Breathing Retraining Center Offering First Class for People with Snoring and Sleep Apnea in Berkeley

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Breathing retraining has long been acknowledged for relieving asthma, allergies, and other respiratory issues. Although clinical studies have yet to show it reverses snoring and sleep apnea, many people with those conditions have found relief, says Lisa Bowen, director of Breathing Retraining Center LLC in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sufferers want an alternative to CPAP machines and dental appliances, she says.

Man snoring
"If you calm your daytime breathing, your unconscious nighttime breathing will also improve." Lisa Bowen, Buteyko Breathing educator and director, Breathing Retraining Center LLC

Breathing Retraining Center LLC of the San Francisco Bay Area is offering its first class dedicated to instructing people with snoring and sleep apnea how to control and reduce symptoms by adjusting their breathing patterns.

The class takes place a couple hours a day from October 18-22 in Berkeley, CA.

The center teaches the Buteyko Breathing Retraining Technique which is known for its success with asthma.

“We’ve had to modify a lot of the examples we present to be relevant to people with snoring and sleep apnea," said Lisa Bowen, a Buteyko educator and director of the center based in Fairfax, CA.

Global clinical trials have proven breathing retraining's efficacy in controlling and reducing asthma symptoms, Bowen said. Buteyko educators are lobbying for funding to get proof that it helps sleep issues too. In the meantime, about 50% of students in Buteyko classes are now coming to relieve snoring and sleep apnea. They are looking for alternatives to the cost and frequent discomfort of CPAP machines and dental appliances, she said.

Buteyko Breathing addresses the cause of respiratory issues, which Dr. Konstantin Buteyko in the 1950s determined was over-breathing. While still an intern in the Soviet Union, Buteyko made the connection between breathing more air than is required for an activity – technically known as hyperventilation, even if it’s subtle – and ill health.

“If you calm your daytime breathing” by learning techniques to reset your respiratory center so you stop hyperventilating “ your unconscious nighttime breathing will also improve,” she added.

A survey of Buteyko educators in Australia released this year was conducted on behalf of the Buteyko Institute of Breathing and Health there, covering the experience of 11,000 clients with sleep apnea who had been taught the eight-hour breathing-retraining course. It found:

-Approximately 80 percent of clients had been able to cease use of the CPAP machine or oral appliances.
-Over 95 percent of clients had improved sleep.
-Symptoms such as snoring, headaches, restless legs, low concentration levels and decreased energy levels also improved in the majority of clients.

The survey was based on anecdotal evidence collected in 2010.

Bowen explained the Buteyko theory of how snoring and sleep apnea come about.

“You don’t need much air at rest,” she said. Snoring is the sound a person makes when they try to breathe too much air through a narrowed airway while they’re sleeping.The excessive breathing causes the soft tissues behind the mouth and in the nose and throat to vibrate.

Obstructive sleep apnea is one step more extreme, Bowen said. The airway collapses because of a combination of over-breathing cold dry air and the resulting inflammation and air-pressure change. Then the loss of carbon-dioxide due to over-breathing leads the brain to send a message to stop breathing until the blood chemistry rebalances, Bowen said.

Robert Litman, a senior Buteyko educator, is coming from Arizona to teach the class.

In the United Kingdom, the British Medical Thoracic Society has approved Buteyko Breathing as a treatment option for doctors to recommend for asthmatics.

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