Women with Type 2 Diabetes need good sleep. Get it by breathing differently.

airflow diabetes managment rest sleep Aug 02, 2022

Sleep is one of the most important body functions we have to stay healthy. It is especially important for women with diabetes because the quality of sleep you get affects your hunger, appetite, weight gain and more. If you aren’t getting good quality sleep, this is an important place to put your efforts to change. One of the essentials of good sleep is getting enough deep sleep. Why? Because so much clean up and repair happens during deep sleep. Deep sleep is affected by how you breathe at night.

Nose breathing or mouth breathing? Your nose was created to deal specifically with breathing, bringing oxygen in and letting CO2 out.

  1. First, the hair in your nose filters air as you breathe in and filters out particles like pollen, dust and other substances in the air headed for your lungs. The nose warms the air and moisturizes it before it goes into our lungs making it more comfortable for your body.
  2. Second, when you breathe through your nose, it produces nitric oxide. This is a substance that is produced in different places in your body. About 25% of the nitric oxide in your body is produced in your nose. The function of nitric oxide is to vasodilate, meaning it opens up the blood vessels and allows for more blood flow. In this case, it allows for more oxygen uptake in the body and re-uptake of carbon dioxide to release because of that vasodilation.
  3. Third, breathing through your nose is calming. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for “rest and digest” instead of the sympathetic nervous system which is activated when we are stressed.
  4. Fourth, the amount of air you breath in through your nose is moderated by the breathing process. You don’t get too much air as is the case with breathing through your mouth.
  5. Fifth, nose breathing gets increased airflow to blood vessels and nerves which help with diabetes. It increases oxygen uptake and circulation. It slows down breathing, improves lung capacity, strengthens the diaphragm (the muscle used for breathing), decreases risk of snoring and sleep apnea and supports correct formation of the teeth, mouth and face.

Now about the mouth. Our mouth is made for eating, laughing, singing, talking, coughing, sneezing and other stuff. What happens when we breathe mostly through our mouth? There is no filtering. The air isn't warmed or moisturized when it goes into the lungs. Importantly, there's no nitrous oxide production.

We don't get as much oxygen into our bodies as we could if we were breathing through our nose. We are subjected to breathing in microorganisms, allergens, dust, pollen and other stuff in the air. In addition, when we breathe through our mouth, sometimes we take in too much air. This could have the possibility of collapsing some of our collapsible airways.

This becomes a problem during sleep. You can get seven or eight hours of sleep at night. If it's not good quality sleep, it doesn't matter whether you sleep eight hours or 10 hours.

This is an issue for people who breathe through their mouth. When you mouth breathe, you'll wake up with a dry mouth and throat. People who breathe through their mouth at night tend to snore, but not everybody. Snoring can indicate a problem with your airway which may progress to sleep apnea.

If you have issues with mouth breathing or snoring when sleeping, talk to your dentist. There are options available to address these issues.

Dr Elaine


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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.


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