Can nasal breathing at night cause vivid dreams and intense mood swings?

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Question: Hi, I have taped my mouth at night for three weeks, and I have had many vivid, different dreams during this period. They have not been intimidating but detailed, and I often remember them when I wake up. I wonder if it has to do with me taping my mouth. I have also experienced intense mood swings and wonder if it is part of having been breathing through my nose at night.

Answer: If taping your mouth at night is the only change you have made in your life, it is quite possible (probable) that your vivid dreams and intense mood swings are caused by you breathing through your nose when asleep. Although we usually want positive results, and preferably as quickly as possible, it is primarily change we should look for. Change gives you confirmation that taping your mouth has affected your breathing during sleep and, thus, indicates that you have the bad habit of breathing through your mouth when asleep.

Let us take a step back and ask ourselves why we sleep. During evolution, sleep has been one of the most dangerous things to do. Sleep is, after all, a kind of unconsciousness where we can neither control hungry beasts nor poisonous insects. Despite these drawbacks, our need to sleep has remained throughout our evolution, which indicates that something very important goes on during sleep.

And that is correct. When we are awake, the brain has more than a lot to do, processing incoming stimuli. But in order for us to develop, learn new things and gain new insights, all incoming stimuli need to be sorted and organized. This occurs during sleep, when information in the short-term memory is moved to the long-term memory, and events that we have been involved in during the day are sorted and grouped together with similar previous events, which gives us experience and a holistic perspective.

The rough sorting of the events we have been involved in during the day can be compared to when we clean the house and let all the cutlery, glasses, plates and saucepans end up piled in the kitchen while toothpaste and toilet paper rolls end up in the bathroom. This happens during our shallower sleep. The fine sorting, where the cutlery is sorted into the silverware box and the glasses and plates in their respective cabinets, takes place during our deep sleep. How we breathe is absolutely crucial to the quality of our deep sleep.

Several people have reported that they have fewer nightmares since they started taping their mouths at night. Mouth breathing when resting automatically means hyperventilation, i.e. the breathing exceeds the body’s needs. The logic then becomes that over-breathing or hyperventilation takes us into “fight or flight,” which leads to dreams that reflect this condition. And nose breathing, which takes us into rest, peace, and quiet, gives rise to more harmonious dreams. In this article, you can read more about sleep and breathing: “Breathe better – Get Quality Sleep“.

Regarding your intense mood swings during the day, there is a very interesting connection between how we breathe and past experiences of trauma and unpleasant, unprocessed feelings. Expressions like butterflies in the stomach and stress stomach indicate that painful feelings often come from the stomach region. The reason why many of us have a superficial chest breathing is simply to avoid coming into contact with grief, fear, anger and so on. We escape from the painful things stored in the stomach area by moving the breathing up to the chest. This happens during our shallower sleep. The fine sorting, where the cutlery is sorted into the silverware box and the glasses and plates in their respective cabinets, takes place during our deep sleep. How we breathe is absolutely crucial to the quality of our deep sleep.

Mouth breathing at rest automatically gives rise to a shallow breath, while nose breathing gives a lower breath and activates the diaphragm, our most important breathing muscle. So it is conceivable that your emotional roller coaster has to do with you increasingly coming into contact with various unprocessed emotions that are buried deep within you.

For some who start training their breathing, some form of cleansing or initial deterioration occurs before things get better. The reaction (temporary deterioration) may occur immediately or after a few weeks of breathing training. What happens at initial deterioration can be compared to when a person who quit smoking does not feel so good at first but the gains come after a while. Usually, the reaction occurs where we have had problems before. One way of looking at first deterioration is, thus, that the body is healing. You can read more in this article: “Can breathing retraining cause a cleansing reaction?“.

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