Every athlete knows that mouth breathing is unavoidable while training and competing. It’s when the practice becomes a habit, especially when sleeping, that recovery is impeded. Here’s why...
Human Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone is essential for muscle repair and development. Natural human growth hormone is released into the blood supply when you enter the deeper stages of sleep. To reach REM-stage sleep you must sleep uninterrupted for 20 to 30 minutes.
Breathing through your mouth during sleep can cause sleep arousals that impede your transition into REM-stage sleep, the most restorative part of the sleep cycle. Once you are aroused from sleep you stop the transition into deep sleep and start moving through light sleep again, which reduces your time spent in deep REM sleep during the night.
Nose breathing delivers calm, deep, restorative sleep and is a natural, drug-free way to maximise and replenish human growth hormone every night.
Strenuous activity builds up lactic acid that causes tissue hypoxia (cramp) in muscles. Lactic acid build-up is regulated by nitric oxide.
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.
Stages of sleep.
There are two types of sleep, namely Non Rapid Eye Movement-sleep (NREM), divided into four stages, and Rapid Eye Movement-sleep (REM). The onset of sleep under normal circumstances in adult humans is through NREM-sleep. Stage-one sleep is light sleep, and generally persists for only a few (one to seven) minutes. Stage two usually lasts from 10 to 20 minutes. The sleeper then moves to stage three and finally into stage four sleep, the stage of deepest sleep. Normal functions such as blood pressure, respiration and heart rate diminish. Stage-four NREM-sleep generally lasts for about 20 to 40 minutes in the first cycle.
After 30 to 40 minutes, REM-sleep begins. The brain reactivates into a fast-activity state. Blood flow, heart rate, respiration, body temperature and blood pressure of the person rise, and the eyes, underneath closed eyelids, dart back and forth as if scanning the environment, which may be accompanied by intermittent small muscle twitching.
REM-sleep episodes become longer as sleep progresses, with the longest REM-sleep episodes occurring in early morning. In normal adults, 20-25% of total sleep time is spent in REM-sleep. Dreams are often experienced during REM-sleep and REM-sleep has also been called “dream sleep”. It has been proposed that memory consolidation occurs during this time. REM-sleep is thus essential when complex techniques or tactics are being learnt or explored and new motor skills are acquired.
In adults, cycles of NREM-sleep and REM-sleep recur within a period of 90 to 100 minutes. NREM- or slow-wave-sleep makes up approximately 75-80% of this time and REM-sleep the remaining 20-25%, occurring in four to six episodes. If sleep loss was experienced for one or more nights, slow-wave sleep will be prominent. REM-sleep will recover only after the recuperation of slow-wave sleep.
Chronic deprivation of nocturnal sleep, an irregular sleep schedule or frequent disturbance of nocturnal sleep can result in changed distribution of sleep stages. It is most frequently characterised by premature REM-sleep: sleep onset with REM-sleep.
Role of sleep for well-being and performance.
Sleep serves multiple purposes. It has been emphasized that sleep helps, for example, with physical and psychological restoration and recovery, conservation of energy, memory consolidation, discharge of emotions, brain growth and maintenance of the immune system. Although the complexities of sleep are not yet fully understood, sleep is essential for physical and emotional health and it plays a significant role in recovery from illness and injury. Sleep loss, on the other hand, leads to a general decline in performance.
Physiological growth and repair.
Although the body is continually in a process of revitalization, this process peaks during stage-three and stage-four sleep. Physiological processes that cause this effect during slow- wave sleep are facilitated by metabolic activity being at its lowest at this point, as well as an increased secretion of growth hormone by the endocrine system. Significant neuro-endocrine activity is present with the release of growth and sexual-maturation hormones.
More than 95% of the daily production of these hormones occurs during NREM-sleep. In normal young adults, the 24-hour profile of growth hormone secretion takes place at low levels, which is intermittently interrupted by large secretary pulses. Major secretion usually occurs shortly after sleep onset in temporal association with the first episode of slow-wave sleep. A large pulse of growth hormone secretion occurs more than 90% of the time during the first slow-wave period, and there is a quantitative relationship between the duration of the slow-wave stages and the simultaneous amount of growth hormone secreted.
NREM-sleep is considered to be the time during which the body can repair and restore itself. Sleep deprivation is therefore regarded as a stressor that has a significant detrimental effect on physiological growth and repair.
(Carskadon, Dement, Drust, Davenne, Samuels, Gunning, Van Cauter, Nadler, Walters, Loehr, Schwartz et al)
Updated August 27th 2017
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