Did you know that the number of breaths per minute during normal healthy breathing is about 10 to 12? Each breath takes in approximately 500 ml of air. As described in any University medical textbook, this amount provides a healthy volume of five to six litters of air per minute. A normal breathing pattern is quiet, still, calm, relaxed, and regular.
People suffering from snoring and sleep apnoea breathe in more air than the normally accepted amounts. For example, this group commonly takes 15 to 20 breaths per minute, with each breath taking in more than the normal 500 ml of air. Assuming that each breath is 700 ml, the average breathing volume for this person is 10 to 15 litres of air per minute.
This over-breathing or hyper-ventilation does not add any more oxygen to the blood, as it is normally 97–98% saturated. Instead, it causes a loss of the gas carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is not just a waste gas. For oxygen to be released from the red blood cells, carbon dioxide must be present. Suffice to say that the heavier you breathe, the less oxygen is delivered to tissues and organs.
Listen to the breathing of someone who snores or has sleep apnoea. Without a doubt, you will find it to be heavy, noisy and loud.
WHAT CAUSES SNORING?
Snoring, often the subject of jokes about rattling the windows and waking the baby, has a much more serious side. Left untreated, snoring may progress into sleep apnoea, high blood pressure or cardiovascular complaints. Not to mention the disruption it causes to sleeping partners.
Simply, snoring is a sound created from turbulent airflow. It is noisy breathing during sleep caused by the exchange of a large volume of air through a narrowed space, which in turn causes the tissues of the nose and throat to vibrate. Snoring can affect any member of the family, regardless of age, from granny to toddler. An estimated 45% of men and 30% of women snore habitually.
The question to ask is whether you would snore if your breathing was calm and quiet?
Healthy non-snorers breathe quietly through their nose. Their sleep is deep and undisturbed, and they wake up refreshed.
People who breathe heavily during the night experience a wide array of symptoms, such as snoring, sleep apnoea, disrupted sleep, insomnia, needing to use the toilet, and waking up fatigued with a dry mouth and a possible blocked nose.
Snorers snore through their mouth, their nose, or both their nose and mouth.
Snoring through the mouth is the easiest to address. Such snoring stops when one learns to breathe through his or her nose during sleep.
Snoring through the nose stops when one unblocks the nose and corrects his or her breathing volume to normal levels. By learning to unblock the nose, switching to nasal breathing, and normalising breathing volume, breathing will be quiet, calm, and still throughout the night and nasal snoring will cease.
While most treatments for snoring such as nasal decongestants, nasal strips, surgery and dental appliances aim to expand the airways to make more room for airflow, the Buteyko Method, in addition to expanding the airways, normalises breathing volume.