For some people, the main reason for going to sleep is to allow their smartphone battery to charge, and their main reason for waking up is either bladder pressure or that other toilet pleasure.

Difficulty falling asleep and reluctantly staying awake can be damaging. Therefore, having breathing tools for promoting sleep is indispensable when experiencing sleeping problems.

The importance of sleep

I need sleep to reboot and defragment my memory. In addition, my body is also busy repairing my nerves, restoring tissues, and replacing cells when I’m in dreamland.

It’s not only the number of hours I sleep that matters but also the quality of my sleep. I may sleep a few hours and wake up refreshed, but there are also times when I sleep many hours and feel worn out when I get out of bed. Referring only to the number of hours needed for sleeping without considering sleep quality is lacking. Not getting enough quality sleep has far-reaching, short and long-term implications for my well-being.  It may lead to poor performance during the day. In more extreme situations, low-quality sleep may negatively affect how I react to danger while awake, which may be fatal.

Marketing folks try to convince me that comfort mattresses, supportive pillows, and sophisticated beds will significantly improve my sleep quality. Of course, Comfi-beds may help me get a good night’s sleep, but understanding the nature of my sleep is more significant than that.

Alarm clocks

A gradual and natural wakeup is my favorite way to start a day. For many people, it remains a sweet weekend pleasure. Unfortunately, alarm clocks disrupt my natural sleeping cycles, causing an out-of-sync sleep exit. This wicked wakeup is a ‘simulated attack,’ which instantly shifts me to a state of Fight or Flight. My mind desperately attempts to find a less disruptive exit point when woken up prematurely. That is one of the reasons alarm clocks have a snooze button. The stage in which I terminate my sleep impacts my overall sleeping quality. A sudden and hasty wake-up has an accumulating negative effect and may also affect how I sleep the next night.

I do my very best to avoid alarm clock wake-ups. Unless I’m ill, I usually need 6 hours of sleep at night; I don’t exceed 8 hours. As a safety measure, I set my alarm clock to ring 9 hours after I go to sleep if I have a deadline, so when the alarm rings, I’m already awake.  With good planning, it’s possible to reduce alarm clock wakeups to a minimum.


Not being able to fall asleep when my body needs to repair and restore is no fun. Furthermore, continuous and undisrupted sleep is vital for my well-being.

The reasons for sleeping difficulties may be physical or emotional, or both. For example, a physical restriction in my airways, disabling free breathing, or a perceived threat to my well-being may keep me awake. In addition, getting into emotional turbulence may also throw me into a Fight or Flight dominant state, where my mind prevents me from falling asleep because of anticipated danger. The inability to fall asleep when needed can be a real ‘pain in the ax.’

Sleeping position

While sleeping, I have a ‘diminished awareness’ and vague perception of the bed I lay upon, which is why I don’t roll off the bed. During the dreaming stage, my muscles are disabled, which prevents me from acting out my dreams. During other sleep stages, my muscles are active, allowing me to roll around in bed.

Depending on health conditions, there are many considerations when choosing sleeping positions. For example, the choice may affect back pain, digestion problems, heart condition, and other disorders.

My neck gets twisted when sleeping on my stomach, which may restrict airflow. In addition, when stomach-sleeping, I have to lift a portion of my body weight on every inhale, which is a burden.

My tongue may dangle in my mouth when sleeping on my back and block my airways. It’s also easier for my jaw to drop down when I lay on my back, which may result in sleeping with an open mouth.

Generally, sleeping on the side has more advantages than disadvantages when it comes to breathing, but side sleeping is not perfect. For example, I tend to curl when sleeping on my side, restricting my stomach and ribcage expansion. In addition, when side sleeping, there is more pressure on my ribs because the weight of my body presses on a relatively narrow area compared to the stomach or back sleeping. Sleeping for many hours on one side may cause deformities or rigidness. Another problem with side sleeping is prolonged pressure on one side of the jaw, which may affect my mouth shape.

There are also differences between sleeping on the left and right sides.  Sleeping on the right side while my digestive system is active may restrict the release of digesting juices. It’s less of a problem when I sleep on an empty stomach.

Sleeping on the left side may create slight pressure on the heart, which may cause discomfort to people with heart conditions. On the other hand, when sleeping on the left side, the heart is not ‘hanging,’ which may slightly reduce the pumping load.

Physical breathing stops

During sleep, my body needs a steady supply of Oxygen. Once I fall asleep, my exposure to sensual stimulation is minimal, so there is a reduced need for balancing external changes. In addition, many processes occur internally and require balancing. When I sleep, my ‘breathing app’ switches to night mode, and my breathing changes accordingly.

During the day, I should breathe through my nose. During the night, it’s just as significant, if not more. People who breathe through their mouth during the night dihydrate themselves, evaporate protective saliva from their teeth, regulate their body temperature poorly, and miss on Nitric-Oxide. Mouth breathing during the night may cause disorders.

When I lay down in bed, gravity pulls the air I inhale to the bottom of my horizontal lungs. That has an impact on how Oxygen is absorbed. Furthermore, gravity affects my dangling tongue differently than it does while I sit or stand. Depending on mouth anatomy, a wobbly tongue may obstruct the airways, limiting the air passing through. In extreme cases, this may cause a temporary breathing stop. Long breathing halts due to body positioning or anatomical faults may throw a person out of balance and negatively impact sleep quality.

Men tend to have more breathing stops than women, and obese people more than people with average body weight. People who breathe relatively fast and have high sensitivity to Carbon-diOxide, also tend to have more breathing stops. Irregular and prolonged stopping is closely related to snoring. 

Snoring cacophony

Snoring is one of the possible outcomes of breathing while the airways are restricted or blocked. The breathing muscles get activation signals from the ‘breathing app,’ but because air has to force through a ‘bottleneck,’ sounds are generated. Audible sleeping can be a real annoyance for the snorer but also very disturbing for whoever is sleeping within the snorer’s ‘firing range.’

We are vulnerable while sleeping because our senses are periodically disabled. In addition, during our evolution, making sounds while sleeping exposed our whereabouts to predators or enemies.

Different obstructions produce various snoring sounds. For a snorer, finding out if the sounds come from the mouth or nose is helpful. For example, loud gasps through the mouth are the more hazardous sort of snoring; when sounds come from the nose, it may be irritating, but it’s not as problematic as mouth snoring.

Emotional breathing pauses

My emotional state may also cause breathing pauses during sleep time. Sometimes, my ‘breathing app’ temporarily disables my breathing muscles to bring me back into balance.

Human sleep has different stages, and our breathing changes accordingly. Most emotionally related breathing pauses happen when dreaming and may repeatedly occur during sleep hours.

Other emotionally induced sleep behaviors are jaw clenching and teeth grinding, which are often linked to long breathing pauses.

Evaluating sleep quality

When having sleeping problems, the solution’s first stage is finding the cause. Today, sleeping laboratories with sophisticated measuring equipment can digitally record data on a person’s sleeping.

But before going for professional testing in a sleeping lab, there is important information one can collect at home.  For example, the state in which we wake up in the morning may indicate whether we are ‘fighting dragons’ at night.

Possible indications of poor sleep are when we wake up with

  • Face and jaw tensions.
  • Neck and shoulder pain.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Chapped lips.
  • Worn-down teeth.
  • Highly congested nose.
  • Extreme nostril dominance.
  • Tangled and twisted bedsheets.

Waking up with minimal tension and pain, a salivated mouth and moist lips, an open nose, and reasonably flat bedsheets are indicators of good sleep.

Video recording

An indispensable tool for sleep evaluation is video recording. This relatively simple option provides much information about night behavior. The way I behave in dreamland surprised me! Just patiently looking at how I sleep at night and becoming aware of my nocturnal behavior improved my sleep. In particular, how I breathe when sleeping, my body positioning, and the frequency I roll around. Some of the findings register in my diminished sleep awareness.

People use surveillance cameras to guard their property. So why not use a camera to monitor our precious selves? Today, cameras with infrared night vision come with a reasonable price tag. Furthermore, car dashcams or ‘police cameras’ with a memory-card slot can do the job well.

I use a musician’s tripod with a boom for a microphone. It’s perfect for securing the camera above my bed. I wear a black shirt when recording at night and cover the bed with a white sheet to create contrast.

Watching the whole recording is time-consuming. So instead, I fast-forward and stop at ‘interesting’ points. Of course, it’s possible to save time by using a motion detection function or time-lapse recording; however, these may prevent observing subtle movements and breathing nuances.

Assembling my sleeping tools

I will now tell you about my journey to assemble and finetune my ‘breathing tools for sleeping.’ That can serve as a systematic method to create breathing tools for purposes other than sleep.

Some time ago, I thought that finding out how I breathe just as I fall asleep would give me clues on how to breathe when I want to fall asleep. The Idea was that emulating the same breathing patterns would make the transition into sleep smoother. So, I watched video recordings of myself, but locating the exact ‘entry point’ into dreamland was difficult. In addition, the precise mechanics of my breathing were also unclear in the video.

Instead of inventing the wheel, I explored sleeping tools that worked for others. A quick search on the internet brought me to the famous sequence known as 478. In this sequence, the inhaling is to the count of 4, the holding to 7, and the exhaling to 8. The result is a triangle breathing, with a count of 4-7-8-0. People enthusiastically testified this sequence helped them fall asleep and improved their sleep quality. I don’t doubt that these testimonials were authentic. Relaxing into the familiar is there when repeatedly using this tool and adopting a sequence that worked well for many other people supports believing in this tool. Still, I had a few questions on my mind:

  • How does a person’s breathing identity influence the effectiveness of the 478?
  • Did people use the 478 in the long run, or was this practice discarded after a relatively short period?
  • What is more dominant in the 478, the physiological or psychological impact?

Generally, relaxation assists me when setting sail to Slumberland. Like most people, it’s more difficult for me to fall asleep when I’m excited. A longer exhale than inhale relaxes; that component is there in the 478: inhaling to 4, exhaling to 8. For many people, including myself, a long breath-hold after inhaling excites rather than relaxes. Therefore, holding to 7 didn’t fit my breathing identity. I tested the 478 several times, lying down and sitting up, and could not reproduce the effects reported in the testimonials. On the contrary, it felt to me the 478 was waking me up.

So, the first thing I did was try to hold my breath after exhaling instead of inhaling. Breathing 4-0-8-7 produced a more relaxing effect. It was also evident that lying down instead of first sitting up, breathing 487, and then lying down to sleep suited me better.

I used tongue and gum indications to assess how different counts affect me to improve my sleeping tool. So I encompassed my tongue and was looking for a count that would produce warmth and salivation when I held my breath.  For me, these sensations indicate relaxation.

I tweaked further the 478 breathing using different counts, keeping the inhale longer than the exhale and then holding my breath.

Eventually, I got to this blend: I inhaled to maximum diaphragm amplitude, then slowly exhaled without a specific count until my diaphragm retracted to its neutral dome position. Then I held my breath until I gently reached ‘air hunger start.’

Next, I tried generating different sounds while exhaling to improve further. Finally, I noticed that adding a soft “Ahhhh hiss” through my nose while keeping my mouth closed improved indications from my tongue and gum.

I tried using my Mantra ‘peace and quiet’ but could feel it associated in my mind with things other than sleep. Repeating a dedicated  ‘sleeping Mantra,’ synchronized to my breathing, fitted better. Again, I used a meaningful phrase rather than a mystical one. Repeating the Mantra only during the breath-hold seemed to have the best effect. While breath-holding, I slowly and silently repeat to myself the phrase, “Sleep well, pleasant dreams.” I sometimes imagine the voice of a person I feel close to saying this Mantra to me.

In the past, I used to say to myself, “Sleep well, sweet dreams,” as a ‘sleeping Mantra.’ It rimes a bit. However, once I told a friend about it, she suggested replacing the word sweet with pleasant. “They add sugar to everything today, maybe cut down on it at night,” she said. I understood the deeper meaning of her suggestion and adopted the change.

Body placement

Body positioning impacts the effectiveness of breathing tools and even more when it comes to sleeping. When using a sleeping tool, it’s, of course, essential to lay comfortably. I aim to sleep on my sides, but falling asleep is easier for me when lying on my back. Lying on the back is a symmetric posture, and air distribution in the lungs differs from lying on my side. So I lay in the Yogic   ‘dead man’s pose,’ spreading my legs to the sides and my arms resting on the side of my body.

Another posture I use is lying on my back, with my legs bent and my feet flat on the bed. My palms rest on my ‘private part’ or close to my navel, allowing feedback from my stomach movement as I breathe diaphragmatically.

Tongue pose

I have learned that how I rest my tongue impacts my overall relaxation. Encompassing the tongue and releasing tongue tensions helps me in falling asleep. Something like parking my tongue in ‘sleeping gear.’

Idle vision images and visualizing

Observing the faint images displayed in my idle vision also helps me move on to dreamland. That is because the pictures I ‘see’ in my dreams and my idle vision images ‘share the same screen.’ 

Years ago, I learned a technique to increase concentration when having my eyes closed by shifting my eyeballs slightly away from their natural center positioning.  I try to ‘look’ with closed eyes at the tip of my nose, barely crossing my eyes. Another option is ‘looking’ with closed eyes at the point between the eyebrows, also known as the 3rd eye. I sometimes add to my sleeping tool a very subtle eye-crossing and do it during the breath-holds right after exhaling.

As my ribcage completes its descent and I start my breath-hold, I visualize my body becoming heavy and as if I’m sinking a little bit deeper into the mattress.

Falling asleep tool

  • I encompass my tongue and use it as a monitor.
  • Exclusive nose breathing.
  • Focus on my idle visions, displayed on my ‘screen saver.’
  • Lay symmetrically on my back.
  1. I inhale to maximum diaphragm amplitude.
  2. Exhale slowly and retract my diaphragm to its neutral dome position while making a soft “Ahhhh hiss” sound through my nose.
  3. Add a breath-
  • Slowly repeat my sleeping Mantra ‘sleep well, pleasant dreams.’
  • Add a slight eye-crossing.
  • Imagine I’m getting heavier.

Nostril-dominance and sleep

Nostril dominance and sleeping are cyclical, and there seems to be a correlation between them. During a period, I made an effort to be aware of my nostril dominance when retiring to bed, before falling asleep, and first thing in the morning. I noticed that falling asleep went faster when I had weak or no nostril dominance than when dominance was strong.

First thing in the morning, I tend to have a relatively strong dominance, which weakens after being awake for some time. So when I have difficulties falling asleep, the first thing I do is check my nostril dominance. If the dominance is mild, I lay on my left side when the left nostril is dominant or on my right side when the right nostril is. If there is strong dominance, I get out of bed and take action to shift the dominance toward balance. I breathe through a single nostril at a time and add breath holds with outward pressure or sucking vacuum.

Mouth taping, magic, or myth?

The invention of adhesive tape offered a practical way to keep the mouth shut during the night without using diminished awareness. Mouth taping during sleep forces nose breathing and may assist in changing breathing patterns. It has become a common practice among breath hackers because it doesn’t require significant effort and awareness.

After reading about mouth taping, I decided to try it gradually: First, I bought a roll of hypoallergic adhesive tape from the pharmacy and got used to mouth taping during the day. Then, after a while, I tried it at night. I left two openings at the sides of my mouth to allow me to breathe, yawn, or even cough. Initially, it felt awkward, but I quickly got used to it. That went on for a few months. At first, it seemed to me I slept better and woke up more energized, but after some time, I felt the effect was wearing off.

To use or not to use

I was looking at a video recording of my sleeping. I could see I don’t tend to open my mouth when sleeping on my side. But, when lying on my back, my mouth would open occasionally. So I concluded I should try to avoid sleeping on my back. One way I tried to prevent back sleeping was to stuff a little ball between my back and my nightshirt, which made back sleeping uncomfortable. Instead of using a ball, I found out I could use my diminished sleep awareness, but to be sure, I video-controlled it. After adopting side sleeping, mouth-taping had a minimal effect on my night breathing.

After sleeping for a few years exclusively on my side and feeling comfortable with it, I read side sleeping may cause mouth shape changes, mainly because of pressure on the lower jaw. My jaw may drop or press against the pillow when sleeping on the side. For now, I decided to continue with side sleeping, but as mentioned, any sleeping position has pros and cons; nothing is perfect!

For me, it’s evident that a simple video recording of how I breathe while sleeping may determine if mouth-taping can serve me well. It’s better to get a visual indication rather than a subjective feeling when I wake up. After adopting mouth taping, feeling good in the morning may come from various reasons, including a placebo effect.

Some people use mouth taping as a remedy for dry mouth during sleep. However, a dry mouth is not necessarily a result of mouth breathing and may also stem from medication or other conditions.

A few more remarks on night mouth-taping

Words of caution! Better to avoid night mouth taping altogether during pregnancy, when having a severe medical condition, under the influence of medication, drugs, or alcohol, and when having high sensitivity to Carbon-diOxide. It’s always good to get guidance from an experienced person.

Practicing mouth taping during wake hours, so it becomes familiar, is a safe way to go about it. For example, when reading a book, listening to music, watching television, or walking.

Verifying minimal airway obstructions and that the nose allows sufficient airflow is essential. In addition, it’s good to have weak nostril dominance. It’s possible to use nostril expanders to open and allow better air movement if needed.

As I see it, a simple hypoallergic adhesive tape is good enough; there is no need to buy special tapes designed for the purpose.

One problem which may occur is the tape falling off. Losing the tape may happen because of the mouth rubbing against the pillow or an unintentional self-removal during sleep. Video recording can show what is going on with the tape during sleep.

Mouth taping may lead to communication issues when sharing a bed with a partner. For example, going to bed beside someone who says MM MM M MM, instead of “Good night, my dear,” may irritate some. But, on the other hand, this little ‘talk block’ tape may be a blessing to others.

Having written all that, I’m convinced mouth-taping may be effective for some people.

Wake-up breathing

There are many situations where I feel sleepy but need to stay awake. Sometimes it’s even a matter of life and death. Drowsy drivers, exhausted pilots, washed-out soldiers, and many other operators who fall asleep on duty may lead to disasters. Unfortunately, accidents resulting from drivers falling asleep at the wheel happen more often than we think.

Just as extending the exhaling relaxes me and may help me fall asleep, extending the inhaling may excite and help me stay awake. This sort of breathing may replace  ‘energy drinks,’ used by some to stay awake.

When I feel drowsy and need to wake up, I significantly extend my inhale duration compared to my exhale. But it’s not easy for me to sustain this breathing for long compared to extending exhalation. That is because my natural tendency is to make a longer exhale. So repeatedly extending inhalations for many cycles creates a strong disparity and may prevent my ‘breathing app’ from balancing.

Waking up tool  

  • I sit on a chair with a straight back.
  • Exclusive nose breathing.
  • Circular connected breath.
  • Inhale very slowly.
  • Exhale abruptly through my nose.

Remarks and details

I limit the number of cycles I repeat, then take a break and resume.