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How can breath-training help you sleep better?

“Insomnia is a glamorous term for thoughts you forgot to have in the day.”

Alain de Botton

Most of us have experienced those frustrating nights, endlessly tossing and turning, unable to nod off. The goal of a good, restful night’s sleep can seem very distant.

So often we bring all our daytime stress and anxieties into bed with us.

Clearly, anything that can help us unwind, de-stress and get more of that precious shuteye would be a boon. The ancient traditions and practices of Yoga and meditation have plenty to offer the frazzled modern mind. And now, with some help from science and technology, we can play our part in the pursuit of better rest and wellbeing.

Many Airofit users report sleep benefits from their training, but what does the science say about the various benefits of RMT – respiratory muscle training.

RMT and Stress

The benefits of physical activity are well-documented. But for those who are unable to participate in the recommended levels of physical activity, or simply want an additional health boost, a short daily session of Airofit training has been shown to improve sleep and general wellness.

When combined with other breathing techniques and meditation, RMT can make a big difference to your stress levels and the quality of your sleep. Our app has a program for mindfulness and relaxation, and it can be performed anytime you need to calm yourself down and chill out.

Breathing techniques for better sleep

There are a number of breathing patterns that you can try to produce a calm, relaxed state and help you nod off.

There is the 4-7-8 breathing pattern. Or you can try Box breathing, well-known among yoga and meditation practitioners. And there’s also the Papworth Method of focused diaphragmatic breathing.

See more details in our free sleep guide.

Snoring and sleep apnea

“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”

Anthony Burgess

Loud snoring is sometimes treated as a bit of a joke, but it can be very disruptive (and annoying!) and may also be a sign of potentially serious health problems, like obstructive sleep apnea, which affects almost 1 billion people. It can be the source of much stress in relationships, depriving people of a good night’s rest. 

“Snoring can be caused by a number of factors, such as the anatomy of your mouth and sinuses, alcohol consumption, allergies, a cold, and your weight.” 
- Mayo Clinic 

Obstructive sleep apnea can lead to daytime fatigue, irritability, high blood pressure and heart problems. It can also increase the risk for developing diabetes and liver problems. 

Snoring or obstructive sleep apnea?

According to the Mayo clinic, not all snorers have OSA, but if you have any of the following symptoms, they recommend you should consult with your doctor:
• Witnessed breathing pauses during sleep
• Excessive daytime sleepiness
• Difficulty concentrating
• Morning headaches
• Sore throat upon awakening
• Restless sleep
• Gasping or choking at night
• High blood pressure
• Chest pain at night
• Your snoring is so loud it's disrupting your partner's sleep

OSA is more common in men, and risk factors include obesity, smoking and alcohol abuse, as well as a family history and certain medical conditions.

According to a study by the University of Arizona, breathing training improves sleep and cardiovascular health in Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Daily sessions of inspiratory muscle training for a period of 6 weeks resulted in a number of improvements, including a reduction in blood pressure, improvements in cardio-vascular health markers, a reduction in arousal from sleep and more time spent in NREM (consolidated) sleep.

In addition, the scores for Perceived sleep quality index (PSQI) improved considerably, compared with the placebo group.

According to a study by the University of Arizona:
"Breathing training improves sleep and cardiovascular health in Obstructive Sleep Apnea."

Daily sessions of inspiratory muscle training for a period of 6 weeks resulted in a number of improvements, including a reduction in blood pressure, improvements in cardio-vascular health markers, a reduction in arousal from sleep and more time spent in NREM (consolidated) sleep.

In addition, the scores for Perceived sleep quality index (PSQI) improved considerably, compared with the placebo group.

Jennifer R. Vranish and E. Fiona Bailey - The University of Arizona, Department of Physiology

Research shows that breath training also has benefits for a number of other medical conditions, including asthma, COPD, MS & long Covid. 

Aging, sleep & training

As people age they often experience a reduction in the quality and duration of their sleep. There are a number of reasons for this, including a drop in people’s activity levels, weight gain, and pain from various health conditions. The decline in sleep can then create further health problems, leading to a vicious cycle.

Like all muscles, our breathing muscles can be strengthened, and using the Airofit system means you can work out as hard or as gently as you choose. Just 5-10 minutes a day can result in a stronger diaphragm and increased available lung capacity. And the beauty of it is, you can do your training anywhere at any time, even before bedtime, if that suits you. 

Anxiety and Depression

Our state of mind can also have a huge impact on the quality of our sleep. There are many benefits from exercise and breath training for people who are experiencing anxiety or depression.

Studies have shown a link between the diaphragm and the parasympathetic nervous system through the Vagus nerve. Since Airofit works on strengthening the diaphragm, a short daily session should have a noticeable impact on symptoms.

Of course, you should always consult a doctor if anxiety or depression are keeping you awake or affecting your quality of life. And there are lots of helpful resources online, so you should never bear the burden alone. 

Sweet dreams are made of this

Aside from exercise and doing regular sessions with your Airofit, what other measures can you take to improve sleep quality?

You’ve probably seen all sorts of products and ‘miraculous’ cures for better sleep. But if crystals and exotic herbs are not your thing, there are some science-supported ways to get more ZZZZs.

• Keep your bedroom cool, very dark, and free from clutter
• If you can’t get it dark enough, try a sleep mask
• Invest in a good mattress & pillow that suit your preferences
• Cut out noise – a decent pair of earplugs can work wonders
• Avoid too much screen time before bedtime
• Don’t bring your phone to bed!
• Avoid caffeine late in the day / evening
• Don’t use alcohol to help you sleep!
• Take a warm bath or shower
• Try some gentle yoga and meditation exercises
• Try to stick to a consistent schedule for sleeping / waking

Of course, for many people, some of the factors for a good night’s rest are outside of their control. Shift workers, new parents, or those with less-than-ideal living situations can struggle to get all the ingredients right. The trick is not to become obsessed by how much sleep you are getting. That just piles on the pressure! Just do what you can, be kind to yourself, and, if insomnia is a major problem that is affecting your quality of life, speak to your physician and see what other help might be available.

Poor sleep habits may be one of the most universal maladies of the modern age. But if we learn to adopt some smart strategies to tackle it, we can radically improve our overall health and happiness.

Breath-training with Airofit, alongside meditation and relaxation techniques, has been shown to make a significant difference to people’s quality of sleep. But if you still can’t seem to get enough shut-eye at night, you can always take a lesson from our feline friends and take a short cat-nap.