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Anxiety's Connection to Breath

How much is anxiety rooted in the physical processes of the body? Sleep deprivation, for example, can lead to tremendous anxiety. When people are in stressful situations, the advice many times is simply to “breathe.” Meanwhile, meditation and mindfulness training are often rooted in the elemental act of respiration. 

Journalist James Nestor explores the subject in depth in a book called Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. On the topic of anxiety, Nestor counters the idea that anxious people need to breathe, finding that the opposite may be true. 

“I talked to a neuropsychologist and he explained to me that people with anxieties or other fear-based conditions typically will breathe way too much,” said Nestor in an interview with National Public Radio. “So what happens when you breathe that much is you're constantly putting yourself into a state of stress. So you're stimulating that sympathetic side of the nervous system. And the way to change that is to breathe deeply.” 

The combination of poor sleep and troubled breathing eventually comes together, and all too often a deficit in either affects anxiety levels. An article at put it this way: At some point it’s hard to tell whether you’re having trouble sleeping because you’re anxious, or you’re anxious because you can’t sleep. The answer may be both. It’s a two-way street: Stress and anxiety can cause sleeping problems, or worsen existing ones. But lack of sleep can also cause an anxiety disorder.” 

The proverbial vicious cycle builds on itself. Add the annoyance of snoring and it won’t be long that a spouse/bed partner will become sleep deprived and anxious. 

“It’s bad enough when you are sleep deprived, but snoring will get your bed partner in the same boat,” says Shad Morris, D.D.S., inventor of the slumberBUMP positional sleep therapy device. “That’s why it’s so important to address the root causes of sleep deprivation. The best therapy could be oral appliances, positional sleep therapy devices, CPAP, and more. Ultimately, the best is whatever works.” 

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