Our member Anders Olsson spent 10 days with a blocked nose at Stanford University this summer. An unusual occurrence in relation to what he normally does – sleeps with tape over his mouth. Anders has also run a half marathon with tape over his mouth and believes that breathing holds the key to a healthier life.
Hi Anders! Let’s get right to it. We’ve heard that you sleep with duct tape over your mouth. Why?
Ha-ha, not duct tape! But I do use Sleep Tape, a product I’ve developed myself. I’ve been sleeping with tape over my mouth for almost nine years, for a simple reason! I do it to make sure my mouth is shut, so I only breathe through my nose.
Why is it bad to breathe through your mouth when you’re sleeping?
Mouth breathing while resting automatically means a low grade of hyperventilation, which creates an unbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body. This imbalance derives us of vital oxygen. Mouth breathing causes more anxious and shallower sleep. Lots of studies have shown how important deep sleep is for the brain, it helps you sort and organize what you’ve experienced during the day, as well as clear out byproducts.
We understand that you were in the middle of a hunt for money, gadgets and success when you stumbled over what has now become your passion, breathing. What did you do before that, and how did you start working on what would later become your life, and that made you quit the chase for material possessions?
I had my own IT-company and had felt an emptiness within me for a long time, something was missing. Then I realized that there had to be more to life than just hunting money, gadgets and success. I was inspired by a book about how you could get rid of asthma through working on your breathing, after that I was hooked. I sold my company and started working with health!
You describe yourself as a passionate breathing nerd that teaches people how to breathe. Tell me what you do?
I see clients at my clinic, hold courses and lectures where I talk about the seven good breathing habits of conscious breathing. I share what happens in the body physiologically, which creates an understanding of what worsened breathing habits lead to, as well as motivation to improve the roughly 1000 breaths we take every hour. I’ve also trained about 800 breathing instructors.
In 2010 you had your first lecture about conscious breathing, where only one person showed up. How many participants do you have in your lectures today?
Ha-ha, yes, it wasn’t a success, at first. But I managed to double it to two participants for the following lecture! A lot happened since then, and Conscious Breathing is more in demand today. The last time I spoke at Helio, we had a full house with 255 participants. Recently, I was a guest speaker at the Arizona State University with over 70 000 students and with 225 in the crowd, and soon I’ll be speaking in front of roughly 500 people at a dentist conference.
On the 14thof November you’re also speaking at our Learn@Lunch! What can we expect?
Hopefully, those who show will be curious, inspired and motivated to take care of their body and mind a bit more, by starting with the simple every day breathing tips I’ll be sharing.
You claim that you can change your life through breathing, how?
We all know that our breathing is extremely important and if we stop breathing, we die. We basically live from one breath to the next, and that’s the foundation of our existence. Our demand for oxygen is the reason why breathing is so important to us. Bad breathing patterns steal vital oxygen, it’s not very strange that over time, it has a negative impact on our health. It’s also not so strange that improved our breathing is one of the most powerful tools we have to improve our health. Not only physically with pain, asthma, heart problems, sleep or tiredness, but also mentally in the form of stress, concentration, grief, fear or anger.
Do you have tape over your mouth at work?
No, no tape at work! However, I do use Relaxatorn, a breathing trainer that I’ve developed. It helps me to keep my concentration and focus, and cope better with stress, for example with tight deadlines and so on.
How do you feel about sitting in a coworking place?
I love it. The best thing about Helio is the nice people, both employees and the different companies. The big lounges and the nice conference rooms nearby are also a big plus! I work out more now when we have a great gym and a sports center where we play floorball.
Is there any special exercise you can recommend to our members so they can work with more focus?
The breathing anchor where you close your mouth, straighten your back, close your eyes, put one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest, and exhale completely three times is a very effective way of slowing down and finding your place here and now.
Thank you, Anders! We’re very much looking forward to your lecture and hope that you bring a roll of tape or two!