Sighing a Lot is a Sign of Chronic Hyperventilation | Nutrition Fit

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Yawning or sighing a lot might be a sign of tiredness or frustration, but it is also a sign of chronic hyperventilation. Chronic hyperventilation is often labelled “hidden hyperventilation” — sufferers do not actually look like they are hyperventilating.

One of the most common signs of Hyperventilation Syndrome is frequent sighing and yawning. Someone who is hyperventilating on a day to day basis is breathing more than their body needs to meet its metabolic demands. Why this happens to some people and not others is not really known, but it is thought to affect 6-10% of the general population. That is a lot of people breathing more than they need to and it is not without consequences.

With chronic overbreathers something has triggered an altered breathing pattern. The precipitating factor is often a stressful life event or a high-stress existence in general. The brain gets used to an increased breathing volume and it works hard to maintain this higher volume. Sneaking in extra breaths in the form of frequent sighs and yawns is one way the brain keeps chronic hyperventilators hyperventilating. This results in lowered levels of carbon dioxide in the blood because too much is being breathed out. One clinical study showed that a single sigh can reduce blood carbon dioxide levels by 1-3 mmHg. One sigh!

With this reduction in carbon dioxide comes a reduction in blood flow to the brain. Carbon dioxide is a smooth muscle relaxant, so less of it has the opposite effect — the smooth muscles that line the blood vessels and airways constrict. Several studies have shown that reduced blood carbon dioxide results in reduced cerebral blood flow due to constriction of the cerebral arteries. If you experience; brain ‘fog’; dizziness; lightheadedness; anxiety and confusion; think about how much you might be sighing.

One of the most important things to do in reversing chronic hyperventilation is learning to smother sighs. It only takes one sigh every seven minutes to maintain chronic hyperventilation. Many of us are sighing a lot more than that. The trick is learning to anticipate the sighs and yawns and to swallow them instead – keep your mouth closed and swallow them down. This is not easy because they sneak up on you. It is often only after the fact that you realize you had a sigh coming on! However, once you start seriously applying your mind to not sighing you will start to become aware of it and will be able to anticipate and catch the sighs and yawns before they happen. Literally instruct your brain to warn you when you are going to sigh or yawn. It will catch on after a few weeks and when the constant sighing and yawning goes, so should the brain fog, dizziness and general irritability.

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Source by Brenda Stimpson