For a perfect nighttime routine, it can help to keep an eye mask, lip balm, and a sound machine on your bedside table. Oh, and a roll of mouth tape, apparently. Mouth taping — a topic with over 115 million views on TikTok — is the latest viral tip for a better night’s sleep. It quite literally involves taping your mouth shut so that you breathe out of your nose as you snooze, and it’s said to offer a multitude of benefits.
Mouth breathing may not seem like a big deal, but it’s connected to a whole host of health issues, says Chester Wu, M.D., a double board-certified doctor of psychiatry and sleep medicine with Rise Science. According to Wu, it can lead to issues like dry mouth, sore throat, bad breath, and tooth decay, among other things.
On TikTok, creators have been taping their mouths shut to prevent these issues — and they’ve noted that it seems to help them sleep better, too. Creator @isabelle.lux says she can no longer sleep without mouth tape, and @celia.gercovich is also a huge fan. In a video, she noted that she’s “never slept better.”
Even though the method gets rave reviews, you have to admit there’s something creepy about taping over your mouth. One TikTok commenter said, “I would probably forget how to breathe” while another wrote, “I’m too scared I’d stop breathing and simply pass away in my sleep.” While mouth taping seems extra, there may also be something to it. Here’s what the experts have to say.
Sides Effects Of Mouth Breathing
Even if you breathe through your nose during the day, it’s common to start breathing through your mouth the moment you fall asleep, says Wu. Not only do your muscles relax as you drift off, but it’s also normal to breathe through your mouth if you snore or if you have nasal congestion, allergies, or other nose-related issues.
Here’s why it’s a problem: As you breathe in and out through your nose, your nasal passages work to warm and humidify the air, which is better for your lungs, according to Dr. Michael Breus, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and founder of The Sleep Doctor. “As the old saying goes, noses are for breathing, mouths are for eating,” he tells Bustle.
The cilia (the hairlike structures) in your nose also filter out dust, allergens, and other particles in the air, while the mouth does not. If you snooze with your mouth agape, all of that cold, unfiltered air passes over your throat and into your lungs, which is why you wake up with a sore throat, dry mouth, and bad breath — and why you might have oral health issues down the road, says Wu.
Mouth breathing is also associated with snoring, a pesky problem that can disrupt your slumber and ultimately lead to sleep deprivation. “Impaired brain function is a hallmark of sleep deprivation, and it can mimic symptoms of ADHD,” Wu adds. So if you wake up with general grogginess or feel out of it during the day, nighttime mouth breathing may be to blame.
Sleeping with your mouth open is associated with bigger issues, too, like sleep apnea, higher blood pressure, and lower blood oxygen levels. That’s because mouth breathing can cause over-breathing or hyperventilation, Wu explains, where you breathe out too much carbon dioxide relative to the amount of oxygen in your body. This is where mouth taping can potentially come in handy.
The Benefits Of Mouth Taping
The goal of mouth taping is to prevent all the unwanted side effects of mouth breathing listed above. By mouth taping at night, Wu says you may be able to reduce your snoring, improve sleep quality, increase your daytime energy levels and focus, reduce dry mouth and bad breath, and reduce your risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
“A medical professional can also help you determine if mouth taping is a good option for you,” says Wu, adding that they can check for other underlying health issues that may need to be addressed, like sleep apnea or nasal polyps.
Of course, mouth taping isn’t the only way to cure your nighttime breathing woes. Other alternatives include sleeping on your side, especially with a special side sleeping pillow, so your mouth is less likely to hang open. It may also help to relieve congestion before bed with a nasal spray.
Is Mouth Taping Safe?
According to Breus, you should absolutely get checked by a doctor before giving this a try — especially if you think you have sleep apnea — to ensure you don’t obstruct your breathing. Once you’re in the clear, it’s OK to try taping your mouth.
Start with a few minutes during the day to see how it feels. If it’s hard to breathe properly due to congestion or other nasal issue, Wu recommends skipping this trend. If you can breathe comfortably, go ahead and test the tape at night.
Once you get into bed, Breus suggests placing a small piece of micropore tape vertically — not horizontally — across your lips. Make sure it’s easy to remove so that you don’t have to panic or worry about it getting stuck. It also shouldn’t hurt to take off. The idea is to gently hold the middle of your lips together — not entirely close off your mouth. From there, sleep as you normally would and see how you feel in the morning.
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