4 Types of Respiratory Patterns: Graphs, Rates, Body Oxygen Levels

Now we know all details related to all types of regular breathing patterns at rest, including the ideal breathing pattern (present in very rare people with super health) normal breathing pattern (present in healthy people),ineffective breathing pattern (present in moderately sick people with chronic diseases), heavy breathing pattern (for the severely and critically sick). It is logical to suggest that the ideal respiratory pattern will correspond to very slow respiration with very high CP (body oxygen level) and low minute ventilation.
Here is a list of all four types of regular automatic (or unconscious) respiratory patterns in one diagram.
4 Types of respiratory patterns
 Types of respiratory patterns, their minute ventilation, respiratory frequency, and DIY index of body oxygenation (Control Pause).

Find your type of respiratory pattern

It is easy to observe that more breathing (larger tidal volume and higher respiratory frequency) leads to reduced body oxygen level (CP or control pause - stress-free breath holding time after usual exhalation) due to hypocapnia and other effects (e.g., chest breathing). The detailed mechanism (why overbreathing lowers tissue oxygen content) is discussed in the next section: Carbon Dioxide Effects.
The correct way to find your respiratory pattern is to measure body oxygen content (see the link in the previous paragraph). The CP test is simple and stress-free. Just relax completely, make a normal exhalation and pinch your nose with fingers so that to measure your stress-free breath holding time. (No stress at the end and after the breath hold at all!) Then you can find your approximate breath pattern.
Warning. Note that people cannot simply count their respiratory rate (or respiratory frequency) since it can change up to 2-3 times as soon as the person pays attention to own respiration.
There are, of course, many types of irregular respiratory patterns. Some people sigh every 3-5 minutes. Others cough a lot, or sniff sporadically. Often, breathing through the mouth is a part of the picture. All these irregularities are signs of low oxygenation and low CP due to chronic hypocapnia (CO2 deficiency in the brain cells). Respiratory irregularities can also occur during sleep and they can cause gradual development of sleep apnea.
Here we see that deep and/or fast breathing leads to reduced oxygen content in body cells and corresponds to worse health. That’s right! The more you breathe, the less oxygen is provided for the cells! If we learn how to have light, shallow, slow and relaxed respiratory pattern, oxygenation and the CP will be much longer.
Warning. It is a mistake to practice normal breathing if your CP is less than 30 s. Why? People often start to breathe deeply, while during normal respiration inhalations are tiny. Dr. Buteyko noticed this effect over 40 years ago. In fact, in order to achieve normal breathing one should practice reduced breathing, which is shallow and, for sick people, with less than 20 s current CP, more frequent.
"The breathing [retraining] should be monitored by an instructor who had learned the method himself. Our instruction of 1964 was published in Novosibirsk, 1000 issues. We still were naive and thought that after reading this correct instruction, the patient would be able to reduce breathing and then compare when it is normal. It [the instruction] included the information about normal breathing: 2 s for inhalation, 3 s for exhalation, 3 s for the pause, etc. First, he starts to breathe deeply, secondly, he immediately tries to fulfill that normal breathing. All effects are the opposite, even [for] a [medical] doctor." Dr. Buteyko, "Dr. Buteyko lecture in the Moscow State University on 9 December 1969"
Based on over 40 years of medical research conducted by Russian Medical Doctor Konstantin Buteyko and over 200 his medical colleagues, it was found that over 60 s of oxygen is incompatible with many modern health problems. As a result, Buteyko suggested that 60 s CP should be a standard for excellent health. This respiratory pattern has only about 8 breaths per minute at rest. Some of his students were able to drastically change their respiratory patterns types: they could have the heavy breathing pattern during their health misery and achieve the ideal breathing pattern.


  1. Very helpful Information..Thanks for posting.

  2. Hi Sameer, found your post very helpful and would like to use the breathing chart in my book as an illustration. Kindly advise on copyright restrictions and how to obtain permission for use.