In this episode, I am going to dive deep into snoring and the most common reason that first responders snore.
Now gaining weight, being overweight can definitely aggravate snoring can exacerbate it but that is not what we’re going to be talking about today. There actually is another cause that is more prominent, is a larger reason as to why more first responders snore.
So, if you are overweight and you are a first responder, definitely don’t count yourself out because as much as the weight gain may be attributing to the snoring this other reason that we’re going to be diving in today definitely is playing a part in your snoring as well. So join us while I teach you why you are most likely snoring and what options are out there to really tackle it once and for all.
Now, before I dive into this, I just thought that I would tell you a little bit of a story of when I started this in 2018. I had no idea how rampid snoring ran between all first responders and because fire is 24 hour shifts and you guys are around one another EMS as well, you get to hear one another when you’re sleeping. And anytime that I ask fire how quiet their station is when they are able to sleep all at the same time, there’s usually some laughs going on because it’s not quiet. There are so many of them that are snoring and even when they are in absolutely separate rooms, with a seemingly thick walls they can still hear certain members of their crew. And many of them as well have sleep apnea machines that they bring back and forth with them to the station and back home because they have gone past that window to where their sleep is even more interrupted.
So this is such a big deal which is why I brought this into our episode number three is because how rampid snoring does occur in the first responder world. So with first responders, most of them that I speak with when they’re trying to stop their snoring, they’re really focusing on the snoring itself. They’re trying to use nose strips to open up their passageway, prescriptions to try to get themselves into a deeper sleep. They’re rolling over trying to change positions when they’re waking themselves up snoring, or if they’re elbowed in their sleep by their partner. And they’re rolling over which the rolling over may stop the snoring but it still comes back when you change positions and go back to what is most likely your favored sleeping position. And it can go to the next level as well, where you start sleeping in another room from you’re a partner and you’re sleeping either on the couch or another room and neither of you is still getting great sleep, let alone it not being great for your relationship.
And when you’re focusing on snoring itself as the key cause of snoring and you’re missing the actual reason why snoring is occurring. And what happens is you’re continuing using these things and the snoring, the frequency, the loudness, the sound starts increasing over time. And then when you snore, you may find that you may not even know that you snore, but you may be waking up with a dry mouth. The dry mouth is what wakes you up because it’s so uncomfortable. You are waking exhausted without recharging your battery. You’re almost feeling hungover, disoriented when you’re waking up, and you might be getting more distant from your partner because neither of you is getting great sleeps or you’re sleeping in separate locations all of the time.
And when you go into your shift, you’re going into it exhausted and with a shorter fuse. Now there are four major what do I call them? Lessons, steps, tools let’s call them your tools. There’s four major tools that we do focus on teaching you in my 911 Elite Performance Program in order to get rid of snoring completely. But today I am going to give you the most effective one right now because I don’t want to overwhelm you. And in fact, this is the foundational lesson in my entire 911 Elite Performance Program. It’s what everything builds on and it’s one that you can start today, whether you’re on shift, it’s simple, it’s portable. You can do it while you’re listening to this podcast. It’s not going to take any extra time out of your day and it’s frigging effective. It is one where I have helped guys who just are scrambling out and need help right away and I’ll give them this one and they can’t believe the benefits from it.
So let’s get started. The first step, we are going to be diving into your nervous system so that you can really see why these over-the-counter remedies are not the right place to start. And the biggest mistake is really not understanding how your nervous system plays a role in storing. So today, we are going to be diving into this step
here is specifically teaching you about your nervous systems’ role and then we’ll continue on into the next steps. So without understanding this, so without understanding how your nervous system works, snoring is just going to continue. It doesn’t matter the sleep aids that you’re using, the snoring will continue. And it’s just going to keep getting worse and worse to the point where you may end up meeting a sleep apnea machine. So, the nervous system.
Now, the part of your nervous system we’re going to be speaking about is your stress and your relaxed, your resting nervous systems. So your stress is your sympathetic nervous system and your relaxed resting system is your vagus nervous system.
And they both play really key important roles. The stressed nervous system kicks in when you are in a stress state, it is what keeps you safe on the job. It keeps you hypervigilant, on high alert, you get that tunnel vision. So you see exactly what you need to see at that moment in time. And it’s absolutely phenomenal as to what it does for you on the job.
And your resting system is your system that allows you to digest. They call it your rest and digest system, your vagus nerve. And so, when we’re really diving into these two nervous systems, the big thing to understand is your nervous system is like a muscle. So the more that you work at the stronger it gets, the quicker it is to react. And being that it is and with how much your stress system kicks in when you guys are on the job, how strong do you think your stress system is?
Is it possible that your stress system is much stronger than your resting system? It’s very much like that gym. So, how much have you been working that stress system and how much have you been working that resting system?
So have you ever considered what would happen if you were in control of when you switched into your stress nervous system, your sympathetic nervous system, to keep you hypervigilant, high alert, safe on calls when you needed and as soon as the call was cleared, when you’re doing your reports or when you’re home relaxing with your family that you switched into your resting system?
If you could actually control that if you ever thought about being able to control that cause that’s really what we’re going to be diving into today. And there’s definitely stressors of your job that you can’t control. You don’t know what’s going to happen on each call and if we focused on controlling your resting stress system so that it didn’t overpower your stress nerve and you could start gaining control of when you switched in and out of one another, what would your shift be like?
What would change on your shift? What would change for you? Not only when it comes to snoring, which we’ll dive into and you’ll get this link in a second, but what else would change in your life if you were able to control that stress, if your stress nervous system, your sympathetic nervous system was not overpowering your resting nervous system, how much less time would you spend in a stressed, hypervigilant or anxiety state if you had control over that switch to turn your system on and off? And how much more would you be able to relax and enjoy your downtime? If you know, you weren’t yelling at your kids or you weren’t getting short with your spouse for the small things, or you’re able to actually go to the park with your kids and relax and enjoy the moment with them instead of continually observing your surroundings.
So, really understanding that how important both your stress nervous system and your resting nervous system is, is foundational to you understanding snoring and where snoring is coming from. Which leads us to that question. What the heck does the nervous system have to do with snoring? So in step number two, that is what we’re going to dive into.
And the mistakes that first responders often make is never considering that snoring, maybe a signal from your body telling you that your stress system is, turned on. That you’re in high alert. And when you don’t realize that snoring is a symptom to a bigger issue and you don’t search for answers beyond the snoring sleep aids. Beyond the nose plugs and the mouth guards and anything else for for snoring. You end up waking more tired, you start waking more frustrated and angry and this all increases on a daily basis. Your memory will start decreasing while brain fog increases, your health issues start creeping in because your snoring is continuing to get worse, and it’s almost like your body is sending you the signal more and more that, “Hey, I need attention.” “Hey, your stress system is like super strong.” “Hey, come on over here. We need to really dive into this.” It’s really, really important to understand that the longer you go without listening to what the snoring is telling you, the more symptoms are actually going to be popping up. So let’s get into the part of your nervous system that does affect snoring.
So when your stress system is kicked in, it actually has there’s a soft spot under your ear. You’ll be able to, if you just kind of go behind an under your ear here, you’ll be able to feel this soft spot where there’s not bone. There’s a nerve that actually comes out there and it goes towards your tongue and it goes into your throat. Now this nerve is actually connected with your vagus nerve, your resting. It’s connected with your vagus nerve. Your vagus nerve actually turns that on to be hard, your stress system, turns it off and relaxes it. And the reason that it relaxes it is because it actually relaxes your tongue and relaxes your throat. Which when you were in a fight or flight state, when you are in a foot pursuit, when you are in like fighting for your life and you’re running and you need to get that oxygen in, you breathe through your mouth and it opens up that throat opens up the you’re tongue your airway relaxes, so you can actually get more oxygen and you can get more air in.
It is a protective mechanism for you when you are in fight or flight when you are in that stress state. So when you’re sleeping, if you’re in your stress state, you’re actually start snoring more because this nerve starts relaxing your tongue, relaxing your throat and that’s why when you’re in certain positions, especially laying on your back, your tongue then starts relaxing back, closing off your airway a bit and causing some snoring. When you roll onto your side, that’s why it’ll stop. So it’s really important to understand that when you are snoring, that that is quite often for most of you, it’s your stress nerve that is kicking in and relaxing your tongue and your throat.
And with my husband, that’s how I always know when his stress system is becoming more and more taxed. He starts snoring. When he did the 37 day straight, it was about day 21, 25 in around there. He started snoring and it’s fascinating too, because it’s not even on like a long operation. There are parts with his day job that he does have in emergency management that can get quite stressful. Even though he’s working regular hours, that is more the mental taxing stress. But when he’s really stressed, just from the normal day to day of the work not long hours not special operations, anything like that. I will notice too that his snoring starts kicking in. If you’re snoring aids, your mouth guards, your nose clips, mouth glue is another thing that I’ve actually tried once and I will never try again. If that actually stopped snoring, then why do you need to rely on them for life? Are they really getting rid of the snoring? Are they really fixing the root cause?
It’s kind of like giving your kids a tablet or your phone when they’re annoying you so that they will go away. But as soon as you take back, the tablet, your device, your phone. The kids continue to pester you to get what they want. So the problem doesn’t really go away. It’s just isn’t a problem for a moment in time. And you know with kids that the next time that they put a bigger fuss up because they know that you will give in and you will give them the screen time, which they want. If the fuss is loud enough. So this is just like snoring aids, the mouth guards, the nose clips, the tapes, the glue. Do they really fix the problem or do they make it go away for a moment in time and then increase their intensity over time? It’s interesting if you think about it that way so with the sleep aids are they’re really, really hitting the root of the problem?
So, let’s move on to step number three, where we’re going to figure out which system your stress or your resting system is kicking in for you right now. I’m going to teach you how to actually know which system is kicked in. Sometimes you’re going to know because you are hypervigilant, you are feeling the anxiety, you’re on edge, you can’t shut it off that’s definitely your stress system. But there’s other times where you may not even be sure or while you’re sleeping and being able to figure that out is going to make such a difference for you to know, “Oh, I’m in my stress state right now.” And I need to definitely pull up the tool that I’m going to teach you today and switch right back into your resting system. And when you don’t know how to do this simple test and figure out which nervous system you’re in, then you’re not going to be able to control that switch from your stress into your resting nervous system.
And when you can’t control that switch from your stress to your resting system, then you’re not able to get out of that hypervigilant state. You’re not able to shut it off. You’re not able to relax with your family. You’re not able to focus on your reports. Remember details of what happened on your call. You’re not able to do any of those things when you can’t switch into your resting system. So, it just ends up keeping you hypervigilant, keeping you on edge and causing you to quite possibly yell at your kids and definitely leads to more and more snoring.
What we’re going to talk about today is mouth breathing versus nose breathing. As we said before, there are different things that your stress system and your resting system are in charge of in your body. Your resting system is in charge of nose breathing. And we already talked about that mouth breathing is part of your stress state for that fight or flight where the tongue relaxes, throat opens up so you can get more air in. That’s all mouth breathing. Mouth is stressed state, nose is resting.
Where are you right now? As you’re listening to this, are you breathing through your mouth or are you breathing through your nose? If you’re breathing through your mouth, you’re in your stress state? That’s often why as well, if you’re waking up with a dry mouth in the morning or in the middle of the night, you’re breathing through your mouth.
You may not even be snoring. You may be the breathing through the mouth starts before the snoring and then the storing after you end up getting into sleep apnea a lot of sleep struggles. So when you’re breathing through your mouth, your mouth is getting dry more frequently because of the way that the oxygen is going in and out and really dries out your mouth.
So, interesting as well is to start taking notes of your colleagues’ breathing and take a look around when you’re doing when you’re just on a shift when you’re in parade and see who’s breathing through their mouth and through their nose. And then take note of that person’s the way that they present themselves, are they the one that’s calm or the one that’s has a short fuse? Are they the one that is really good at remembering details for the reports, which may or may not be breathing? Some people are just better at remembering things than others as well, but have their report stayed consistent or have you noticed with somebody that their reports are declining?
Take note are they breathing through the mouth? This is a great thing. I do this with my kids. I will see where they’re breathing out of is that their nose in their mouth. And you can tell, cause when they’re starting to get amped up, I’m like we just breathe through our noses and they instantly calmed down. So it’s really fascinating when you start taking note of yourself as well as those around you as to the temperaments of everybody who’s breathing through mouth, who’s breathing through nose.
Which leads me to a question of is working your stress system to be as strong as possible, preparing you to keep yourself safe on the job? Or have you ever considered what happens if you spend too much time in your stress system and it overpowers your resting system? I’m going to ask that again. Do you need to train your stress system, be as strong as possible? Or have you ever considered that there might be a threshold of training it too much where it’s overpowering your resting system? And how specifically does having a strong stress system that overpowers your resting system help you relax and stay calm on your days off and enjoy your family? If you are breathing through your mouth, if you are constantly in that stressed state. And your stress system is so strong that it just keeps kicking in over and over like take note when you can command that switch, how long does it take to you to start breathing through your mouth again. So start taking note of these things cause it’s really, really important and that will tell you how strong your stress system is.
So just a recap, we know that your stress system and your resting system work like muscles, the more you work them, the stronger they get, the quicker they are to react. When your stress system kicks in, your tongue and throat relax, which when you’re laying on your back and sleeping can cause snoring. When you are in your stress nervous system, you breathe through your mouth and when you’re in your resting nervous system, you breathe through your nose.
What we’re going to do right now is the very last step in this is we’re going to teach you how to switch. Start training, that switch. Where your stress system and your nervous system. So you can start taking back control of when you are in a stress state. To keep you alert, safe on calls and when to switch back, as soon as the call is clear. There’s nothing like getting to a call being totally amped up and staying in that stress state for a while even though the call cleared before you got there.
And without being able to control this when you are using your stress or resting nerve, your body will continue to switch into your stress nerve and your sleeping is going to continue to rear its ugly head along with all of the other symptoms that I’ve been talking about. And you may end up living with a life of being consistently elbowed by your partner when you’re trying to sleep or worse, sleeping in another room and still not waking up with energy because your body can not get into a deep restorative sleep where you are sleeping in your resting system. So we’re going to show you this one step today and the reason that I’m only showing you this piece is because it’s such a foundational piece. It’s like a gym exercise.
And when you are in the gym, you need to focus on the first foundational pieces before you can start adding more advanced layers to your workouts, or you will get injured. Your body won’t remember your muscle memory will not be there in order to give you the maximum benefits moving forward. So this is like a gym exercise where the reps count, the more reps that you do, the stronger that your resting system will become. And it’s super easy. I’ve already alluded to it, it’s breathing through your nose.
When you breathe through your nose, you have on the top left side of your nose up kind of above your eyebrow, your sinus actually touches part of your resting near of your vagus nerve. And then you also have all of these nerve fibers of your resting nerve, your vagus nerve, they’re all around your diaphragm. When you breathe in that air, into your belly, they are the most innovation of these nerves. the largest mass of this resting nerve surrounds your diaphragm.
The thing is, is that these nerves are unmyelinated. So they don’t have, it’s like a wire without the rubber coating. Which means they are more susceptible for us to react to them. They’re really quick to react. They’re also very easily damaged. So we find in PTSD that there’s a lot of the nerves that are damaged around the diaphragm.
So making sure that we can keep these nerves strong best helps you as well during traumas. So making sure though that you are working these nerve fibers, you’re breathing in through your nose. So you breathe in through your nose and you feel your belly pause and breathe out through your nose and pause.
All of it’s slow. It’s at a pace that works for. Now you may have done some of this in your tactical training. I know fire does a lot of this where you’re learning how to breathe a box breathing in when you have your masks. The corrections officer that I worked with, he was former fire as well as corrections and he had to put his gas mask on and he was like, the breathing is what helped him cause they were in the middle of there was a fight going on and they needed their gas masks and he was fighting at the same time. He said he probably would have hyperventilated, had he not understood how to do this breathing and his body just instantly kicked into do it to keep him calm with his gas mask on.
I know too, in police tactical training, there’s a lot of talk about box breathing in a lot of the combatives and firearms, it’s talked a lot about in tactical. I mean, Jocko Willink talks about this as well. He talks so much about taking that breath and Lieutenant Dave Grossman, does as well. I was actually listening to a Jocko podcast the other day, and he was talking as well, but one of his big trainings is where when you’re looking through the scope as well, you get into your stress nervous system because you’re getting into that tunnel vision. And he says to stop, take a step back, breathe and observe your surroundings. Breath is so important to get you into that resting state. You guys hear this all the time in your tactical purposes.
And so, if you’re thinking of breathing slowly though through your nose is only for tactical purposes, then I’m going to ask if this is because you’ve only learned box breathing or slow breathing in tactical training classes when you are aware that you are in a stressed state and no one has really taught you or implemented to put it into other parts of your life?
When you don’t realize you’re actually in that stress state. So you can train your stress system any time, the more that you train it or your resting system, you can keep training it. You’re you’re on the job all the time. You’re in a stress state. Anytime you’re working out, anytime you’re in tactical training, anytime you’re on a call, admin stressors, long shifts not being able to eat all of these things, put you into a stress state.
The more reps that you can do putting yourself into that resting state, the more that you train it the faster that you will gain control of being able to switch in and out of that stress and resting state without really thinking about it. So it really becomes automatic even in your sleep. Have you ever considered what would happen if you were not able to switch into your resting system because your stress system rolled you? It’s really what’s happening to a lot of first responders nowadays, especially after the last three years.
For so many of you, it’s not just the traumas. It’s your shifts. It’s the short staffing, the overtime. Pushing your bodies to be awake for crazy amounts of time. Your stress systems are kicking in more and more. Every call that you go to, I know my husband, he said it doesn’t matter what the call is. He goes as if it’s called the gun. I’m in Canada. So that’s even a big thing that guns aren’t illegal here, but he goes into a call that everyone’s got a gun. In the states for many of you, it’s very possible that somebody else does have a gun. And you never know when that call is going to turn. So you’re always in that stress state. Have you ever wondered if that is why you can’t shut it off on the other times you’re not training that resting system.
So as mentioned before, as well, snoring is one of the first stress symptoms that I did noticed in my husband. And it’s his stress system that’s telling me that it’s overpowering his resting system again. And it’s time for him to pull out all of the tools that he knows support his stress system and strengthen his resting system to further prevent him from sliding further and ending up in burnout.
Does stress is absolutely inevitable in a job? It’s inevitable. It’s going to happen. That’s what your life is. That is the 911 lifestyle and breathing through your nose is the base foundational piece to the strong resting system pillar in my 911 Elite Performance Program. Now, there are two other pillars that I teach you about in episode one. Episode one dives into all three pillars, the strong resting system, 911 shift ready, and post shift recovery. Having those three together is important because if you just work on this one. This one step then anytime that a lot more stressors are piled on you, it’s not going to work. So you may find that when you start this today, you feel some relief and you’re like, oh this is great. This is such a great tool. But like I said, there’s other foundational pieces to be advanced, actually strengthened us more but we also have other pillars that help to support the stress system so that you’re being hit less often and strengthen your resting system.
So you’re resting system. We’re going to review all of the steps that we just talked about. You’re resting and your stress nervous systems are like muscles. The more you work them, the stronger they get and quicker they react. When your stress nervous system kicks in, your tongue and throat relax, when you’re laying on your back, causes snoring. You breathe through your nose when you are switched into your stress nervous system.
So keep a note out for that. And the more you practice breathing through your nose during the day, when in a stress state and when you’re not, when you’re relaxed, the faster you can move to the next step that we teach in our 911 Elite Performance Program.
So your action steps today is to take note of when you’re breathing through your mouth and as soon as you notice, switch to breathing through your nose that’s it. Just start breathing through your nose. If you would like to learn more about our 911 Elite Performance Program, go to our website 911lifestyle.com and click on the Work With Us tab and you’ll get all of the details.