Slow, gentle nasal breathing offers huge benefits for our sleep and health and wellbeing.

How to Benefit from Nasal Breathing

How we breathe has a major impact on our health – and our sleep. Far too many of us don’t just not breathe properly, but breathe in a way that is harmful.

In this blog, I’m going to be looking at what we are doing wrong and showing you techniques that can help you to breathe properly.

The first thing to say is that breathing through the mouth, although it may seem obvious, is not the way to breathe properly.

Science has known for a long time that breathing through the nose actually forces air to get heated, pressurised, filtered and conditioned, thus allowing the lungs to extract oxygen from our breath much more fluently and efficiently. Breathing through the mouth, by contrast, provides none of those benefits.

Dentists have been aware of the impact of mouth breathing on children’s teeth and jaws for a long time.

Yet breathing in AND out through the nose can seem counterintuitive. Often, we feel as if we have to think about the process, whereas breathing should (obviously) come naturally.

Certainly, the first time I tried it after years of breathing out through my mouth, I found myself being woken with a start as I started to snore gently!

As well as switching to nasal breathing, here are three simple breathing techniques for you to try. Once you know them, you will be able to do it automatically, and so use them anywhere.

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Day to Day Breathing

As you go through your day – walking, exercising, working, or relaxing, breathe in and out through your nose.  Yes, you can eventually learn to do this even when jogging!

Focus on slow, gentle, and silent breaths, from the diaphragm. 

Aim to really reduce the amount of air you take in each minute.

The next step is to make the out- breathe longer than the in-breath, and then pause before you breathe in again.

You will forget and that is fine – just do it when you remember.


Alternate Nasal Breathing

You can use Alternate Nasal Breathing is to centre and focus. It involves breathing through each nostril alternately. Alternating between the nostrils helps you to calm, centre, focus and become present. As it helps you calm and focus, it is great to use it during the day, and you can use it night too as you are winding down or relaxing in bed. Here’s how to do it.

  • Make sure you are sitting comfortably. You are welcome to close your eyes if it helps.
  • Put your right index finger up against your right nostril to close it off and then breathe OUT AND IN through your left nostril.
  • Then, with your thumb against your left nostril, breathe OUT AND IN through your right nostril.

You can do this for as long as you want – 30 seconds or a few minutes.

All the time that you are doing this, make sure your mouth is firmly closed so that you get the full benefit.

Left Nostril Breathing

Left nostril breathing is for sleep and relaxation. To do it, first make sure you are sitting down.

  • Breathe IN through your LEFT nostril. ( think ‘left in’)
  • Breathe OUT through your RIGHT nostril (think ‘right out”)
  • Repeat for 10 – 20 breaths.

Start off with say 10 – 25 breathes as you are sitting. Do not do this for too long, as it can make you lightheaded.

Right Nostril Breathing.

Right nostril breathing is for energy and is great to help you wake up and get in the zone, so it is pretty well the opposite of Left Nostril Breathing. To do it, first make sure you are sitting down.

  • Breathe IN through your RIGHT nostril.
  • Breathe OUT through your LEFT nostril.
  • Repeat for 10 – 20 breaths.

This is fine, it’s all part of the process of learning to breathe properly and getting the benefits of that.

Certainly, the first time I tried it after years of breathing out through my mouth, I found myself being woken with a start as I started to snore gently!


As with all of these techniques, it takes time but once you are used to it, this type of breathing becomes second nature. It will help you remain calm in the day and help you to sleep better at night.

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