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Sigh Your Way to Reduced Stress (Physiological Sigh 101)

Sigh Your Way to Reduced Stress (Physiological Sigh 101)

Most of us are no strangers to stress – especially in modern times. 

Recent findings show that half of all adults between the ages of 18-24 report symptoms of anxiety and depression in 2023, while a third of all adults overall report the same. 

We’re all feeling more stressed and anxious than ever before. 

Rather than waiting for your next vacation or weekend getaway to unwind, why not practice a technique that helps offload stress in real time?

According to a new study, there’s an easy way to lower stress levels anywhere, anytime. It’s called cyclic sighing, a breathing technique focused on lengthy exhalations. 

Therefore, you can literally sigh your way toward feelings of calm. 

Sigh About It!

*Sigh…*

The average person sighs once every five minutesor 12 times per hour. 

We sigh more often than usual when stressed. But why? Turns out, sighing is pretty useful for the respiratory system. 

Sighing helps to “pop” small air sacs within the lungs called alveoli that help facilitate healthy breathing. 

Image explains what alveoli are within the lungs

Usually, we don't have to give much thought to breathing or sighing. We tend to do it automatically as needed. 

However, conscious sighing is proven to help the brain shift into a state of calm. 

In stressful situations, sighs are essential for shifting out of sympathetic activation, AKA fight or flight. 

If you’ve ever observed a child (or adult) sobbing, they often tend to inhale twice followed by a long exhale. This self-soothing behavior helps return our nervous system to baseline. 

In fact, the pattern of inhaling twice followed by a long exhale is commonly referred to as a “physiological sigh” – and it’s been scientifically proven to be a powerhouse tool for stress relief. 

What Is A Physiological Sigh?

When we’re stressed, we start to breathe shallowly. This causes a buildup of carbon dioxide…and a buildup of stress!

As a result, we feel agitated, on edge, and even jittery. 

The physiological sigh helps to offload excess carbon dioxide quickly, causing enhanced feelings of calm and serenity. 

Lowered heart rate and improved oxygenation follow, continually increasing feelings of calm by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, or “rest and digest” response. 

Your body does this naturally during sleep to improve oxygenation – and you may have even noticed your dog doing it, too. 

However, by manually engaging in a physiological sigh, you’ll consciously shift your body and mind into a restful state. 

 

@somnifix The #physiologicalsigh helps with #carbondioxide offload, boosting #oxygenation while lowering #stress 😮‍💨 #parasympatheticactivation #didyouknowfacts #breathingexercise ♬ Dreamy - Elijah Lee

 

So how do you put it into action? To practice the physiological sigh, inhale. Just before you reach the top of your breath, force in a second inhalation. 

Then, expel all of your breath with one long exhale, sighing as you breathe out and letting your anxious thoughts go with it. That’s all there is to it!

Repeat this pattern three times or more to experience all that cyclic sighing has to offer. 

Stanford Neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman of Huberman Lab has recently drawn attention to this breathing pattern by putting it into practice compared to other popular relaxation techniques.

Putting The Physiological Sigh to The Test!

While the physiological sigh was first discovered in the 1930s, it’s recently gone through somewhat of a resurgence. 

Dr. Huberman’s lab recently conducted a study to compare the effectiveness of different mindfulness and breathing techniques. 

While we’ve known that traditional practices like yoga or meditation help to lower stress levels, scientists are only beginning to uncover how different mindfulness practices affect the brain and which ones are most beneficial for anxiety relief. 

According to the research, the most effective techniques to relieve stress and improve well-being are: 

  • Physiological sighing (also called cycle sighing)
  • Box breathing exercises
  • Cyclic hyperventilation
  • Mindfulness Meditation coupled with a natural breathing pattern 

Researchers monitored volunteers as they performed a randomly assigned exercise for five minutes per day over the course of a month. 

Woman meditating

They assessed results through questionnaires completed both before and after the exercises that asked questions about their anxiety levels on a scale from one to five. 

The team also monitored participants' respiratory rates and heart rate variability. 

All groups experienced higher mood levels and lowered anxiety, while the controlled breathing groups reported the most notable mood boosts. 

Physiological sighing took the cake as the top practice for lowering stress levels. 

Those who practiced cyclic sighing, or physiological sighs, reported the top daily improvements with positive effects that only increased over time. 

Therefore, the physiological sigh is proven to be more effective than mindfulness meditation and other breathing techniques. 

Practice the physiological sigh next time you’re feeling stressed and observe how you feel both before and after. 

If your mind tends to run at night, try practicing it before bed to shift into a state of calm. Once you’re ready to turn in, ensure you stay stress-free by breathing optimally while you sleep. 

Breathe Toward A State of Calm For Better Sleep

In case you haven’t heard yet, mouth breathing causes a whole host of problems. 

It’s harmful to your health in multiple ways and leads to: 

  • Over breathing and poor oxygenation
  • Dry mouth and bad breath
  • Dental issues, including cavities
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Snoring
  • Increased stress and anxiety due to sympathetic activation (fight or flight response) 
  • Poor immunity
  • Cardiovascular issues

Nasal breathing, however, prevents these issues and more by placing the body and mind in a relaxed state. 

We were designed to breathe through our noses.

In fact, nasal nitric oxide produced during nasal breathing acts as a vasodilator that enhances oxygen exchange and lowers stress levels. 

When we nasal breathe during sleep, restorative sleep becomes an attainable reality. 

Mouth breathing causes airway tissues to fall backward and vibrate together, producing the sound of snoring. 

Nasal breathing prevents these tissues from collapsing – leading to a snore-free night! There’s just one problem: how do you ensure you’re nasal breathing if you’re asleep?

Man uses mouth tape for improved sleep and snoring prevention

By taping your mouth sealed before bed! Yes – we’re serious!

While it sounds outlandish, mouth taping provides a proper lip seal that guarantees nasal breathing all night long. 

Be forewarned! Most tapes contain harmful chemicals that aren’t safe for contact with the skin. SomniFix is different.

Our Strips are hypoallergenic, latex-free, gluten-free, and recyclable. Our gel-like adhesive provides a fit so comfortable, you’ll forget you’re wearing mouth tape at all!

If you’re still unsure about the sensation of mouth taping, we’ve got you covered. Our patented small central breathing vent assures you’ll have a backup mouth breathing option if needed. 

Sigh (and tape) your way to reduced stress by adding the physiological sigh and SomniFix to your daily routine!

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