- Updated on August 3, 2019
By Dr. Artour Rakhimov, Alternative Health Educator and Author
In this video, Dr. Artour Rakhimov and Volker Schmitz discuss how to treat sleep apnea with breathing retraining and what causes are.
Overview of Sleep Apnea
Hundreds of people with sleep apnea have recovered from the disease and no longer use their CPAP machines thanks to breathing retraining, especially the Buteyko breathing technique. Many of Dr. Artour’s students suffered from sleep apnea and used their CPAP machines for years but managed to achieve complete clinical remission using his recommended method.
If you suffer from sleep apnea (the most common kind and that which is treated in this article is known as “obstructive sleep apnea”), you are not alone: As of 2014, at least 25 million adults were estimated to have the disease.
Sleep apnea is a widespread disorder that lessens one’s quality of sleep during the night, leading to increased daytime fatigue. It is a chronic disease, meaning that it is ongoing: It requires long-term management and is most often treated with mouthpieces, breathing devices, or even surgery. The disorder is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses can last a few seconds to a few minutes and may occur up to 30 times in a single hour. When breathing resumes it is usually accompanied by a loud snorting or choking noise; a family member or partner is most likely to notice the disease first.
Risks and Complications of Sleep Apnea
Aside from the obvious disorientation and daytime fatigue that arise from interrupted sleep, obstructive sleep apnea also increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and depression. This is not to mention that, if left untreated, sleep apnea can greatly increase risk of death from mechanical accidents, especially motor vehicle accidents on the road.
Cure Sleep Apnea With Breathing Retraining
This all leads to the question: How can breathing exercises and the Buteyko method help treat the condition?
Dr. Artour Rakhimov’s students have observed that, when they normalize their breathing patterns, they are able to achieve deep and restorative sleep. This is because those with sleep apnea hyperventilate during sleep — their breathing becomes heavier, faster and deeper. The pauses in breathing are caused by a loss of carbon dioxide. This sleep interruption puts a person into a state of stress or shock but does not wake them up. Most insidiously, it prevents someone from entering into the deep stages of sleep.
The CPAP machine mitigates the effects of the disease by allowing people to breathe naturally, jumping into action when people stop breathing. The CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine works by applying mild air pressure to keep breathing airways open. The CPAP machine typically also gives a score of the quality of breathing during sleep for later reference. But this is an external solution. It is a machine that takes away breathing from the brain’s control.
When Dr. Artour Rakhimov’s students successfully slowed down their breathing patterns and when they breathed about 6 L per minute or 12 breaths per minute sitting at rest, they did not require the CPAP machine any longer. Though the CPAP machine provides an improvement to sleep cycles, it is not an effective long-term solution. For this, we turn to breathing retraining which includes the Buteyko technique. All students that use the Normal Breathing method to improve their body-oxygen levels close to the medical norm (i.e. with about 35 to 40 seconds for their morning control pause/CP levels) no longer use the CPAP machine and even see a drop in their required sleep, typically to 6 hours a night.
Note: Breathing retraining requires various lifestyle changes and it is not simply about practicing breathing exercises. Preventing mouth breathing is one of the most important factors to reverse sleep apnea. Thus taping and chin straps serve as useful tools to prevent a drop in oxygen levels overnight. (There are additional YouTube videos specifically on this subject on Dr. Artour Rakhimov’s main YouTube channel.)
If you or a loved one suffer from sleep apnea, it is recommended that you contact a breathing practitioner, especially if the case is severe.