Hello and welcome to the blossom, your awesome podcast episode number 37 Today on the show. My oh functional therapist charisse la gear is here with us and she is an expert in breathing and the airways. Did you know there is a right way and a wrong way to breathe. Well caress has all of the insights for us if you have ever struggled with your sleep, if you have insomnia or sleep apnea we are talking all things breath and everything related to the airways. I am so excited to get into this with charisse charisse. Thank you so much for being here. Welcome to the show. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here. Oh I'm so excited to have you here and learn about this and now tell me Clarice, let's start with a little bit of your background and then leading into how you got into this line of work.
So I am a registered dental hygienist by licensed trade. Um I have worked in the dentistry for quite a while almost 15 years now and in my time working in dentistry I would say I was educated very well educated. I went to an exceptional university. However I was not fully educated because as a mom of four as my career progressed and I like to say that a lot of us as parents that is, we don't really talk about the stuff that's actually going on. We always give the highlight reel if somebody asked however our Children and I have a lot of stuff going on with my kids, be it my son with his A. D. H. D. Or behavioral impulse control issues my daughters and the various issues with sleep, bed, wedding night terrors snoring. I mean you name it, we went through it and I wouldn't talk to anybody about that. But it's surprising that a pediatric dentist that I started working for really brought to my intention the importance of everything that's going on with our face and our muscles and our tongue and how that impacts overall health and wellness.
And so I dived in deep to save my Children And now I am a mile functional therapist practicing in my own private practice out of south florida wow that is amazing carries. Now let me ask you. Um so as you're learning about this and trying to help your kids and you know kind of getting to the bottom of these issues was there some sort of epiphany that happened for you where you said you know what I'm starting the mayo spot. Like I'm starting my own practice and I'm gonna do this. I mean because that's amazing. Yes I would say it was my son that made the greatest impact. Although all of my Children made large leaps and bounds my son because I think that it starts very very early now with the A. D. H. D. Diagnosis or suspicions and I remember him from kindergarten they would tell me that he wasn't really paying attention.
They had a hard time getting him to focus. There's this thing um that if you're sitting by the window you can kind of see like the little dust bunnies or whatever you see them flying in. He would get distracted by that. And so they had to start closing the shades for the windows like trying to get his attention. And that progressed all the way through to fifth grade and I tried ignoring it for as long as I could. And the problem with that in ignoring it is that you know it doesn't go away just because you ignore it. And so we finally got into a neurologist who you know did what seemed to me like such a simple little test like asking us a bunch of questions and then diagnosed him with A. D. H. D. And we we struggled for a while with trying to Medicaid or not Medicaid. We decided to medicate. It didn't make anything better. And so once I fell in and that kind of came right into that period of time for me when he was about fifth or sixth grade where I fell into my own functional therapy and the powers of such within the first six months.
Everything that he had been experiencing The past, I don't know 11 12 years of his life that we had been ignoring or or trying to mitigate in some other type of way. Everything. It was like I met him for the first time and that was powerful for me. Like I had no idea this bright young boy was hiding or being hidden. I should say bye all of his sleep disorders and and his inability to breathe properly and that impact that it had on his body in his life. And I said, well, it can't just be me, it can't just be me, my kids, not the only one who's, you know, locked under a diagnosis that we can't seem to get out of, It has to be something that we can make this impact and develop these minds in a different way besides just doing medications or whatever. We can uncover so much more from these little souls.
So that was the driving force for me when I saw what happened with my son and his ability to turn his grades around to get his behavior together to start making friends to developing who he is as a person. That was my main driver enforce. Mm mm mm mm mm That is so beautiful carries. I love that. Um, wow. So now, you know, for people who don't know, tell us what my oh, functional therapy is. Fantastic. I'm sure there's a lot of those people that don't know my functional therapy, I like to like in it in the simplest way possible to personal training. So it's kind of like having personal training for all the muscles below the eyes, but above the shoulders. So what I do as a multifunctional therapist is I helped to strength and coordinate all of these oral facial muscles because these are really the borders in the front on the sides and the back, the borders of our upper respiratory track. And if we're not careful or taking care of our upper respiratory track, I mean, I don't know what else there is to take care of because breathing is the most important thing possible.
So we're strengthening and coordinating all these muscles so that we can facilitate better breathing, better chewing, better swallowing and the myriad of things that come as a result of that. Mm hmm. And now breath work is a big part of this. Is that correct? Absolutely. Absolutely. So while we're taking care of the respiratory tract and the muscles that surround it, it's very important to be mindful of how the air is coming into the body and the importance of such and so yes, we do do a lot of modifications through breath work and trying to establish nasal breathing because that is the ideal way that we're supposed to intake air. So when we think about our nose, our nose is the only place on our body that is built for air and oxygen intake. That's where we're going to get moisture in the air that we breathe in filtering out of any sort of debris or anything that we don't want in our air, it's filtering it through our nose.
And then that's where we're going to get that exchange where we will get nitric oxide through what we're in taking in our nose. That makes that change. That's going to help it bind to the receptor so that we can adequately uptake this oxygen into our bodies. And so yes, breath work is a big component. We want to establish diaphragmatic breathing. We want to make use of the wonderful space now that we would have in that upper respiratory track as a result. Mm hmm. Okay. I so we're gonna go deeper with this. And you know the reason I am actually I do a lot of breath work. I've been doing it for decades but I've also struggled with sleep. So for me this conversation is very um you know personal but at the same time, I know I was you know really surprised over the years to find that so many people actually struggle with this and sleep apnea, which correlates to this breath and breathing properly that you're talking about, correct.
Absolutely. Absolutely. It's actually become a national epidemic. The CDC I believe has quoted it as such that we have one in three. Now it's estimated to be suffering from some form of sleep deprivation or sleep disorder. And that is an impactful figure one in three. Can you imagine that there's that much Dysfunction in the sleep. That critical component of our life. We spend 1/3 of our life doing it. And one out of every three people is suffering from it. Mm hmm. Yeah. It really is just astounding. I don't know how we're doing it. But here we are now. You know my next question for you chris is I'm going to have links to your website and all of that in any kind of you know resources. But is there anything really something very practical guidance you can kind of give us hair on the proper way to breathe or where we start with this.
So yes. So first I want to kind of go through the just a basic screening. So if you want to know if you are breathing correctly because there is a right and wrong way to breathe right besides just mouth breathing versus nasal breathing, what I would say to do is you sit up nice and tall. You make sure your feet are flat on the floor. You take a deep breath in through your nose. If it's difficult for you to take a deep breath in through your nose, that's okay. You do the best you can. You take a deep breath in through your nose. You exhale back through your nose, inhale again. And as you're inhaling, I want you to take note of where your tongue is and the space that it sits in and rests in in your mouth as you start to exhale with the nose. Now where your tongue rest matters because this tongue, it should be up and pretty much suctioned or connected in full with the palette, that's the roof of the mouth. So the roof of the mouth is if you're gonna look at it anatomically roof of the mouth is the floor of the nose.
And so that connection between appropriate receptors on the top of the tongue and appropriate receptors on the roof of the mouth is going to help to stimulate several things. So one the vagus nerve which is critical and it's super important and regulation of so many things, our autonomic nervous system and we're going to be able to you know, regulate digestion. We will also definitely be stimulating the nasal cavity so that we can uptake the best amount of oxygen possible. It's also going to provide that stability for us, right? So as we are using the upper portion of that maxillary bone there, what we're going to be doing is in taking optimal oxygen. So where your tongue rest matters, having that tongue up against the roof of the mouth. If you find that your tongue is not up there, that's okay because it's not too late. It's never too late to start doing the types of things that we do in mild functional therapy which is exercising all of those muscles of the tongue.
And now a lot of people like to think of the tongue as just one big muscle. In fact, there's a myth that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body. Well, it can't be the strongest muscle because it's composed actually of eight different muscles in pairs. So what we do with bio functional therapies, we work to strengthen and develop all eight of those muscles. Make sure that that tongue can sustain that rest postures so that we can facilitate the best breathing possible. Now, if you find that you have difficulty breathing through your nose, it's really important to establish a nasal hygiene routine. I think that is my best tip that I can give to anyone ever. We brush our teeth, we wash our bodies, we wash our hair. But nobody takes care of their nose and our nose is critical because we can go days without eating. We can go days without drinking. We can probably go a while without any showers or anything like that. But we can't go but few minutes without air. And so we should be cleaning our noses that should be critical to just daily hygiene routines.
So establish that have a nasal saline rinse that you use preferably one with xylitol because it's great, it has great anti inflammatory properties and it's definitely going to help to keep the nasal passage nice and clean and open in addition to that saline. And so you're cleaning it out that way you have more space for you to adequately breathe. And I think that is these are the foundations of knowing whether or not you have a problem and then how you can tackle it. Mm hmm. Now, just the nasal cleansing alone. That's gotta be huge for kind of clearing pathways. Right. I mean, can that just in and of itself help resolve certain issues for some people. To an extent, yes. For some people, it definitely helps them significantly. You'll find that people who use those breathe right strips. They'll find that they will find much more ability to breathe and rest easily because they open their nasal passages.
For others. It's a little bit lower down in the track for the upper respiratory um area where it's the tongue maybe falling back into the airway or those stock tissues around the fair and geo passage right in the back of the throat. I should say instead of being so technical. Right? Fair and jail. Big word. Word of the day. Uh the those muscles will collapse and it will impede on the air. So you wake up feeling like you're gasping or you're trying to, you know, suction or siphon in some air. And that is I think definitely something that needs to be considered as well. But all of the nasal stuff can definitely contribute to an improvement. Mm wow. Okay, so caress you are just like a um like a walking talking encyclopedia here and you are dropping some big words on us. So, I'm gonna have some, you know, again, links to all of your stuff.
I want to talk about your latest book accomplished? Talk to us about that. How did this I mean, so you're doing this work and you're seeing results. And is that where I love the title? Where did that come from? How did This come about accomplished is such a labor of love. Um it is really about just spreading awareness and providing self help because this is something we all struggle with. And for some reason it's the same myths being purported out there that all you have to do is, you know, stop using a blue light or stop eating at a certain period of time. Or you do all these sort of magical tools that you google in how to sleep better and those things pop up and then that will help. But in reality it's a lot of the breathing that is going to make the deepest and the most impactful areas in your sleep and so accomplished. Came out of that if you're looking to be more rested not to have so much fatigue and burnout during the day. If you're really looking to be your most productive self, it starts the day before the night before.
Right. So every tomorrow depends on the night before and so accomplished. It was such a labor of love. It's got in there a wonderful um out view outline of my my program. What I do. What is my functional therapy. Why is breathing so important to sleep? What are the connections between the two between breathing and sleep and how you can buy yourself with a nice self paced program within the book? How you can make those changes in your daily life? Mm hmm. And now can you please give us a few kind of pointers, practical tips on where I know we talked about the breathing, but what else? You know, can somebody do the night before to kind of ensure a great tomorrow? Absolutely. So the best thing I think that I would say is to be consistent and to have a consistent routine. So we talk a lot when we are like talking to new parents or something like that, we talked to them about the importance of routine, babies need routine, toddlers need routine.
Children need routine, but nobody ever, you know, acknowledges the fact that we as adults also need routine. It's incredibly important for you as an autonomous person to develop your own routines. Because how is your circadian rhythm supposed to regulate itself? How are you supposed to get into the habit of having better sleep? If you haven't already established prior to your body being able to follow you in your process? How if you haven't established your own um current routine and schedule. So decide what time you're going to go to bed at night and start to wind down some of the first stages of sleep? Are the body starting to wind down, you get your heart rate to slow, it starts to really take you into what are the beginnings of light sleep, where maybe if if you even close your eyes and you open them back up, you don't even remember that you were sleeping, you've got to wind yourself down to that point. So let's say you want to go to bed at 11 tonight and if you're gonna go to bed at 11, maybe around 9 30 you want to start winding yourself down, do whatever your nightly routine is, you want to get yourself you know ready and engaged to lie down to be in that position to sleep.
Do you have something that you can do to help your mind wind down so that you're not going to bed thinking about what was the last thing at work that you didn't get accomplished, that you have to get done tomorrow. Why? What about reading a book? Um or you know, doing some other activity that's going to keep your mind engaged in a different type of way, but isn't going to overwhelm you or stress you so that you can engage in a wind down process. So it's really important to one have routine, but then to start to relax yourself into your sleep because that's going to help you immensely, the more consistent you can stay with that, the better you will find your sleep will be over time. Mm Oh my God, I love that. So that consistency is really, I feel like a lot of people don't see sleep in that way, right? It's just kind of like, oh, if I sleep I sleep And if I don't I don't, Is that what you find with sleep? Or those who struggle just get stuck in that pattern of worrying about sleep or you know?
Yes, I definitely find that. And what I find even more so is this common myth that we can catch up on sleep. Like if I just don't sleep monday through friday because I'm working and I'm doing whatever. I'll just catch up on saturday and sunday and that's not the way our body works. That's not the way the sleep process is designed, our body has to rest. It has to actually go through this cycle. In fact, I'll lead into this now. Actually, the only time that the brain will cleanse itself is during sleep. So every night that you deprive yourself of sleep, you're actually making it worse for your brain function the next day. And there's been lots of studies on this. Like you won't be able to concentrate as well. You will have difficulty remembering and recalling for task, Your reaction time is going to be slower And so you can't catch up on sleep. It's incredibly important that you maximize your sleep every day.
That way you can have the best, most productive day that you can tomorrow mm hmm now carries. What are some of share with us? Some of the other myths, You know, one or two that you are here to dispel like let's have to go away because there are so many. And I like you just mentioned, I've heard that so much. That's such a common myth, right? Which I didn't necessarily even know it was a myth. Um because I don't do this work right this minute, Okay, you can catch up on your sleep. Absolutely. And I think another most common one is that the amount of time that you're sleeping. So the quantity of hours that you sleep matters when it's actually not the quantity you can very well be in bed and you can be doing. And I'm I've got air quotes of sleeping For 10 hours.
However, if you weren't cycling through all of your sleep stages appropriately, if you never really got to settle into stage three or you didn't get to ram and you never really cycled through all of these stages where the brain is doing that cleansing process, where you are inputting memories, where you are getting a lot of that stuff done. That's really the hard work of sleeping. If you're not cycling through these stages well enough, it doesn't matter that you were in bed, quote unquote sleeping for 789, 10, however many hours if you are cycling through appropriately and you are waking up rested and you are able to focus concentrate, react and so forth the following day. If you only got five hours of sleep for six hours of sleep. That's totally okay. You're doing much better than the person who slept for the supposed or the myth of 7 to 8 hours and did not wake up well rested. They did not get sufficient sleep.
Maybe they were tossing and turning during that. Maybe they were you know, gasping for air during that. So it's not the quantity. It is the quality of the sleep that matters most. So it's incredibly important to pay attention to the quality of the sleep as opposed to how many hours you may have been quote unquote sleeping. Mm hmm wow, okay. That's a good one. And it's so you know, it all makes such perfect sense. But it's like it's just you know, it's interesting to kind of have this exchange. And um it's surprising, you know, so much of it because there are these myths that are really kind of just embedded for us all. We just kind of assume certain things or presume. Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's the hardest part I think, is not being able to know what's true and what's not. And so that's a big part of why I decided to you know, get into writing and to write this book because it's incredibly important to dispel those myths and to get out some practical tips that will actually make a difference.
Mm hmm. Now carries I just I think this is so amazing the work you're doing and I can just hear the passion and like exuberance in your voice. Like you're actually loving what you're doing and you're really making a difference in people's lives. Like in this very visceral way. What is that like for you on a level of like fulfillment? Like how great does that feel? It's amazing. In fact, I don't feel like I work when I'm doing it. So when I'm working with clients and we're seeing these changes or people are telling me their stories and we're getting the outcomes that is very fulfilling for me. It's made what I do more of just my joy instead of you know what pays my bills and while it does serve both purposes, I would say I'm much more value the impact that I am making on the lives of others.
Especially when I get to work with Children. Um Because you see that these are little lives that are going to be the future. Like now we're getting people who will have the same results as my son and now my son is in college and he's doing things that I didn't think when he was in fifth grade that we were ever going to get there. I'm I'm questioning whether he was gonna make it to sixth grade. You know? And so it's it's working with them really is such a fulfillment. And seeing the difference brings me so much immense joy. It's it's wonderful mm. I love that And I think it's it's so beautiful that you're doing this work because it just kind of fuels that passion. Right? Absolutely. Absolutely. It's it's the reason I get up every morning. Mm mm. Mm mm mm mm mm. I love that carries. I really do. So now what else, what are some other kind of important things that you would like to share that we need to um know about this?
I gave you all of my big ones. So that was like really? But something else that you want to make sure that we're kind of clear on here. I think the biggest thing is to definitely be your own advocate. I think traditional healthcare methods do not serve to try to root out the problem. I think it serves to try to bandage the problem. And as a result of that, we get people who are struggling with something and then they get, oh here this is what you're supposed to do. You take this medication or you you know, go see this person or that person for some type of treatment or surgical intervention. But it's incredibly important to advocate for yourself. If you feel like something's off, you can always find a solution. We live in this wonderful information age. And I think that's the greatest part of you know, the power of the internet is that we are able to access information for any number of things.
So, advocate for yourself, you are your own best dr or you know when something's off and if there is something more you can do about it, I think you should always advocate for yourself. I love that. That is such great advice because I know so many of us just kind of depend on that expert guidance, but they don't really know what's going on with us inside and we just kind of leave it at that. Exactly. And that's the most frustrating part for us too. Because when you leave it at that, you're kind of left feeling some sort of emptiness. And I don't think anybody deserves to feel empty. We should all be fulfilled. And it's very important that you try to do whatever it takes to fill up that cup so that you feel whole and I definitely am a big thing. I have a big, big thing for advocation.
Please advocate for yourself. I love that. Now, um, caress, I'm going to have links to all of your stuff for people to be able to get in touch and access your resources and all of that. Now in closing what is your message other than advocating for yourself? Which was amazing and powerful. But what is that one thing you kind of want to leave us with wisdom insight message that you would like. That one message you want to get out to everyone, how you breathe matters. It is the most important thing that will have the greatest impact on your health and wellness and we really cannot get to any other achievements or goals that we have with our health or wellness journeys individually. If we are not focused on how we breathe. So take note on how you breathe. If you hear yourself breathe, please know that any sort of sound of hearing yourself breathing is the sound of air meeting resistance as it's going through your upper respiratory tract.
And that is not something you want to be mindful of where your tongue sits because your tongue is at the helm of being able to captain your breathing. And so if your tongue is not up against the roof of your mouth, be mindful of that. Be mindful if you spend a good portion of your day mouth breathing because your mouth is not designed for optimal intake of oxygen. Be mindful of that how you breathe matters most. And if you find something is wrong. Somewhere along that chain there. Or something that I said today resonated with you, reach out be your own advocate and make sure that you are addressing our most critical function breathing. Mm I love that caress. You have been so insightful and have shared such uh just so many amazing powerful insights. And I just cannot thank you enough. Thank you so much. It's so much fun and such a pleasure to be here. Oh, you were awesome carries.
Thank you so much. It was so great having you. Mm hmm. Mm hmm mm hmm. Yeah. It didn't