For most people, morning is the worst time of the day in terms of how they feel and perform. Numerous epidemiological studies have shown that the chronically sick (heart disease, diabetes, COPD, epilepsy, etc.) are most likely to have acute episodes and/or die during early morning hours (4-7 am). What are the common underlying parameters that get worse in the morning for all sufferers?
We feel worse and get worse in the morning if, and only if, our breathing pattern gets heavier (faster and deeper). If breathing is light and easy, we are full of energy and feel great. Why is over-breathing bad?
Hyperventilation (or breathing more than the medical norm) cannot improve blood oxygenation since our blood is almost fully saturated with oxygen during normal breathing (only 10-12 breaths per min with tiny 500 ml of air per breath). Hence, there is only one prime effect: over-breathing reduces CO2 content in the blood and cells. This causes constriction of blood vessels (CO2 is a vasodilator) and suppresses O2 release in tissues due to the suppressed Bohr effect. Hence, the more we breathe, the less oxygen our tissues get, including cells of the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and all other vital organs, as many medical studies have found. Symptoms of hyperventilation are highly individual depending on genetics and environment. Just pay closer attention to your breathing when you wake up in the morning.
How to prevent over-breathing at night?
1. If you find that your mouth is dry in the morning, read the internet articles "How to prevent mouth breathing during sleep" or "How to tape one's mouth". Mouth breathing is the most devastating factor during sleep.
2. If you sleep on your back at night, your breathing gets almost twice as heavy and your body oxygenation will decrease about 2 times. Read another free internet manual "How to prevent sleeping one's back". Any other sleep position is better than that.
3. Do more physical activity during the day, but with constant nasal breathing only (both in and out). Even sick people benefit from such exercise, despite the fact that they may only be able to walk (not run) with nasal breathing.
4. Ensure you sweat sufficiently (perspiration) and body vibrates (mechanical vibrations) for at least 20-30 min every day (e.g., during physical exercise).
5. Avoid big meals late at night: have your supper at about 4 or 5 pm and eat a small snack later (at about 9 pm), only if you get really hungry.
6. Ensure good air quality in the place where you sleep (no carpets; open windows; air ionizer).
7. Do not overheat yourself at night (choose temperature/blanket/ and other parameters to feel just comfortable but not too warm).
8. Follow 2 simple sleep rules: go to sleep only when you are really sleepy (not at a certain time) and do not stay in bed after you woke up in the morning.
9. Add nutrients to your diet that could be missing in your body (cod liver oil, Mg, Ca, Zn) since any deficiency will worsen your quality of sleep and morning health parameters.
There are additional suggestions that can be used in certain specific situations: people with inflammatory conditions (severe asthma, chronic fatigue, cystic fibrosis, Crohn's disease, etc.) can be low in blood cortisol and would greatly benefit from taking this steroid only in the dosage required to get back to normal cortisol values; light sleepers and who cannot fall asleep quickly can elevate a part of their bed so that their head is about 3-5 cm higher than their legs etc.
Finally, there is a simple test that you can use as a sensitive guide in order to check that the above-mentioned lifestyle modifications do work. It is called the CP (Control Pause) test. Measure your stress-free breath holding time after your usual exhalation and as soon as you wake up every morning (when you are still in bed). When you open your eyes and after your usual exhalation, pinch your nose and count how many seconds you can hold your breath without any discomfort (or only until the slightest sensation of stress). Your breathing pattern after the test should be as easy and light as just before the test: no gasping for air and no panting.
All these methods and lifestyle techniques are part of the advanced Buteyko breathing retraining method created to normalize one's breathing and increase body oxygenation, while the CP is the main test of this medical therapy.
Dr. Artour Rakhimov (www.NormalBreathing.com) is a health educator in self-oxygenation, breathing and the Buteyko self-oxygenation medical therapy. He is the author of books and the educational website https://www.NormalBreathing.com devoted to natural self-oxygenation, breathing education and breathing retraining.