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Can mouth taping really help you sleep?

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Can mouth taping really help you sleep?

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Mouth taping is trending. The term has over 65 million views on TikTok and a growing fan base from followers who swear by the technique for better sleep. It’s just… surely, sticking tape over our mouths before we nod off is dangerous, right? There’s something instinctively unnatural about blocking our airways.

Even so, the TikTok tribe reckon “it prevents you mouth breathing all night and you’re going to start to get the deepest sleep you’ll ever experience,” according to one user, @lexfiish, whose video on the topic has picked up almost half a million likes. “It’s a bit uncomfortable at first and you do have to get used to it,” she warned but she credited it with improving her sleep quality.  

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Another user, @isabelle.lux insisted “breathing through your mouth contributes to a host of issues including bad breath, gum disease, cavities, brain fog and a weakened immune system – there are so many more. And most people, myself included, breathe through their mouths at night. Taping your mouth shut before bed completely prevents that and I’m not kidding, you’ll have the best sleep of your entire life. I can no longer sleep without it but I do have to remind you, please get actual mouth tape, don’t just put regular tape on your mouth.” 

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We spoke to Dr. Michael Breus, PhD and founder of TheSleepDoctor.com and Mr Pavol Surda, Consultant ENT and Rhinology Surgeon based at London Bridge Hospital and a consultant at HCA UK to understand what exactly mouth taping is, what it’s benefits are and whether it’s actually a good idea…

What is mouth taping?

“Mouth taping is a technique where a person puts a small piece of speciality tape vertically in the middle of their lips while sleeping, to keep their mouth closed during sleep in an attempt to avoid mouth breathing,” explains Dr Breus.

“This technique is employed with the intention of encouraging nose breathing, which is believed to offer potential health benefits such as reduced snoring, improved allergy symptoms, and fresher breath. It’s worth noting that the purported benefits of mouth taping are largely anecdotal, as only a few small scientific experiments have been conducted on this practice thus far,” explains Mr Surda. “Unfortunately there is very little data on its effectiveness,” agrees Dr Breus.

How does mouth taping work?

“Mouth taping works by physically preventing the mouth from opening during sleep, thus encouraging the individual to breathe through their nose. Nose breathing is considered more beneficial than mouth breathing, as it promotes proper filtration, humidification, and warming of the air, which can lead to improved overall respiratory function,” explains Mr Surda. “In many cases mouth taping can help clear congestion and if you have mouth breathing related snoring, it can be helpful, but you have to be careful,” agrees Dr Breus.

How can mouth taping help with snoring?

“Snoring is often caused by the vibration of soft tissues in the throat as air passes through during mouth breathing. By promoting nose breathing, mouth taping can reduce or eliminate the vibrations responsible for snoring. Moreover, nose breathing leads to an increased production of nitric oxide, which can relax the airways, further reducing snoring,” explains Mr Surda.

How to do mouth taping correctly?

Obviously, with any health-related or medical technique, it’s essential to understand all the risks involved and how to do it properly before trying it yourself. It’s always best to consult an expert.

Consult a doctor to check it’s the best course of action for you

“You should never mouth tape if someone suspects you may have sleep apnoea. These include: excessive daytime sleepiness or napping at inappropriate times, disrupted sleep and frequent nighttime waking, waking up with a headache, difficulties with concentration, snoring loudly, waking up gasping or making choking sounds, dry mouth in the morning and getting out of bed to urinate several times,” says Dr Breus.

Do NOT tape your mouth shut

“The tape itself should be a small piece that goes vertically (up and down) not horizontally or side to side. No one out there should be taping their mouth shut in case you need to fully breathe in the middle of the night,” warns Dr Breus. 

Use the correct tape

You can’t just grab the cellotape, “there is special ‘skin’ or ‘micropore’ tape that can be used,” says Dr Breus, which is breathable. There are also new devices that can be helpful, like Myotape. But never use scotch, duct, electrical tape [or any other kind],” says Dr Breus. Along with blocking airflow, “it will tear the skin off your lips,” he says.

Is mouth taping safe – what are the risks of mouth taping?

“Mouth taping is generally considered safe for most individuals; however, it may not be suitable for everyone. There are some risks associated with mouth taping, such as difficulty breathing in case of a blocked or congested nose, increased risk of choking or asphyxiation, and potential skin irritation from the adhesive,” says Mr Surda. That’s why, “it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before starting mouth taping, particularly if one has pre-existing respiratory issues, sleep apnea, or other health concerns.

What are some alternatives to mouth taping?

Mouth taping can seem a pretty radical step, especially when there are other more established and verified techniques to try first. These include…

  1. “Nasal strips or dilators to help to open the nasal passages and facilitate nose breathing,” says Mr Surda. “I personally use Mute whenever I drink alcohol, it opens up your nose and works,” says Dr Breus.
  2. “Sleep position modification, such as sleeping on one’s side to reduce the likelihood of snoring,” says Mr Surda.
  3. “Humidifiers or air purifiers to improve air quality and help alleviate allergy symptoms,” Mr Surda notes.
  4. “Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, regular exercise, avoiding alcohol or sedatives before bedtime, and practicing good sleep hygiene to promote healthy sleep and reduce snoring,” Mr Surda says. “About 5% weight loss (10lbs in a 200lbs person) will lower the decibel level of the snore about 30%,” confirms Dr Breus.
  5. “Medical treatments or devices, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, dental appliances, the ExciteOSA device, or surgery, depending on the severity of the condition and the individual’s unique needs,” Mr Surda says.

For more from GLAMOUR’s Beauty Editor, Elle Turner, follow her on Instagram @elleturneruk 



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