This is painful to say. But most of what’s published out there about the Buteyko Breathing technique is lacking.
Not just incomplete information. Not just half-truths.
Some are outright lies. You can’t even get straightforward answers to basic questions like:
- Should you go to the trouble of practicing the Buteyko Breathing Technique or just get a typical antisnore aid?
- Does scientific research back the Buteyko Breathing Technique in alleviating snoring?
- Will the breathing techniques cure snoring?
- And how exactly can you execute the technique at home?
It is infuriating, but listen:
In this guide, we’re going to dig deep. It’s brutally honest. It’s full of technical details (but we do our best to explain). It’ll also save you tons of time.
What’s the Buteyko Breathing Technique?
The Buteyko Breathing Technic is an alternative physical therapy that suggests breathing exercises as the primary treatment for underlying respiratory conditions.
The name goes after the Soviet doctor Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko who first come up with its principles in the 1950s.
The Physiological Explanation of Buteyko
At its core, the Buteyko Breathing Technique aims at treating hyperventilation.
As per the official Buteyko website, hyperventilation drops the carbon dioxide level in a person’s arteries. As a result, the blood becomes more alkaline and highers its affinity for oxygen.
But this causes one problem:
The hemoglobin holds onto oxygen more tightly and does not release it to the tissue quickly. Then, the drop in oxygen supply to tissue can cause hypoxic damage to the tissue and cause the brain to stimulate you to take a breath.
Now that begs the question:
How Buteyko Breathing Technique Works?
The operation of the Buteyko Breathing Technique is based on the assumption that plenty of medical conditions – especially asthma – are caused by chronically increased respiratory rate or hyperventilation.
Therefore, the method targets retraining one’s breathing pattern through repetitive breathing exercises to correct hyperventilation.
The treatment includes a series of reduced nasal breathing exercises—breath-holding and relaxation.
Does it cure snoring?
At its core, snoring and sleep apnea are symptoms of wrong breathing patterns. When you snore, it is most likely that you’re breathing 2-3 times the normal physiology. In other words, you are massively over-breathing. In fact, science says that nearly all snorer over-breathe. And loud snorers breathe more than 10 liters of air per minute. And this reduces the oxygen supply in the blood in the but.
For that reason, multiple snoring and sleep apnea solutions focus on procedures or devices that open up the breathing airways to accommodate the large air volume a snorer breathes.
But like any other person keen enough to solve the snoring problem, you’d wonder though:
Shouldn’t breathing more increase the oxygen supply to the blood?
Apparently, that isn’t the case. In practice, all carbon dioxide is eliminated from the body as a gas in the exhaled air. When you breathe excess air into and out of the lungs rises above normal, more carbon dioxide is lost from the body. As a result, Carbon dioxide’s pressure within the body lowers, and the carbonic acid changes back into carbon dioxide and water.
For that reason, the hemoglobin’s affinity for oxygen increases. But this time, the oxygen binds to hemoglobin more firmly that it gets difficult to release it to body tissues. The brain then interprets the drop of oxygen supply to tissue as sleep apnea and triggers you to wake up to take another breath.
That said, let’s be straight here:
While other antisnore solutions target to open your airway more to ease airflow, Buteyko Breathing Technique aims at reducing the amount of air passing through. That way, you’ll experience less turbulence when breathing, and the soft muscles on your throat will, therefore, not vibrate.
That’s crystal clear.
How Snoring Occurs – From Buteyko Perspective
From the Buteyko perspective, snoring and even sleep apnea results from incorrect breathing – over-breathing to be more precise. The noisy breathing is because of the exchange of a large volume of air through a narrowed space.
The faster the air moves through your airways, the more turbulent the airflow. As a result, pressure drops tissue of the nose and throat drops and vibrate, causing snoring.
And such snoring is because of two factors:
- Noisy and heavy breathing when asleep
- Narrow upper airways due to:
- Nasal congestion
- Or structural issues (Natural narrow airways)
And the Buteyko breathing techniques aim at correcting breathing patterns so that:
- Just enough air pass through your airway to reduce turbulence and vibration of the soft palate tissues
- And you breathe through the nose
But the question is:
Would calming down ones breathing patterns or breathing through the nose stop snoring?
Well, people snore through the mouth, nose, or both. But lot’s of snoring are mouth-based. And it is easy to address mouth snoring because you can correct it by learning to breathe through the nose during sleep.
On the flip side, nose snoring is correctable by unblocking the nose and correcting breathing volumes to normal.
Both antisnoring approaches can silence, calm, and still breathing to stop snoring. And that’s what Buteyko is all about. The technique aims to teach your system to breathe more gently, smoothly, and through the nose while awake. As a result, your breathing pattern – while awake – changes and carries forward to when asleep.
Does scientific research back up the Buteyko Breathing Technique?
According to NHS, Buteyko Breathing is an effective complementary therapy for the treatment of asthma. In fact, the study suggests that such a breathing technique can improve symptoms and reduce the need for reliever medicine for some people. But it also warns against replacing treatment with therapy. And scientific study still calls for further research as Buteyko Breathing Technique results are inconsistent.
But here’s a follow-up question that brings everything into perspective:
Is the Buteyko method scientifically proven to alleviate snoring?
No published studies evaluate the Buteyko Breathing Technique efficacy for snoring (but has plenty of peer review for asthma’s efficacy).
But as science discovers in athletic training, nasal breathing and very mild controlled hypoxia can improve respiratory function and performance. Buteyko Breathing Technique features daily slow breathing that observational studies say can alleviate apneic conditions and reduce snoring, though the mechanism isn’t clear.
How to Execute the Buteyko Breathing Technique for Snoring
Breathing a large volume of air through a narrow space is what causes snoring. Because, large air volume causes more turbulence that causes the soft tissue of the throat to vibrate. So the principle works by slowing your breathing to reduce pressure.
But the question is, how does one execute Buteyko exercises?
Before you advance to any Buteyko breathing exercises, here are essential points you should understand:
- The breathing exercises are effective when you do them with a Buteyko Breathing Practitioner. If you choose to do them yourself, you should be cautious because it isn’t going to be easy without another person observing your respiration
- Be gentle when executing the Buteyko breathing exercises
- Typically, each session will take around 30 minutes
- Sit in a comfortable place where there is no disturbance, apply the right posture – shoulder open, and back straight. You should not feel any tension in your body
- During the entires session, practice normal breathing – invisible breathing – where the chest and shoulder do not move when inhaling and exhaling. However, your belly should move a little. Note that breathing invisibly will take you time to master. But when starting, make a gentle effort to train yourself to breathe normally.
- Listen while you’re breathing—there should be no wheezing sounds. If your breathing isn’t quiet, train quiet breathing before starting Breath-Holds.
- Keep your mouth closed during the entire session and only breath through the nose
With that in mind, now let’s dive into the real deal—how you execute the Buteyko Breathing Exercise.
A Step-by-Step Guide to do Buteyko Breathing Exercises
a) Measure your Control Pause
According to the Buteyko clinic, Control Pause evaluates alveoli’s carbon dioxide levels—measuring a comfortable breath-hold.
And here’s how you measure your Control Pause:
- Gently inhale (for two seconds) and exhale (for three seconds). Using your hands, grasp your nostril on the ‘out’ breath with near-to-empty lungs. Your lungs shouldn’t be empty. Holding your nose with hands prevents air from entering the airway.
- Next, count the time –in seconds – it’ll take for you to feel the first push of your breathing muscle (Your breathing muscles stems from the region around your stomach or neck). When you feel push from these regions, release your nose but still breathe through the nose.
- The time you take before you feel the first push of your breathing muscle is your Control pause.
Now, this begs the question:
Why is measuring the Control Pause critical?
Well, Control Pause establishes the base of the rest Breath-Holds you’ll take. On your next exercises, avoid intakes that exceed the Control Pause because it will force you to take bigger breathes after measuring the Control Pause.
Plus, Control Pause determines how severe your snoring is.
- Changing your normal breathing before taking the Control Pause gives inconsistent results
- Taking the Control Pause immediately after exercise presents inaccurate values
- Your lungs should be partially empty when taking the Control Pause. Otherwise, the entire session will be uncomfortable and give the wrong measurement of the Control Pause
With the Control Pause out of the question, let’s trail to the next exercise.
b) Practice Breath Holds
After the Control Pause, now you’d need to apply the Buteyko Breathing, which spreads into five steps.
- Normal Inhalation Through the Nose
Sit upright and inhale a calm, normal nasal breathing. Avoid a deep breath. Instead, only focus on using your diaphragm to breathe but allowing the stomach to expand.
- Normal Exhalation Through the Nose
Next, exhale as you normally would through the nose. Again, use your diaphragm to push all air out of the lungs. Your chest should not move, but your stomach should move freely.
- Shorter Nasal Inhalation
After a normal exhalation, take a shorter, shallower, and lighter nasal breathe-in (1-2 seconds).
- Long Nasal Exhalation
Gently breathe out for over 5 seconds using the diaphragm to empty your lung. Then hold breath after breathing out for 5 seconds. If this duration feels strainful, you can switch to shorter breath Holds. Because strenuous breath Holds inhibit breathing improvement.
- Repeat Step 1-4
Repeat steps 1-4 for at least 30 minutes.
c) After the exercise, relax for two minutes and measure your Control Pause again. Then compare it with the one you started with. An increase in Control Pause indicates breathing improvement.
Overtime, sessions of the Buteyko Breathing exercise will raise your Control Pause and bring your breathing volume back to normal. As a result, your snoring will reduce or stop.
If it doesn’t, you might be doing it the wrong way. You can seek help from Buteyko Breathing Specialist or repeat the process taking keen attention to each step.
Alternatively, you can get a DVD from the Buteyko official site that would take you through a lecture series.
Where Else Can you Learn Buteyko Breathing Technique?
You can learn Buteyko Breathing Technique from plenty of places, including:
- Trained Buteyko therapist
- Books covering Buteyko techniques
- Online instructional videos
Buteyko Breathing Technique – Conclusion
Now comes the question you’ve probably been asking from the start:
Is Buteyko Breathing Technique the best snore-solution in the world?
No, because there is no scientific study to establish its efficacy in treating snoring. But, it’s way better than plenty of alternatives and scientifically proven to alleviate asthma. As a result, it can treat snoring’s root cause, and lots of people report that it works even in treating sleep apnea.
After all, snoring is a sign of an underlying respiratory problem, and the technique aims to correct multiple respiratory issues.