How to improve the autonomic nervous system
by activating declined parasympathetic nervous system and keeping a good balance between the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system
There are mainly 2 kinds of breathing methods which are chest breathing and abdominal breathing.
Chest breathing is taking a deep breath from your nose or mouth with filling your chest.
Abdominal breathing is when you inhale, you expand your stomach and when you exhale, you flatten your stomach.
Diaphragm breathing is expanding and flattening the chest and stomach at the same time, intaking more air. Intaking more air slows down the movement of alveolus in the lung and activates the declined parasympathetic nervous system.
It is a little difficult to do both breathing together, so the following is how to doh each breathing separately.
(1) Lie on your back and bend your knees (Fig. 3).
(2) Put your hands on your chest (Fig. 4).
(3) Inhale slowly feeling your hands move upward.
(4) Exhale slowly feeling your hands move downward.
(5) Repeat inhaling and exhaling for 5 times.
(1) Lie on your back and put your hands on the sides of your abdomen (Fig. 5).
(2) Inhale slowly feeling your abdomen expands.
(3) Exhale slowly feeling your abdomen flattens.
(4) Repeat inhaling and exhaling for 5 times.
If you continue 1 set of these breathing exercises in the morning and at night, the unbalancing autonomic nervous system starts to be balanced.
Effect of Diaphragm Breathing
A person who can’t be moved to tears with watching a touching movie and keeps sweating during eating hot spicy food and whose blood pressure doesn’t lower down during sleep checked the movement of his diaphragm. His lungs don’t expand very much and the diaphragm doesn’t move very much. After instructing him how to do the diaphragm breathing, his diaphragm moves largely (Fig. 6).
2 days after starting the diaphragm breathing, his blood pressure during a meal went down to the number of before a meal in 30 minutes (128 -> 146 -> 130). This shows that the parasympathetic nervous system is activated and calms down the sympathetic nervous system (Fig. 7 and 8).
His blood pressure during sleep which was as high as during daytime also lowered down.
5 days after the diaphragm breathing, he watched a touching movie and he could move to tears.
Recommended Breathing Method for each situation
When you can’t fall asleep…
Pursed lips breathing is recommended.
Breathe in from your nose for 1 to 2 seconds and breathe out from your mouth, pursing up your lips for 4 seconds. Breathing out slowly switches on the parasympathetic nerve which relaxes your body so you can fall asleep more easily.
When you feel like you are catching a cold…
Steamed hot towel breathing is recommended.
Place a steamed hot towel on your face and breathe from your nose for at least 30 seconds. This breathing method moisturizes the mucus membrane of your nose and throat, leading to the improvement of your immune strength. (Fig. 4)
When you are nervous…
One Two Breathing is recommended.
When we are nervous, the amount of breathing in is large and our body tends to become a little hyperventilated. That mean when we are nervous, breathing becomes fast, and inhale and exhale become the same length, so if you consciously breathe in for 1 second and breathe out for 2 seconds, your breathing easily goes back to the normal state and you can be relaxed.
Breathing out slowly helps the secretion of acetylcholine which calms down the pulse and you can be relaxed gradually.
Sleep Apnea Syndrome
If you breathe from your mouth, your tongue goes down, narrowing your throat. The noise of snoring is caused when the air goes through the narrowed throat, so if you sore very loudly, your throat must be narrowed. If the throat gets narrower, your breathing stops. (Fig. 5)
Fig. 6 shows that after 7 breathing, breathing stops for 1 minutes, breathing starts again because it feels difficult and breathing stops for 1 minutes again.
This condition makes oxygen difficult go to the brain and heart, and when breathing starts again, blood pressure goes up to about 180 (mmHg), so the risk of sudden death, angina, heart attack and stroke becomes about 2 to 4 times. Since oxygen doesn’t go to the brain, it is considered to be related to cognitive impairment (dementia).
Prevention of Sleep Apnea Syndrome
Use a low pillow.
If you use a high pillow, the respiratory tract (airway) is blocked, but if you use a low pillow, you can keep the respiratory tract open and breathe easily. Sleeping on your side is also a good method.
Simple Stretching to make your breathing better
Strengthening the muscles around lungs helps deep breathing. The muscles related to breathing is thin and usually not used so they are strengthened effectively by simple stretches.
(1) Breathe in from your nose for 3 seconds, holding your hands behind your head. (Fig. 2)
(2) Stretch your hands above your head, breathing out from your mouth in 6 seconds. (Fig. 3)
It is recommended to do this stretching 10 times in 2 sets every day. At the earliest, the effect appears in a week.
A 50 years old male tried this stretching for 2 weeks. The age of his lung function was 57 years old before starting this stretching and 2 weeks later it became 45 years old.
The function of lungs is peak at the age of 20 and gradually decreases. That means the amount of oxygen taken in decreases.
Two types of bad breathing we tend to do
1. Mouth breathing
Why is mouth breathing not good?
Because immune strength lowers.
Mouth breathing lowers the function of two filters which protect our body. What are the two filters?
(1) Nose hair blocks the foreign substance in the air and viruses. If you breathe from your mouth, the function of nose hair as a filter doesn’t work so viruses such as a cold and flu invade our body more easily.
(2) Cilia which are microscopic, hair-like structure located in the throat or trachea. Cilia block bacteria or viruses. But mouth breathing decreases the function of cilia because mouth breathing dries cilia. At the time of nose breathing, inside of nose is wet with secretion such as nose mucus so the air is moisturized. On the other hand, mouth breathing dries cilia and cilia can’t block viruses, becoming susceptible to infections such as a cold or flu.
There is an easy technique to make nose breathing a habit.
That is humming doing something.
If you hum doing something, your breathing becomes nose breathing naturally.
2. Shallow breathing
Fig. 1 shows the X-ray of a person whose breathing is good and a person whose breathing is shallow. The location of the diaphragm of the shallow breathing person is higher than the good breathing person’s. This small difference makes a big difference of the function of lungs. The lung capacity of the person with correct breathing is 4500 cc and the lung capacity of the person with shallow breathing is 3500 cc. How they always breathe makes 1000 cc difference.
If you feel like getting easily tired, having neck and shoulder tighter or being difficult to lose weight, there is a possibility that these symptoms are caused by lack of oxygen due to shallow breathing.
If there is not enough oxygen, our body can’t break down nutrition to produce energy. That is like driving a car with the gas tank almost empty so you can’t move your body like you think, you easily feel tired, blood circulation becomes bad and neck and shoulder tightness gets worse.
To break down fat, a kind of enzyme, lipase is necessary. Lipase can burn fat with the help of oxygen. So if the amount of oxygen taken in is not enough, lipase doesn’t work well, making the body difficult to lose weight.
There are good breathing and bad breathing. The amount of oxygen breathed in is different by 20 to 30 %. If the amount of oxygen breathed in is small, there is a possibility that you will have various physical disorders such as you are easily infected with a cold or flu, it is hard to recover from fatigue, neck and shoulders easily get very tight or it is hard to lose weight.
Q1. How many times a day do we breathe?
A1. About 20 thousand times.
We breathe 15 to 18 times a minutes so we breathe about 20 thousand times a day. The amount of taking oxygen is different by 20 to 30% between a person with good breathing and a person with bad breathing. So there will be a big difference of physical condition by the difference of each breathing.
Q2. In winter, our breathing becomes shallow and the amount of oxygen taken into our body becomes insufficient. Why?
A2. We tend to be round-shouldered.
In the cold season, we tend to be round-shouldered so our lungs are oppressed, causing shallow breathing. There are other three kinds of situations that make you round-shouldered that are when you wash dishes or do other housework, when you work at the desk and when you watch a smart phone.
Q3. You can strengthen your lungs. (A) Yes (B) No
A3. (B) No
Q4. Which is more important to do good breathing?
(A) Abdominal muscle (B) Diaphragm
A4. (B) Diaphragm
The movement of muscles around lungs such as diaphragm enlarges the range of motion of lungs, leading to taking more oxygen. So muscles around lungs are important to breathe.
This Blog is for a memo of my clinical realizations, information about health I learned recently and update information.