re looking to learn a new technique, memorize new game tactics or increase your muscle reflexes it’s vital that you make it a habit to nasal-only breathe while sleeping. Mouth breathing will only work against your memory and performance by disrupting your valuable REM sleep stages.
Strenuous activity builds up lactic acid that causes tissue hypoxia (cramp) in muscles. Lactic acid build-up is regulated by nitric oxide and nasal nitric oxide is produced in the nasal and sinus passages only during nasal breathing. Mouth breathing does not produce nitric oxide.
Nasal breathing also increases circulation, blood oxygen, carbon dioxide/ph levels, lung volume and heart efficiency and decreases water loss by more than 40%, helping to maintain hydration.
Keep lactic acid under control by making sleepQ+ part of your sleep management routine.
So the clear message is, when it comes to sports recovery and top performance nasal-breathers are winners.
Nasal breathing while sleeping will not only help your muscles grow and repair faster, boost your memory and prevent muscle cramps but will also help to decrease dehydration, conserve energy and boost your immune system.
These are all factors that are immensely valuable in the context of highly competitive sports, especially when it comes to boosting recovery. As an athlete, the last thing you want to hear after a big event is that all your effort in training went to waste because mouth breathing reduced your sleep quality and your recovery.
Sadly, many could-be-amazing athletes fall short because they don’t pay enough attention to their sleep habits. For the sake of your sporting career, make this one simple change of not mouth breathing when sleeping and watch as you demolish your competition with the extra edge a quicker recovery provides.