Nasal obstructions, sleep, and mental function - Lavie (1983)

Key Points

  • Nasal breathing during sleep is critical for proper mental function

The Breathing Diabetic Summary

This was a really short “Historical Note” looking at the importance of nose breathing during sleep.  There was not much pure science in this one, but a couple of things I wanted to share.

First, in 1889(!) a man by the name of Guye coined a term called “aprosexia”.  This might be my new favorite term.  The meaning?  The inability to concentrate due to obstructed nasal breathing.  So, over 100 years ago researchers were already aware of the importance of nasal breathing for mental clarity.  From a personal note, I believe switching to nasal breathing (especially during sleep) has improved my mental function, energy, and focus to the point where I cannot believe I was ever functioning before.  I can only imagine if I had found nose breathing sooner…

The author then describes some case studies from over a century ago that show that daytime drowsiness is alleviated when nasal breathing is restored.  However, the second thing I wanted to share was an amazing quote from the end.  The author goes back to Guye and his term aprosexia.  In the paper where Guye introduced aprosexia, he also advised that people should shut their mouth to save their brain.  Here, the author slightly modifies his quote to account for 100+ years of research since then highlighting the importance of nasal breathing during sleep:

While asleep, shut your mouth and save your brain.

Journal Reference:

Lavie, P., (1983) Nasal obstructions, sleep, and mental function, Sleep, 6 (3), 244 – 246,