The unusual title was an obvious ploy. You caught me. But, hopefully, I have caught your attention.

You might have never noticed before but you are most likely breathing through one nostril significantly more heavily than the other or you’ll at least find it harder to breathe through one than the other. (I can guarantee that you checked). Which side was it? Left, or right? Well, it can make a difference to how you work, depending on what side.

Let me explain the science and then I will jump into why I am even telling you this. This is due to a process called the nasal cycle. In around 80 – 85% of people, your nose naturally alternates between breathing out of each nostril, this switches roughly every 90 minutes or so, but it does vary from person to person. Scientists haven’t managed to establish the exact reasoning behind this yet, although there are a multitude of theories floating around, but what I feel is the most fascinating part is the effect it has on your brain.

left_verse_right_brainStudies have shown that the side of your nose through which you breathe affects the hemisphere of the brain which becomes more dominant. It works inversely, so if you are breathing predominantly through your left nostril then this makes your right hemisphere more dominant and vice versa. The left hemisphere of your brain is the analytical and logical reasoning side of your brain, it helps when working on any mathematical or scientific equations. Ideal if you’re a quant or a trader. The right hemisphere is more focused upon creativity and this improves our abilities to create masterpieces of both art and music.

Chris_Froome_wearing_TurbineSome people, especially athletes, have been known to block one side of their nose to aid breathing through a certain nostril to increase their performance by becoming more focused. So, if you’re an artist, maybe you could consider blocking the right nostril and increase your creativity and imagination. Although I maybe wouldn’t recommend this if you’re a trader sat on a busy trading floor, you might get some funny looks and a torrent of jokes at your expense! I guess it comes down to how badly you’d like to improve your analytical skills.

Read Toby’s other blog posts here and here and find out more about him here.

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Toby Swann, Associate – IT and Software Engineering