If you follow TikTok, you may have seen recent viral videos showing mouth taping for sleep. Those who tout the practice say it reduces snoring and bad breath, and helps you sleep more soundly. Some even claim that mouth taping leads to glowing skin, better digestion, and a stronger immune system.
Can taping your mouth closed truly lead to deeper sleep and better health? And is mouth taping safe?
Here’s what you need to know about this popular trend.
What Is Mouth Taping?
Mouth taping is literally taping your mouth shut while you sleep. Proponents say it can reduce snoring, sleep apnea, and a host of other problems.
The idea behind mouth taping is to encourage breathing through your nose, which is healthier than mouth breathing. You run a strip of surgical or athletic tape vertically across your lips before you go to bed. It stays in place all night, theoretically forcing you to breathe through your nose.
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Mouth Taping Safety
Mouth taping sounds good in theory, but there is scant scientific evidence that it is effective. Despite its recent popularity, there has been little research on mouth taping.
One small study looked at 20 people with mild sleep apnea. Of those people, 13 snored less with their lips taped shut. However, more extensive research needs to happen before doctors can recommend mouth taping for sleep.
The primary concern is safety. Since most evidence about mouth taping is anecdotal, there are no clear-cut guidelines for safely taping your mouth for sleep.
If you struggle to breathe through your nose during the day, you should definitely not tape your mouth at night. You may have a deviated septum, allergies, chronic congestion, or sinusitis. You should see a doctor for treatment.
Using the wrong kind of tape can also cause problems. You should never use products that aren’t meant for use on human skin. Duct tape or masking tape can be hard to remove and may cause irritation or allergic reactions.
Benefits of Nose Breathing
Those who tout mouth taping have one thing right: It is better to breathe through your nose.
If you breathe through your mouth at night, you may wake up with a sore throat and a dry mouth. More bacteria than usual collect in a dry mouth because there’s not enough saliva to wash them away. The presence of bacteria can lead to bad breath, cavities, and gum disease.
Breathing with your mouth open can even lead to changes in the shape of your mouth or jaw.
The benefits of breathing through your nose include:
- Better quality sleep.
- Fewer allergens, germs, and dust entering your lungs.
- Less anxiety.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Reduced snoring.
- The right amount of moisture in your mouth and lungs.
- Warm instead of cold air entering your lungs.
Alternatives to Mouth Taping
Mouth taping isn’t the best way to stop mouth breathing and sleep better. Before you reach for the medical tape, try these tips:
- Sleep on your side. People snore more when they sleep on their backs. Try sleeping on your side as much as possible.
- Take good care of your teeth. If you have bad breath, mouth taping won’t help. But brushing, flossing, and regular trips to the dentist will.
- Treat your allergies. Nasal congestion can make nose breathing much harder. If you have allergies that cause congestion, see a doctor for the best treatment.
- Use nasal strips. These sticky strips expand your nasal passages. You put them on the outside of your nose at night to aid breathing.
Good Sleep Hygiene
You can manage many sleep problems by developing good sleep habits. Here are some ways to get a solid night’s sleep.
- Banish glowing screens at least an hour before bedtime. Many electronics emit blue light, which can interfere with sleep. Reading a book before bedtime is a better choice for drifting off.
- Develop a bedtime routine. Do the same activities, in the same order, for the hour before bedtime. Your mind and body will get the message that it’s time to wind down.
- Don’t drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks close to bedtime. Both can interfere with sleep.
- Don’t eat a large meal right before bedtime. It can lead to heartburn or acid reflux, which will keep you awake.
- Get regular exercise. A routine of brisk walking, jogging, biking, or swimming can help you sleep better at night.
- Go to bed and wake up around the same time each night. Stick to the same schedule on weekends.
- Keep your bedroom cool. Doctors recommend a temperature of 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit for the best sleep.
- Keep your bedroom dark. Light suppresses melatonin production and tricks your brain into staying awake.
- Meditate, stretch, or do light yoga to help your mind and body wind down and prepare for sleep.
- Take a warm bath or have a cup of chamomile tea about an hour before bedtime. Both can leave you feeling relaxed and ready for sleep.
- Use your bedroom for sleeping and sex only. Your mind will associate your bedroom with relaxation.
When You Should See a Doctor for Sleep Problems
Everyone has a poor night of sleep now and then. But if you experience any of the following problems more than once a week, you should talk to your doctor.
- You don’t feel refreshed when you wake up.
- You fall asleep when you’re watching TV or reading.
- You find yourself fighting sleep when you’re driving.
- You have trouble falling or staying asleep.
- You have unusually bad breath.
- You sleep seven or eight hours at night and still feel tired during the day.
- You usually nap during the day.
- Your sleep partner tells you that you sleepwalk, act out dreams, or thrash around during the night.
- Your sleep partner tells you that you snore or gasp loudly in your sleep.
- Your sleep problems interfere with your day-to-day life at work or home.
Your doctor may recommend you see a sleep specialist or prescribe an overnight sleep study. The study monitors your brainwaves, breathing, eye, and limb movements. It can rule out conditions like sleep apnea.
The good news is that doctors can diagnose and treat most sleep disorders. Treatment may include a combination of lifestyle changes, behavioral therapy, and medicine.
Sleep Foundation, Mouth Taping for Sleep, Link
The New York Times, Can a Piece of Tape Help You Sleep? Link
CNN, A TikTok trend about mouth taping while you sleep can be dangerous, Link
National Library of Medicine, The Impact of Mouth-Taping in Mouth-Breathers with Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Preliminary Study, Link
Sleep Foundation, How to Talk to Your Doctor About Sleep, Link
CDC, Tips for Better Sleep, Link
National Sleep Foundation, Improve how you sleep with small changes to your evening routine, Link
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