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How the ‘lost art’ of breathing can impact sleep and resilience

Humans typically take about 25,000 breaths per day — often without a second thought. But the COVID-19 pandemic has put a new spotlight on respiratory illnesses and the breaths we so often take for granted. Journalist James Nestor became interested in the respiratory system years ago after his doctor recommended he take a breathing class to help his recurring pneumonia and bronchitis. While researching the science and culture of breathing for his new book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, Nestor participated in a study in which his nose was completely plugged for 10 days, forcing him to breathe solely through his mouth. It was not a pleasant experience. “I went from snoring a couple minutes a night to, within three days, I was snoring four hours a night,” he says of the forced mouth-breathing. “I developed sleep apnea. My stress levels were off the charts. My nervous system was a mess. … I felt awful.” Nestor says the researchers he’s talked to recommend taking time to…