Oxygen And Hypoxia: What You Need To Know – Part 1

By Trevor Chetcuti on 22 Aug 2014
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While there are many vitamins, minerals and other cofactors essential for life, none of them are as important to us as oxygen.

In fact, oxygen is as vital as water for most life forms on earth. It enlivens our muscles, nerves and every other tissue in our body.

Getting oxygen to our tissues is actually a very complicated process. Air passes through small passages before it eventually diffuses over various membranes. When a decrease in oxygen occurs, this is known as hypoxia.

What Causes Hypoxia?

Hypoxia can be caused by many different problems: airway obstruction, poor red blood cell formation, infection, inflammation and low haemoglobin levels.

It is particularly important that you be aware of hypoxia in children. Most kids with hypoxia develop it due to an inability to get an adequate amount of air into their lungs.

“There are potentially severe problems associated with those who fail to breathe properly overnight.”

When we breathe throughout the night, oxygen saturates haemoglobin in our blood stream and allows our brains to be enriched with vital oxygen for growth.

When our oxygen levels fall, the reaction is often an elevation in our stress hormones. These hormones should be kept extremely low overnight.

Hypoxia In Kids: Why You Should Be Vigilant

As these hormones rise, kids get restless and start tossing and turning throughout the night. Eventually, it can impact their breathing further, causing them to wake up.

In addition, research is starting to show that these kids are often mouth breathers. This mouth breathing alters the production of a substance known as nitric oxide, leading to nightmares and night terrors.

“Most kids with hypoxia develop it due to an inability to get an adequate amount of air into their lungs.”

Even though modern research on the topic is still quite young, George Catlin wrote a text back in 1870 in which he focused on the point that kids and adults who mouth breathe will have tormented dreams, and when they wake up, they are close to death.

Whilst death might be a bit of an extreme view, there is no doubt that there are potentially severe problems associated with those who fail to breathe properly overnight.

Things To Look Out For That Might Suggest You Are Suffering From Hypoxia Overnight:

Low Morning Oxygen Saturation Levels

Low morning oxygen levels can be a sign of failing to breathe adequately overnight. A pulse oximeter is a small device you can place on your finger that will quickly give you your oxygen saturation level.

While 100 per cent is actually perfect, anything below 96 per cent should be of concern. These can be purchased online quite cheaply.

Morning Fatigue

Waking tired can be due to a number of things. Low thyroid function and adrenal fatigue are high on this list, but hypoixia is one of the most common causes of morning fatigue.

Teeth Grinding

For many years some dentists and health practitioners have discussed links between stress and teeth grinding.

Recent research has found a great correlation between breathing and teeth grinding. If you look at your teeth end on and see that you have lost the points, this is a good sign you’re failing to adequately breathe overnight.

Restless Sleep

People with poor oxygen levels overnight tend to toss around constantly as they struggle for air. If the blankets are a mess every morning, you’ve probably been moving around all night.


Snoring always needs to be investigated. People who snore are struggling to breathe overnight. Whilst the noise is irritating to those around the snorer, this inability to breathe often creates fatigue, stress, frustration and irrationality.

Maintenance Insomnia

There are many reasons you might wake up throughout the night. An elevation of stress hormones is one of them.

What Can You Do?

1. Never Ignore Hypoxia

It can have significant detrimental effects to both developing children and adults. If you suspect you have overnight hypoxia or sleep apnoea, it needs to be investigated by someone trained in this field.

2. Speak To Your Dentist

Many kids with airway issues have dental issues. Often they have problems in oral development due to changes in breathing patterns. These people often need specific work to restore normal oral development.

3. Have Your Immune System Checked

Immunity issues often lead to inflammation and congestion, preventing normal nose breathing overnight. Food intolerances, parasitic infections and viruses can all impact our ability to breathe.

4. Sort Out Your Diet

High blood insulin levels prevent the body from correctly regulating inflammation. Stick to good quality low GI foods in order to keep your insulin levels down.

5. Keep The Heater To A Minimum

Cool air encourages us to nose breathe, to keep the humidity and temperature at a good level before entering our lungs. Keeping the thermostat below 20 overnight can help a lot of people keep their mouths closed.

About the Author

Dr Trevor has a passion for helping people that goes beyond what most people expect. He has a knack for getting to issues quickly and an amazing knowledge for all things health and wellbeing. With extensive study in areas such as Physiology, Nutrition, Supplementation, Applied Kinesiology, Neuro Emotional Technique and Chiropractic, Dr Trevor's skills at working with a wide range of health and performance issues have become widely respected.

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