Ep. #951: James Nestor on the Art and Science of Breathing


Mike: [00:00:00] Hello there. Lovely listener. I’m Mike Matthews. This is muscle for life. Thank you for joining me today to learn about a topic that sounds kind of boring breathing our most basic biological function, something we do unconsciously all day, every day. But my guest today, James nester has taken that topic and turned it into a New York times best selling book because it’s actually a lot more fascinating than most of us realize and how we go about breathing can have drastic effects on our health and wellbeing.

And that is what today’s interview is going to be about. James is going to share some of the interesting things that he learned in researching. Book and exploring how we humans have lost the ability to breathe properly and what that is doing to our health and our well. Before we Wade into it, [00:01:00] your ability to gain muscle and gain strength is greatly impacted by how well your body can recover from your training and how strong you get in your training.

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James: is it the afternoon for you?

Just afternoon right now you hit it by about seven minutes. So yes, we’re safe to say that. So you’re uh, on the west coast then obviously I am indeed. Yes. Cool. 

Mike: Well, thanks for taking the time. Do this, I really appreciate it. And I wanna start by just saying that as somebody who has written a few books myself and sold a few books, it’s always fun for me to see somebody do what you’ve done with breath, because you’ve taken something that sounds kind of banal or breathing.

Okay. And then you made it interesting and made it practical and. Made it popular or at least more popular, more mainstream than it was before you [00:04:00] published your book. So congrats. 

James: Thanks a lot. Appreciate that. Yeah. 

Mike: And so this isn’t normally how I start these interviews, but I was curious, so I wanted ask what inspired you to write the book?

Like how did you get interested enough in breathing to wanna write a whole book on it? And cuz again, I’ll ask that cuz I I’ve written a few books and I know what it takes to do that. If you’re gonna do a good job. It 

James: wasn’t one thing in particular, it was a whole bunch of things that happened over years and years and years.

And I kept getting told no by every single person I talked to about this book from friends to journalists, to my agent, to my publisher, they thought it was a pretty bad idea I did as well, but it was only until years of digging and research, having my own personal experiences that I realized. I thought that there was another story that could be told about breathing.

If you go to a bookstore, there’s a lot of how to books. You’re pretty new agey. Feel good, nothing wrong with that, but they didn’t really get into the nitty gritty of why breathing’s important [00:05:00] and specifically why human breathing. My modern humans are the worst breathers in the animal kingdom. And so I thought that was a more interesting story to explore.

And I spent years and years digging into it, trying to figure it out. Why are we the worst breathers? Well, you can just look around and, and see, we have a face that is dramatically different than the faces of our ancestors. When I first discovered this, I didn’t believe it until researchers sold me to go look at old skulls, which, which I did for months and months.

And you notice something that all of our ancestors had straight teeth. They had very large mouths. They had these protic faces, these faces that grew outwards. And if you look around today, the vast majority of us have crooked teeth. Because our mouths are so small teeth wanna grow in crooked or they rather, they want to grow in straight, but our mouths are so small that they have to fight for position.

That’s why they grow in crooked [00:06:00] well prettier though. to a hundred percent not true. if you look at statues, you think if we had the, that might be pretty. Well, look at, look at Greek statues, right? It depends on what your definition of pretty is. And Lord knows there’s about 4 million different definitions for, for what attractive is now.

And that’s great. Next time you go. New museum. Look at old Greek statues. Look at old Greek paintings. Look at freezes on the wall. Look at Egyptian statues, and then look at what happens to. Paintings of people and sculptures of people starting around the 15 hundreds and 16 hundreds, and look what happens to their faces.

and that could be more attractive for some people, but functionally, it is much less efficient and much more troublesome to breathe through. A mouth that is too small. We tend to choke a lot more. We have chronic obstruction in our noses and it’s made us look dramatically different. I suppose 

Mike: I was [00:07:00] thinking more prehistoric in the aesthetic 

James: well, sure.

But, but there’s a beauty and function as well. You know, our ancestors were. Perfectly designed to function in that environment, which is why we’re around today and which is why so many other animals aren’t. But if you look at what’s considered traditional beauty, you know, and, and you look at our ancient human ancestors from 10,000 years ago, 5,000 years ago, 2000 years ago, 1000 years ago, they all had these pro these wide jaws and these, these.

Pro faces. And if you look at models today, models and sports stars, they tend almost all the time to have these, these wide faces. And that’s what we view as attractive because we’re viewed to things that are functional. Right. 

Mike: True. And, and so then how does that connect with 

James: breathing though? Connects with breathing, because if you have a mouth that’s too small for your face, you have a smaller airway.

If you have a smaller [00:08:00] airway, you’re gonna have trouble breathing. And this is one of the reasons why so many of us struggle with snoring and sleep apnea. Chronic sinusitis. This upper pallet of our mouths here is designed to be flat and very wide for the vast majority of us. Nowadays, that upper pallet goes up.

Impedes the airflow in our noses. So we end up breathing through our mouths all the time, which if we do that long enough, when we’re younger, our faces will actually grow differently. They will become more recessed, which will make it harder for us to breathe when we’re adults. So add to that. The posture that everyone’s sitting in.

I’m a great example of that right now, hunched over a desk for 10 hours a day, you know, add to that pollution, allergens, indoor pollution, outdoor pollution. And it’s just been a recipe for respiratory disaster. And that’s what we’re seeing all over the planet right now. And so 

Mike: if I’m hearing you correctly, then one of the, the primary factors in this change [00:09:00] in our jaw in our faces is mouth.

Too much mouth 

James: breathing. That’s one of them. Most of it is due to the industrialized diet that we started eating about 300 years ago, depending on where you were maybe a little earlier, maybe a little later than that, that food did not allow us to chew a lot. And our ancestors were chewing for hours a day, which is one of the main reasons why they had these big.

Protic faces, right? You also have a population that has not been breasted for, for two years and three years, which makes a big difference for, for facial growth. And then after that, after infancy, you’ve got an environment that teaches people to sit down in front of stuff hunched over all day. And when they’re not working in this position, They’re like that when they’re at home hunched over looking at a computer watching TV and we’re chronically obstructed, the majority of us suffer from some sort of chronic obstruction because of, again, pollution, [00:10:00] allergens, some immune issues.

So all of these things, not just one in particular, there’s some that have been more powerful drivers than others, but all of these things have, have combined to really make us terrible breathers and that’s taken such a huge hit to our health because of that. What are 

Mike: some of the. Negative effects that people might not be aware of that stem directly from either mostly or, or exclusively from just a lot of 

James: bad breathing.

I think that people are aware that if you breathe improperly, it can make it harder to, to work out. If you’re, if you’re easing seems like that, that word is getting out and about. But what a lot of people don’t realize is how you breathe, especially how you breathe at night will determine your chances of having.

Stroke later on in life will help influence whether or not you get heart disease will help influence whether or not you get metabolic syndrome, diabetes and more who knew that all of these chronic conditions [00:11:00] were tied to our breathing specifically sleep, disordered, breathing. So. If you look at all of the vast majority of the chronic maladies that we are suffering from today, these are conditions that humans have created.

They are not around in a natural environment. These are things that, that we’ve created. So the way that we can help ameliorate these, these problems and, and reduce them. Get rid of them entirely is to turn back to a more natural form. If you look at animals in the wild, look at how they’re breathing, right.

Look at a horse, running at full sprint, how it’s breathing at cheetah running at, you know, 50, 60 miles per hour, how it’s breathing, it’s breathing through its nose, into its belly. And it’s so rare that you F you see people breathing this way, especially at night. The vast majority of us are. Mouth breathers at night and it’s, it’s just, it’s affecting us in enumerable ways.

I named a few of them, but there are many more than that. [00:12:00] And 

Mike: speaking of breathing through your mouth at night so can you talk to us about. Mouth taping, which when I first heard about it, I actually heard about it. It wasn’t from you. I heard about it from somebody else. And of course my initial assumption was this has to be bullshit.

Right. And let me, let me look at this. Then I was like, there actually seems to be something to this and I even did it a bit myself and didn’t notice much of a difference probably because I don’t breathe too much through my mouth at night, I suppose. But I thought it was interesting. 

James: Yeah. So I heard about this years and years ago, I was in the same position as you.

I thought that this was just. Complete idiocy and it didn’t help to go on YouTube and see people using duct tape and seven different pieces of tape that they do this thing. Every now it’s like for this is so stupid. And it wasn’t until months and months after that, that I started talking with researchers, clinicians at Stanford, other leaders in the field, they say, don’t tell anyone, but I prescribe this to all my patients.[00:13:00] 

And I said, well, why aren’t you more open about this? They said, because people are gonna think I’m a quack, but I’ve been doing it for decades. And it’s so effective, especially for kids who chronic mouth breathers, especially at, at night and for adults as. So to be clear, mouth taping, isn’t gonna cure everyone’s problems.

Right. But from what I’ve seen, there are only benefits to be had from this. For some people, those benefits are very small for other people. It’s completely transformed their health, completely people who have been chronic snores for the whole lives for decades and decades. No longer snore when they mouth tape, same thing with sleep apnea can be greatly reduced.

Am I saying that this is gonna work for you? If you have sleep apnea now? No , but it will have some sort of effect on you. And that effect from what I’ve seen will be positive could be micro, could be major. So I, it wasn’t until I actually tried this. That I realized I was a mouth breather at night, as long as I’ve known, I thought it was normal [00:14:00] to go to bed with a pint of water by your bedside and to wake up and go pee a few times a night until I started breathing through my nose and realized that I didn’t need that water.

I didn’t need to wake up and, and go to the restroom throughout the night. And my sleep quality just went through the roof. Just by closing my mouth because of course it did. how you breathe during night is, is so important to your sleep cycles and your stress levels and more, how 

Mike: does that affect sleep cycles and stress 

James: levels when we’re sleeping, when you’re breathing through your mouth, especially when you’re choking or you’re snoring, you’re stressing your body out, right?

So you’re increasing your you’re gonna. Spikes and blood sugar cortisol. You’re gonna be waking yourself up. You’re gonna be inhibiting yourself from entering into those very deep layers of deep sleep, which are so essential. Those are usually the, the layers that we get into earlier on in the night. If you look at people with chronic sleep apnea, they never really enter into those deep sleep stages, which means they’re never able to [00:15:00] really filter out all the junk in their brains and start anew.

And if you don’t do that for long enough, you’re gonna suffer. You’re gonna suffer. From mental issues, you’re gonna suffer from physical issues. This is not controversial stuff, right? We’ve known this for decades and decades. So breathing through your mouth makes it much easier to snore or have sleep disorder breathing.

What happens when you breathe a lot of air quickly, it’s really easy to make that sound. Now breathe very softly in a rhythm through your nose and try to snore. Almost impossible. So the nose is slowing down that air and it’s controlling your respiration. So you don’t go.

It’s hard to do that when you’re breathing through the nose. So this trains you into that natural sleep cycle and that natural respiration, which will allow you to have better quality sleep. If you look at other animals sleeping, look at how they’re breathing, they’re breathing through the [00:16:00] nose. I think nature knows something and I’m sure humans were breathing through their noses.

When they were sleeping be before the modern age, at least a lot more than, than we are. And can we 

Mike: train ourselves to breathe better? So it becomes instinctual and we’re not. Constantly having to pay attention to cave, breathing in deeply into the stomach. 

James: yeah. You know, the last thing any of us needs is another thing to feel guilty about.

We’ve got enough of that with diet, you know, reading the label of every single package of food, counting calories, counting carbs, counting protein, counting fat. We get enough of that exercising. Did I get my 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day? Did I work out for two hours? Like I said, I was. Then you haven’t even 

Mike: touched nutrition yet.

Did I eat enough fruit today? I eaten enough vegetables that eat 

James: a yeah. I’ve had too much fructose. Oh no. You know, I, I glucose is okay, but fructose, I, I think my liver is shutting down. Yeah. Am I in [00:17:00] ketos? Oh my God. Did I just eat lectins in those, you know, fava beans? 

Mike: Let me check my my constant glucose monitor.

Yeah. And 

James: you know what, for a lot of people, that stuff is so important. We have the power to take our health into our own hands now, which I think is so exciting with all of these wearables and with all of this knowledge about nutrition and exercise. It’s awesome. But I don’t think we need to feel guilty or we need orders in, in another category.

So, unfortunately though, you can eat all the right foods. You can exercise all you want, but if you aren’t breathing correctly, you’re never, ever gonna be healthy ever. And I believe that more now that than I ever have. So you have to find a way of fixing your dysfunctional breathing and the majority of us are breathing dysfunctionally.

That’s just a fact. So what I’ve found is all of these methods. Sleep tape, controlling your respiration throughout the day, coherent breathing some breath, work. All of these things help train you to [00:18:00] become normal. They don’t make you super human. They just get you down to that. Normal level, which is where you should have been.

And after a while, for some people, these habits can be adopted after a couple of weeks of breathing properly, their bodies just get it. And then they never have to think about it because. Breathing is an unconscious act, right? You wanna set your body up for that natural rhythm? So it becomes unconscious other people it’s gonna take months.

Maybe some people it’s gonna take years. So it depends on how dysfunctional your breathing is. Depends specifically on what that dysfunction is. Is it. Dysfunctional breathing at night. Is it dysfunctional breathing while you’re exercising at rest? When you’re sitting on a couch, whatever, but these simple steps, the point is not to make you feel guilty.

It’s to acclimate your body to normal breathing. So you breathe that way, unconsciously, the rest of your life. And 

Mike: you mentioned breath work. Is there a simple [00:19:00] routine? Worked well for you or that you would share? You know, I think of, for example, I run through about 10 minutes of yoga poses, just for stretching for me.

My hips tend to get tight and my shoulders tend to get tight. So I do, it’s no more than 10 minutes a day, but that’s really helped a lot in the gym. And I would say just in general and it’s, you know, something simple that. Doesn’t take 

James: much time. Well, everyone’s different. I, I make a big point in the book not to prescribe the same thing to everyone and say, you just need to do this, and you’re gonna be cool because people are of different sizes.

They have different tolerance levels. They have different problems with their breathing. So you have to experiment with different stuff and see what works best for you. I’ve found that more vigorous breath work. I really respond to. I like Kini. I like Koreas. I like the real intense stuff. Whim, H method is fantastic.

The science behind that is rock solid, but some people will respond to [00:20:00] much more mellow breathing. I try to make a point in the book also before you want go from like zero to a hundred with your breathing, you have. Be able to breathe. Normally first, this isn’t as sexy and as fun to wear sleep tape and to breathe in these very slow rhythms throughout the day than it is to show up with a whole group of people and to breathe to hallucinate.

Like, you know, that’s, that’s quite an adventure, but it’s necessary to get that normal. Stasis that, that solid breathing down before you bump up to the next level of human potential. When you say 

Mike: breathing at a, at a slower rhythm, what do you mean? 

James: Most of us breathe too much and we breathe too quickly.

So if you look at what is considered normal right now, anywhere from 12 to 20 breaths, a minute is what’s considered normal about 50 years ago. It was about eight to 12. So you see how, how much that has shifted. [00:21:00] So many people are breathing so much. And once you cover yourself with sensors and sit in a lab, something I’ve done a zillion times at this point, and you notice what happens to your body.

When you fill up your lungs a little more, you allow your diaphragm to descend a little more. You take fewer breaths, but each of those breaths are richer, a little deeper and calmer. You look at what happens to your blood pressure, your heart rate, your heart rate, variability, other markers of stress and relaxation, and your whole body enters this state of coherence where everything works.

At perfect efficiency, which is exactly what you want, which is why this slow breathing is referred to as resonant or coherent breathing, which is why it’s used all over the world by not only therapists, but for people with blood pressure issues or autoimmune issues or depression issues, everyone can benefit [00:22:00] from running a little more efficient.

Mike: It sounds like, that’s something that also would be great to do at night when you’re winding down. Maybe even in bed when you’re trying to go to. 

James: Absolutely. And a lot of people have used this and found it. It has really been helpful for sleep. Not only the, the sleep tape thing, which you can do or not do, I don’t, I don’t care what you, what you do.

I found it’s been a huge benefit to me, and that’s the one thing I’ve heard more from people than anything else, thousands and thousands of people is how much that’s transformed their, their sleep and their lives. But this slow breathing, whenever you’re traveling, I’ve found is really effective and you can slow it.

Even more to lower your heart rate, even more. This is something you shouldn’t do in the middle of the day, cuz it’ll make you too mellow. And sometimes you don’t wanna be too mellow, but if you’re on a plane and you’ve got another 10 hours to go, or if you’re agitated need to go to sleep, you can breathe into account of about four.

Hold for seven exhale [00:23:00] for eight. We’ll just do that once. So you breathe in 2, 3, 4, hold 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, exhale, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, just like that’s very simple. And if you put your hand over your heart, you’re gonna notice when you’re holding your breath or exhaling. Your heart rate is gonna decrease because this is you controlling your biology.

It’s you tapping into your nervous system and allowing your body to feel safe and to relax. Once you’re in that state, it’s much easier to fall asleep. I know this is something 

Mike: soldiers even talk about in, in fire for helping. Regulate their heart rate and just keeping their body under control so they can continue to fight back.

So if it can work under those conditions. Yeah. 

James: The last thing you want to do is have a scattered brain when your life is on the [00:24:00] line. And a lot of military use box breathing, inhale to four, hold for four out for four, hold for four, just like a box. And if you think of someone like a sniper. I can’t imagine a sniper being good at his or her job going.

the very first thing you do when you learn how to shoot is to control your breath and to listen to your heartbeat and shoot between those heartbeats. Right? So this is essential, not only for extremely high stress situations like that, but. When you’re stressed out in, in your office when you’re about to go on and perform somewhere, when you’re about to go and talk somewhere, taking these slow rhythmic breaths can change the way your brain functions and how your body functions as well.

Can you talk to us a little bit 

Mike: more about the mouth taping, because for people who haven’t heard of this, they’re gonna be wondering, [00:25:00] okay, so we, duct tape is out. Understand that what kind of tape? And they might have some concerns, probably the concerns that both of us had when we first heard about it.

James: Well, I’m in my office, in my backyard here. I usually have a role of this stuff. I’m looking for it right now. I don’t think I. It got kicked outta the house today. So you’ve, you’ve got me in my, my backyard shed. When I heard the, the 

Mike: backyard shed. I got a little bit jealous actually, cuz I’m in a smaller house right now.

I’m building a house, but I’m in a rental. My kid, this house is made out of like cardboard and tile. So if my daughter drops a penny in the other room, I can hear it. And I miss the days when I could just not hear anything. 

James: Hours at a time. That’s the exact reason I built this place. It’s about four by seven feet.

So it’s about the size of a phone booth fits a computer in your chair. And that’s it. The unfortunate thing is sometimes the neighbors are really fastidious about their gardening. So sometimes some Asha comes out there with a leap blower, but you know, that’s life living, [00:26:00] living in a city back to work here.

Everybody you wanna know about sleep tape, mouth taping, you wanna know about the best tape, what to use. I don’t care what you use. Okay. I have no it’s mouth taping brand. If I was smart, maybe I would’ve released that a couple years ago. Didn’t happen. What I’ve found has worked best for me is micropore tape.

It’s surgical tape. You can buy at Walgreens or Amazon or at your local independent pharmacy, wherever you want. What this stuff is, is it’s designed to be put on skin and taken off. And so it has this very mild adhesive. What you don’t want is something like gorilla tape. Or duct tape. Like that’s such a bad idea.

You want something that’s gonna come right off because the point of this tape isn’t to her medically seal your mouth shut, like. Hostage situation, right? It’s to just put it on your mouth to remind your mouth, remind your body, to keep your mouth shut at any time when you’re using it, it comes right [00:27:00] off, which is what it’s supposed to do.

So with this stuff, I, this micropore tape. What I do is I put my fingers on it a few times and just make sure that there’s hardly any adhesive on it. Then I put it on my mouth and I’ve experimented with not using this at night. My sleep quality goes straight down. I record my sleep with an or ring whooping, all that stuff.

And whenever I put this stuff on, it goes back up to where it was. So I travel with this. I, I have a hard time sleeping without it, even when I’m, when I’m camping or whatever, it’s a weird habit, but you’ll see if you’re like me and so many other people what a difference. It. It’s interesting 

Mike: that your body hasn’t become attuned to sleeping that way.

And it still requires the tape, huh? 

James: Yeah, it is. And it’s unfortunate to tell you the truth. I don’t happen to possess one of those big protic faces with one of those big wide jaws. So a lot of people. Can wear the sleep [00:28:00] type for just a couple of weeks and they naturally will keep their mouth shut. Okay.

They, they learn how to do this. I don’t do that because whenever I put my head down on a pillow, my mouth opens. That’s my natural position is to have my mouth open. And so I have to wear this tape. This isn’t true for, I, I don’t know an estimate, maybe 50% of the people won’t need sleep tape after few weeks, few months, I’m not in that 50%.

I’m gonna need it. The, the rest of my life and need and want is a different thing. I don’t need it. I’ll survive without it, but I’ll be. Significantly less healthy because my sleep quality will go down. And for people who 

Mike: are not sure whether they breathe through their mouth at night, are there, are there some common symptoms?

Like, I mean, people could probably deduce, sorry. If you wake up very thirsty, very dry mouth. That could be one, right? 

James: That’s really the first one. If your mouth is pasty and dry, when you wake [00:29:00] up, you are breathing through your mouth. This isn’t really clear, rigorous. Science, but if you tend to go pee a lot throughout the night, Might that might suggest that you have some sleep disorder breathing.

You aren’t able to go in those deep stages of sleep and release the proper hormones of, of vasopressin specifically to allow yourself to store water comfortably to not do that. I noticed that once I was able to have really get into those deeper levels of sleep, I did not have to go to the restroom so often.

And so many other people have said the same thing. You’ll have to figure out for yourself. So you can also ask your partner if you sleep with someone, if, if they breathe through their mouth and a lot of people are gonna deny it, they’re gonna say, there’s no way I’m a mouth breather, but more than 60% of us breathe through our mouths.

And I, I don’t care if you’re super fit and you’re vegan or your keto or whatever. The majority of us are breathing through our mouths at night. [00:30:00] You can continue to do that. That’s fine, but you’re gonna put yourself more at risk for having respiratory problems and lower sleep. 

Mike: Yeah. I mean it, the, the worst we sleep, the worst, basically everything that matters in our body functions.

Right? So if you know, I’ll joke sometimes I’ll tell people if, if you wanna see what you’re really capable of, figure out getting eight hours of good sleep every 

James: night. and I think part of that, it’s, it’s not only the amount of time that you’re sleeping, but again, the quality of sleep there’s so many people who can sleep nine hours.

And say, well, I’ve got nine hours. I’m, I’m good to go. They’re not sleeping well. And what I’ve found is so much of sleep quality is based on breathing quality, not all of it, but so much of it is. And once you figure that out, there’s a good chance that your sleep will improve and thus your health and life will improve.

Mike: Hey there. If you are hearing this, you are still listening, which is awesome. Thank you. [00:31:00] And if you are enjoying this podcast, or if you just like my podcast in general and you are getting at least something out of it, would you mind sharing it with a friend or a loved one or a not so loved one, even. Who might want to learn something new word of mouth helps really bigly in growing the show.

So if you think of someone who might like this episode or another one, please do tell them about it. Question with the mouth taping. This is cuz cuz I was doing it just for fun for several weeks. And one was facial hair, like, you know, right now I’m kind of shaving, but if my facial hair was grown out a bit more, it was the, the tape w would come off easier.

And then sometimes, probably half of the nights cuz I, I tend to roll over on a side. I don’t, I don’t sleep on my stomach, but I’ll tend to go over on the side and then. My, my lips would be parted just a little bit and then saliva gets through and then I’d wake up. I’ve lost half of my, my seal. It’s [00:32:00] almost useless at that point.

Did you run into any 

James: of those issues? Yeah, I did for months and months until I figured out a system that worked for me. And again, I want to say that everyone’s gonna find their own system. They’re gonna find what works for them. But as far as the tape coming off, and a lot of people think that mouth breathing at night has to be, it doesn’t have to be with a huge open mouth.

Your lips just slightly parted. Okay. And so when people say, oh, I’m not a mouth breather because I’m not, I don’t have my mouth cleaned open. It’s not, not true. So for a lot of people placing the tape across all of the, the entire lip is, has been very beneficial. I did that for a long time until now. I, all I need is a teeny little.

Teeny little square of it. The center of my lips and my mouth stays closed. If you notice that DRL is coming out of your mouth at night, then your mouth’s not closed, right. That shouldn’t be happening. That, that isn’t a natural thing for us to sleep and have Dr. Coming out. So I think you need [00:33:00] to tape up a little more with this whole argument that people say, oh, I have a beard.

I can’t use sleep tape. Total garbage. What you’re taping is your lips, not, not your beard. So there are some sleep tapes that go all the way around the mouth. People want to use those. That’s cool. I don’t think it’s necessary at all. You’re just taping your lips with a piece of tape that has a mild adhesive.

Again, I wanna be clear that at any time in the night, you can just go and it should be coming off. If you have to struggle to get this off, you’re doing it totally wrong. This should be able to, to come off very. And, 

Mike: So again, I, I guess in, in my case I was moving around enough or whatever was happening enough to, to get it to at least come off partially.

So it would’ve been a matter of just persisting, 

James: Yeah. Or find a different kind of tape. I was using the micropore as well. Yeah. Okay. Maybe you need even more adhesive on it, but I would experiment with it. I wanna mention one thing. That’s super important. This [00:34:00] is one of the reasons a lot of people try sleep tape and then don’t do it anymore.

Is in the morning when it’s time to take off the tape, people tend to just rip it. And their lips get completely chewed up. I made that mistake too. Okay. This is a terrible thing to do. So how you do it again? I, I wish I was in my other studio where I had some tape. I’m looking for some, but how you do it is you never take it off with your finger ever, ever, ever put your hands up and you put your tongue in there.

You don’t have to put your hands up. I was just doing that to, to accentuate, but you. Take it off with your tongue. Okay. Just put your tongue back and forth on your lips until the tape comes off this way. You’re not causing all of that irritation to your lips every time and this way your lips won’t be affected and you’ll be.

Wanting to use it the next night, instead of cursing me and everyone else who has told you to use sleep tape. 

Mike: And, and I’m assuming with your lips, you’re not doing anything special. It’s just [00:35:00] a, a normal mouth closed position. You’re not like duck facing, or you are trying to suck 

James: your lips in at all. And I’m not here to judge.

Someone wants to like hang upside down, you know, and, and, and develop some extremely complicated procedure to doing this. God bless him. Go for it. The only thing I use that I’ve found is effective is. My lips are shut. Just a piece of tape. You just, I windshield wiper back and forth until the tape comes off and I’ll do that.

Maybe five strokes of my tongue on my lips and the tape comes off and I’m gonna go. So that’s what I would highly suggest people do. I know this seems like a lot of orders. It’s not, you find if piece of tape with easy adhesive, take it off with your tongue done and done. That’s that’s all you need to do.

Yeah, for 

Mike: what it’s worth. I was using 3m micro report tape and it, it generally worked well kinda. I ran into a couple of issues there. But I’m inspired to [00:36:00] try it again. The thing with my sleep is this was not a case, so I’m 30. Eight now, and this was not a case 10 years ago. I mean, 10 years ago would pass out unconscious five minutes black out for six and a half, seven hours.

Wake up, feel totally fine. You know, twenties, invincible basically. But now after having two kids that probably didn’t help in the sleep department, but I don’t have trouble falling asleep. I can have trouble staying asleep. So I will wake up several times at night and sometimes I have to pee. I’ve I’ve actually intentionally.

Stayed away from water at least an hour or so before I’ve gone to bed. And so I’ve tried many different things and what seems to be most associated with my sleep quality, no surprise is, is just kind of general stress and aggravation levels. Like if I am generally dealing with a lot of annoying bullshit, that is generally just aggravating me a lot.

Then unfortunately, when I was younger, it didn’t seem to have this effect, but now that I’ve gotten older, I, I see it in my sleep, even though. I [00:37:00] wouldn’t even say that I feel very stressed per se. I guess it’s just enough, whereas I can think of times when I’m having fun and things are not pissing me off all the time.

Cuz running businesses in particular. There’s a lot of stuff. That’s just not very fun. I will immediately start sleeping better. So it’s, it might unfortunately be a matter of, in my case having to address really the underlying cause that that. Bringing me into this heightened kind of, again, I guess, overstressed kind of state and is not necessarily as simple as well.

Just tape your mouth and you’ll be fine. Although I am inspired 

James: to try it again. No, no. And I would never say that, you know, The mouth tape is, I think it’s all about removing barriers of finding those things you can improve and improving them. When you look at the scientific literature, so many sleep issues are tired to sleep disorder breathing.

That’s just a fact, if you talk, yeah. Sometimes if [00:38:00] you’re extremely stressed out, you have trouble sleeping. It’s it’s your mind is racing, but. You have to find the core reason of your sleep disturbance and then drill down into that. And you are only gonna benefit from, from breathing better when you’re sleeping.

Right. Is it gonna cure all your problems? Of course not, but you’ve removed that barrier. And so the next one is so, okay. My mind is racing. What can I do to chill myself out? I found breathwork or a short meditation. Before you go to sleep and I’ve talked to many sleep experts about this. They said, you know, you need really good sleep hygiene about an hour before you’re going to sleep.

You’re just prepping for it. It’s like you’re getting ready for a big show, right? Or, or a workout or something. You’re, you’re doing all the right things. You’re not drinking too much water. The lights are low. You’ve got your blue blocker glasses on, you know, you’re just chilling things out and making it very, very mellow and relaxed.

I’ve found that some mellow breathwork even doing whim H method or, or [00:39:00] vigorous crea has put me right to sleep when I’ve been stressed, because it, those intense Breathworks what they do is they focus all your stress. They’re stressful to do, right. They take a lot of energy to do. And so afterwards that stress is spent and you’re.

The down flow of that. And, and so you get it right when you’re truly relaxing and I’ve found that’s been. Really beneficial to me. And I can sympathize with your, you know, I wish I was just sitting around writing books, but, but you’re doing all this other crap that just drives you insane all day, because this is the modern world and you’re trying to keep your head above water.

So those things have, have really. Worked for me, especially switching time zones all the time. What do you do if you just flew into Europe? I always do breath work and I always use sleep tape and I always try to really mellow myself out an hour before I’m going to sleep wherever I am in the world. Yeah, I 

Mike: appreciate [00:40:00] you sharing that.

And I’ve, I’ve been fairly good in that regard as well. And in my case is interesting in that I rarely ever have trouble falling asleep. My Ru my mind is basically never racing. If it’s a bad night, I’m just gonna wake up four or five times for no great reason. And I’ll fall back asleep fairly quickly.

It’s, it’s an odd situation. It’s there are other people out there who certainly have the same issue, but it’s not. Common reason of, you know, I’m just feeling so stressed and I have so many things going on and again, it changes immediately and markedly, if I am just not dealing with all the normal bullshit that I don’t like to deal with 

James: well, I think, you know your solution.

I know, I think I, maybe I’m just reaching. 

Mike: A point of where it’s time 

James: to make a change. Yeah. I I’ll put on the psychologist hat here. Well, I think, you know, what’s know what’s going on, man. Sell it all and move to Puerto Rico. Sit on the beach. I think, you know, that’s, that’s the solution you’ll be sleeping.

[00:41:00] Great. That almost certainly 

Mike: would work. It might not be the best best idea 

James: right now, but it probably would work. no. Don’t tell the wife. Yeah, you’re good. Yeah, yeah, 

Mike: yeah, exactly. She’s into horses. I don’t think there’s a horse scene in Puerto Rico. So I 

James: think, I think you would be surprised on, on that, that count.

I think there’s probably a big horse scene in, in Puerto Rico, but anyway, breathing here, we are talking about breathing. Yes, sir. Yes, 

Mike: sir. Well, that actually was, was all the questions that I had for you. Is there anything that we didn’t cover that you think would be worthwhile to, to add here at the.

James: Well, this is muscle for life, right? We have to talk about muscles and breathing. Of course, I didn’t even think of that myself. I usually don’t prepare for these, but I said, damn muscle for life. I gotta, I gotta deliver some goods here, but I, I think the one thing, if, if you look at performance and if you look at athletic training for so long, We haven’t focused on breathing.

We [00:42:00] focused on every imaginable, nutrient out there and optimizing those, we focused on, you know, anaerobic versus aerobic, but we haven’t focused on the actual respiration that’s happening. While you’re working out. And I think that this has been a, a real blind spot for so many trainers. It’s, it’s changing now dramatically.

So many trainers are starting with breathing because when you’re working out and you’re trying to build muscle, I think it’s so important to be able to be running aerobically. You can run anaerobically for a little while, but if you do that too long, you’re gonna wear down. And, and so a aerobic. Energy is so much more efficient and is so much better for your body.

And you can only do that. Efficiently by breathing efficiently. And I mention this because there’s a gym down the street from my house. I see the people in there breathing. Like it doesn’t [00:43:00] matter if they’re on stationary bike, if they’re lifting weights, whatever, it’s a fricking disaster. And they think that they’re working out harder because they’re going, they think their body they’re doing their body favors, but, but they’re not, they’re there to be healthier.

Presumably. But they’re really not enabling their body to work at an efficient label where they be able to build more muscle and be able to come back and work out even stronger the next time. So I know this sounds a bit soap boxy, but I think if people are interested in building muscle, you have to also become interested in how you’re fueling those muscles.

The vast majority of the energy we get is from our breath. It’s not from food or drinks, so it’s definitely something you should be paying attention to. And just 

Mike: to to, to follow on that. So something to consider, like if you’re doing. Serious weightlifting, particularly with, let’s say exercises more whole body [00:44:00] exercises, like a squat, or maybe a dead lift, or maybe an overhead press to stabilize your torso and stabilize your core effectively.

You really need to. Hold your breath for it. Doesn’t have to be for an entire set, but like, let’s say you’re squatting, right? And let’s say there’s a fair amount of weight. You’re not just goofing around with the bar or something. So you’re gonna take a deep breath into your stomach. You’re gonna brace your abs as if you’re, you are about to get punched, right.

And you can press your tongue into the roof of your mouth as well and hold your breath. And then you. Get one or two reps out of that have to reset your breath. And so a, a common weightlifting mistake in particular that newer people will make is they will try to breathe continuously and quote unquote normally throughout a set.

And that can actually be dangerous if the weights start to get heavy, because you inevitably lose tension in your core, which then like you [00:45:00] can think of. Putting a bunch of weight on your back and then not having a stable core that can lead to in injury. 

James: Yeah. I completely agree with you. And if you think of what happens when right now, even if you’re hunched over a desk or in a car, whatever you take a big, big breath.

You look at what happens to your posture. Look, what happens to your back, look at what happens to your shoulders. We have these two huge balloons here, right? And of course, they’re gonna dictate how our posture is. And especially when you’re loading weight on top of that, your posture is so important. And when you see people over breathing or breathing too much, when they’re posting large amounts of weight, This is very dangerous.

you know, it’s this is how people can get really injured. So one of the things. I think is so important in developing healthy breathing habits. Part of that is to breathe, learn how to breathe fewer breaths, but deeper breaths. This is gonna push the diaphragm [00:46:00] down. It’s gonna make your rib cage and the intercostals more elastic so that you can have that more solid posture.

When you’re working out and lifting weights, it’s not something you can just immediately work on when you’re in the gym, right. This takes a long time to develop that DIAP formatic motion, the incursion and excursion of that breath and of that diaphragm. So this is something that people can do. Anytime.

If you’re sitting in a car, if you’re sitting at your desk, if you’re watching Netflix, whatever. It’s just focus on taking fewer, but slightly deeper enriching breaths. Not only will you be able to get oxygen more easily this way, not only will you be calming yourself down, but you’ll also be building up that diaphragmatic motion, which can help you in the gym and can especially help you in, in your posture when you’re lifting loads.

Mike: And you can also practice in between sets when you’re resting. It’s actually a good time to take [00:47:00] those deep diaphragmatic. Breaths because you are going to recover faster in between sets and for people who are into weightlifting, that can actually make a significant difference in the effectiveness of your workouts.

Because most, most people who are really into it, they are keeping themselves on the clock in between sets. So maybe it’s two and a half minutes or two minutes that they get max would be three or three and a half, maybe in between sets of like really heavy squats or deadlifts and the. Amount of performance that you recover in between sets is impacted, right by how you’re breathing.

Of course there are other factors, but that’s one of the factors right? 

James: Of, of, of course it is. And if you see people working out and again, I see this all the time in between sets, they’re just. Checking their email. Why not get your heart rate down? Why don’t you, you get your blood flowing. Why don’t you open up those blood vessels?

Right. And focus there on the [00:48:00] moment and concentrate. And I think that’s how you’re gonna get the most out of your workout. And you’re gonna be able to filter out all the toxins from your body, much more effectively this way, and also feed your hungry muscles, which is what you’re presumably in a gym to do.

So I think it’s been overlooked for, for a long time. I think people viewed it as some woo woo thing. But if you look at the science it’s been there for, for decades and decades and it’s solid and. The only thing you need to do is to just understand that this isn’t some placebo effect. This is just you accessing your own biology, right?

And it’s you toning and enabling yourself to perform to, to your utmost potential, which is what you would want to do. And, and 

Mike: an emphasis on the importance of breathing and its connection to life. I mean, that goes back thousands of years, right? This is nothing new. It’s just modern science confirming what.

Known to our ancient ancestors, 

James: right? Yeah. E [00:49:00] everything in the book. And I hope I was very clear about this. This, this knowledge has been around in various cultures. Thousands of years, one culture would discover it 5,000 years ago. Another culture completely independent of them would discover the exact same thing, the exact same breathing techniques and say, this is a medicine.

Breath is a medicine. And it was considered that way up until probably the, the last century where we thought that. Drugs could fix everything. They fixed a lot of things, but they didn’t fix everything. And you, you have to have your body tuned up, especially when we’re battered by all of the damage that the modern world is doing to us from pollution to our sitting position to stress levels.

Activity levels, activity levels. You, you name it zoom problems as we had for 15 minutes before we got on here, extra stress, extra aggravation. But if you’re gonna make it through that, you know, you, you have to take care of your body if, if you wanted to remain balanced. And, and I [00:50:00] think that breathing is, is something that’s been often ignored, but is a central part, an essential pillar of our health.


Mike: Yeah. I, I often say we have to take care of ourselves. We can’t just take pills. Sometimes you need to take pills, but that is not the solution for health. It’s a good way to make money, but it’s not a, not a good way to, to make healthy people. But this was a, a great interview, James. I really appreciate again, you doing it and why don’t we wrap up with where people can find you and your work, and if there’s anything in particular you want them to know about.

If, if you have another project already in the works, you want people to know. 

James: Sure. I’m. Trying to get better at the social media thing. So I’m on Instagram, Mr. James nester. That’s Mr. James nester. I also have a website with about 400, 500 scientific references on it, breathing exercises. People can do interviews with experts.

All of it’s free. There’s no paywall, anything like that. That’s at Mr. James nester.com and we’re starting to do breathing retreats. [00:51:00] Which had been a, a real blast a week long retreat where people can come and learn from the experts in, in the field and get around and rediscover this thing called breath.


Mike: they can learn about that at your website 

James: as well. I assume they can learn about it at, at the website. And yeah, I have a book out too, but you can learn about that at the website. That came out a couple years. And 

Mike: again, that’ll be of course, linked in the show notes and mentioned in the intro, but for anyone who hasn’t come across the, the title yet it’s breadth.

And I don’t have the subtitle off the top of my head. But if you put in, you go to wherever you buy books and search for breath, nester, even breath, James it’ll come up. Right. 

James: It should. Otherwise that go leave that store. If it doesn. Just yeah. Find a, find a better search engine. Just immediately find a better store.

Dammit. Well, 

Mike: thanks again, James. This was a, a great interview. I appreciate it.

James: Sure. Thanks a lot for having. Well, 

Mike: I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful. And if you did subscribe to the show, [00:52:00] because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.

And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have. Ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share. Shoot me an email Mike muscle for life.com, muscle F or life.com. And let me know what I could do better or just what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.

I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode. And I hope to hear from you.


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