Nose breathing: benefits & how to make it a habit?

Nasenatmung: Vorteile & wie zur Gewohnheit machen?

According to Patrick McKeown, author of The Breathing Cure, “The nose is for breathing, the mouth is for eating.” Of course, the mouth and nose are responsible for other tasks as well.

But the most important part of this equation is that we should breathe through our nose most of the time. Breathing habitually through your nose has various positive effects. And conversely, mouth breathing has some disadvantages.

The pitfalls of mouth breathing

Habitual mouth breathing as a result of our stressful culture leads to a number of pitfalls.

Just to name a few: sleep apnea, dehydration, oral health problems or hyperventilation.

The latter, overbreathing (= hyperventilation), is often overlooked. Excessive breathing can have serious effects on our overall health by causing suboptimal blood oxygenation of our tissues and triggering the “fight or flight” nerve response. This reaction causes the body to release epinephrine and cortisol, which makes us feel stressed. When we make shallow, frantic mouth breathing a routine, we become chronically anxious and stressed.

Ancient and intuitive wisdom

The benefits of nasal breathing have been known intuitively for thousands of years.

In Native American cultures, mothers lightly covered their babies' mouths with a finger to encourage nasal breathing. And the elders pushed their youth to do so by challenging them to run long distances with water in their mouths. At the end of the run, the elders asked them to spit out the water to show that they were only breathing through their noses.

Komuso monks in 17th-century Japan used a flute-like instrument called a shakuhachi — which came to Japan as early as the 7th century during the Hōki period — to focus their breathing and help them meditate. In the same way that the hōki lengthens the exhalation, the shakuhachi also helped the monks flip the switch on the nervous system and calm their bodies.

2 Benefits of Nasal Breathing

Of course, there are many other benefits of nasal breathing, but these are the benefits mentioned that are the most powerful. If you have any questions about other benefits, just send us an email or tag us on social media.

Release of nitric oxide

Nitric oxide is a molecule naturally produced by our body. One of the most important functions of this molecule is vasodilation, which leads to increased blood flow. It has also been linked to the brain's production of endorphins and dopamine, reducing the stress response and increasing our ability to deeply relax and connect.

Breathing through the nose stimulates the release of nitric oxide in the nasal passages and sinuses, which opens the airways and blood vessels, calms us, and has antimicrobial (antibacterial/antifungal/antiviral) properties.

The Goldilocks effect

The nose is a wonderfully adaptable biological structure, perfectly designed for optimal breathing. The nasal passages are lined with tiny hairs and mucus that clean, filter, and moisten incoming air.

As the air swirls around the nasal conchae (small shelf-like structures in the nasal cavity), it is heated or cooled depending on whether the outside air temperature is higher or lower than our body temperature. This makes it much more pleasant for the sensitive tissue of our lungs.

By passing through the relatively narrow nostrils and nasal passages, the air is slowed even more, drawing it deeper and allowing more contact time with the lungs, where gas exchange occurs.

How to practice nasal breathing


As always, the first step is awareness. Now, as you read these words, pay attention to whether you are breathing through your nose or through your mouth. If you normally breathe through your mouth, try gently bringing your lips together and breathing through your nose for a few minutes. Did you find that challenging?


When we regularly breathe in and out through the mouth, it increases our perceived need to breathe (which is actually triggered by the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood, but more on that in a future post). Switching to nasal breathing can sometimes feel like you're not getting enough air.

Getting comfortable with nasal breathing is therefore a process of retraining your breathing response and getting used to the lower volume and slower movement of air. This can be achieved by consciously choosing to close your mouth and breathe through your nose as you go about your day.


Start with the times when you're not as active, such as when you're working at the computer or stuck in traffic. Then bring nasal breathing into several moments in your day when you're in motion: cooking, cleaning, walking, and so on.


Finally, with exercise you should be able to breathe through your nose even during more strenuous activities like running and cycling, which has the benefit of building what Patrick McKeown calls “breathing fitness.”


Another way to retrain your breathing response to become more comfortable with a slower speed and volume of air flowing in and out of your body is to consciously begin to incorporate short breathing pauses into your breathing pattern.

Breathe slowly and gently through your nose, using your diaphragm for a few breaths, and then at the end of the exhale, simply stop breathing for a short period of time. Try to relax during the break, and when you feel the urge to breathe, breathe in gently and return to normal for a minute or two. Repeat this process several times.


Ideally, you should also breathe through your nose at night. It's obviously a little more difficult to make a conscious decision when you're asleep, at least when you're sleeping. In fact, the benefits of nose breathing day and night are so great that some people even go so far as to place a small piece of tape over their lips before falling asleep.

This is about nasal breathing. We hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to write us your opinion about it. We look forward to seeing you!

Cover photo shot by Darius Bashar. Downloaded from Unsplash here .

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