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When you think about anti-aging tips, you may consider night creams, moisturizers, and even hacking your diet.
Have you ever thought of how you’re breathing, though?
How you breathe not only affects your dental health over a lifetime, it also impacts how well you age.
Nose breathing is one of the major ways your body produces a compound called nitric oxide (NO). This is the stuff that provides oxygen to your bloodstream, which you need for…well, just about everything.
One of the many benefits of this is reducing fine lines and wrinkles, but that’s only the beginning of the many health benefits of boosting your body’s nitric oxide production.
Have you ever thought about nose breathing as a useful answer for how to get rid of wrinkles?
Let’s take a look at how nitric oxide impacts the aging of your cells and how you can train yourself to stop mouth breathing and slow down aging.
Spoiler: You’re going to learn all about mouth taping, one of the simplest ways to get more nitric oxide.
What is nitric oxide (NO)?
By chemical definition, nitric oxide is a gas that is formed when oxygen and nitrogen meet at high temperatures. Each cell of your body is capable of producing some nitric oxide.
In the body, nitric oxide is what oxygenates your blood. You need oxygen to reduce your risk of disease and a host of other benefits (shown below).
Nitric oxide is most well-known for its role in heart health. It’s a “potent vasodilator and regulator of blood pressure.”
It has been shown to improve digestion, immunity, memory, and even some behavioral disorders.
Nitric oxide is widely considered to be one of the most important molecules the human body produces, and a lot of it is made in the nose and sinus cavity. (1)
Other ways you get nitric oxide are through your diet, eating foods high in nitrates like vegetables. You can also increase your production with some supplements and by exercising, although people with heart disease don’t experience this benefit. (2, 3)
Nitric oxide makes your blood vessels supple and flexible. This gives the vessels strength to withstand pressure changes, which is one reason it’s thought to be so beneficial to your circulatory system.
When you have more nitric oxide in your bloodstream, your blood vessels stay large and dilated. But when your nitric oxide is low, your blood pressure suffers as the vessels constrict. (4)
This is partly why nitric oxide is a key benefit to slowing the aging process, including the health and appearance of your skin, wrinkling of the skin, etc. It’s one of the anti-aging tips you’ve probably never even heard of.
Here are a few more of the benefits of NO to the body:
- Enhanced memory and learning
- Better regulated blood pressure
- More regulated inflammatory response
- Improved sleep quality
- Increased endurance and strength
- Better opportunity for weight loss
- Improved immune/gut function
- Decreased pain
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Help with symptoms of anxiety and depression
Further Reading: Nitric Oxide and Oral Health
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Nitric oxide is the body’s built-in wrinkle remover.
Now, let’s talk about the discovery of telomeres and how they relate to nitric oxide, the aging process, and rhytides (wrinkles).
Telomeres are stretches of DNA at the ends of our chromosomes. Some have compared telomeres to the plastic tips of shoelaces, since they keep the chromosome ends from fraying or sticking to each other.
What causes aging? It’s your telomeres getting shorter.
When it comes to anti-aging tips, there’s really nothing better than a way to lengthen your telomeres.
Telomeres shorten each time your cells divide, like when you build new skin cells or
While we know there’s no way to completely stop aging, now there is a lot of research out there about how to lengthen telomeres and slow down aging.
Shorter telomeres are linked to shorter life spans in humans. A major cause of aging is “oxidative stress” that shortens telomeres faster than otherwise.
In the article linked above, they state:
“Oxidative stress is the damage to DNA proteins and lipids (fats) caused by oxidants. These oxidants are produced normally when we breathe, and also result from inflammation, infection, and consumption of alcohol and cigarettes.”
Oxidative stress, telomere shortening, and chronological age, along with various genes, all work together to affect the aging process in our bodies.
Plus, the older you get, the more nitric oxide you’ll naturally produce—making nose breathing all the more important. (7)
Don’t get lost in the scientific terms discussed in this section. The most important takeaway from this section is this:
Breathing through your nose is one of the simplest and most effective ways to bring nitric oxide into your body.
Having the proper levels of nitric oxide in your body is vitally important to numerous functions of the body.
As it relates to aging, nitric oxide can support:
- Healthy blood flow
- Vibrant, less wrinkly skin
- A longer lifespan
Anti-aging tips that improve health and appearance? Yes, please.
But I’m not a mouth breather…right?
Do you always breathe through your nose? I think the answer might surprise you.
Before I explain, let me say this: Most people who mouth breathe during sleep have no idea it’s happening.
Not sure if you are a “closet mouth breather”? Here are some symptoms to watch for:
- Dry mouth
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Waking up tired and irritable
- Chronic fatigue
- Brain fog
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Seeing drool on your pillowcase
How can I tell if I’m mouth breathing at night?
The fastest method, if you have the option, is to ask your family. It may not be the most pleasant subject to discuss with a spouse or partner, adult child or friend that would be willing to observe and give you an honest answer.
You can also be aware of symptoms of mouth breathing. Do you experience any of these issues on a regular basis?
- Waking up frequently through the night, usually coupled with the need to urinate
- Bad breath
- Frequent cavities
- Gum disease, from gingivitis all the way to stage IV periodontitis
- Waking up tired often
- Grinding teeth (bruxism)
Frequent nighttime mouth breathing will mess up your ability to sleep well. Because of this, you may also try an at-home sleep test to see if your sleep quality has been affected…more on that below.
How To Nose Breathe For More Nitric Oxide
Step 1: change the habit
Daytime mouth breathing is often a result of a habit.
Be intentional about breathing through your nose. Think about how you’re breathing: Does it feel natural to just breathe in and out through your mouth?
By focusing on your breathing throughout the day, you’re able to start training your body to breathe through your nose.
Changing this habit will be especially important if you’re a big talker or your job requires you to be talking regularly.
Incorporate this with other simple anti-aging tips, like adjusting what you eat to include more veggies and antioxidant-rich fruits.
There may be other things standing in the way, though. If a habit change doesn’t do the trick (or you think you’re still mouth breathing at night), look at some additional steps to start nose breathing.
Step 2: mouth tape
Working on daytime mouth breathing is one thing—but what if you’re doing it at night?
Again, for many people, mouth breathing during sleep can be a bad habit that develops over time. Sleeping on a wedge pillow can help, but it’s not always the total solution.
If you snore, drool, wake up with a very dry mouth, or have chronic bad breath, it’s very likely you’re not breathing through your nose during sleep.
Want an anti-aging product that will help with how to prevent wrinkles? Try mouth tape.
Using mouth tape is the simplest way to correct nighttime mouth breathing. Take a strip of mouth tape (or a medical tape like this one) and tape it over your lips. During the night, your mouth shouldn’t be able to fall open.
I think mouth tape should be one of the hottest anti-aging products people rave about!
As an aside: Many people are concerned about the idea of mouth taping at first because it sounds like it would stop you from breathing if you developed a stuffy nose while sleeping. But rest assured…Your body likes to stay alive! Your brain will wake you up if, at any point, you begin to feel like you can’t breathe.
This is my favorite mouth tape to use. It’s called Somnifix and you can get a buy one, get one 50% off deal on your first order with code DOCTORB.
Sleep Strips by SomniFix
Mouth taping isn’t just good for helping you nose breathe—it’s also a useful diagnostic tool.
When you try to mouth tape but can’t, it’s a sign that something more than a habit has gone wrong.
You might see this happen in two types of circumstances:
- When you first put on mouth tape, you can’t easily breathe through your nose.
- Or, you’re able to tape at first but notice that your mouth comes apart throughout the night. This is normal for a few nights but should stop happening after a week or so.
When either of these happens, it’s a sign you’ve got something else stopping you from nose breathing normally.
Steps 3 and 4 can help you figure out what could be preventing optimal breathing.
Step 3: treat congestion of the sinuses
The most common cause of mouth breathing is congestion in the nasal passages, like from a sinus infection or allergies.
For seasonal or household allergies, the solution could be as simple as over-the-counter allergy medication.
If you have a sinus infection, try a nasal spray to help reduce nasal swelling and encourage healing.
I like this nasal spray for moistening and clearing the sinus cavity:
Xlear Nasal Spray
In more serious cases, your physician will also likely begin with allergy meds. Nose sprays, decongestants or antihistamines would be the place to start, especially if the doctor cannot identify a more specific problem.
As you get older and incorporate anti-aging tips into your life, breathing well through your nose becomes all the more important. Don’t ignore chronic nasal congestion.
No nasal congestion? In that case, your mouth breathing could be caused by other factors, like enlarged adenoids or tonsils, a misshapen or damaged nasal cavity, or the way your face is shaped.
Step 4: find out if you have sleep apnea and/or an airway obstruction
I know this might seem extreme, but your body desperately needs nitric oxide.
Being unable to nose breathe isn’t just an annoyance, it’s a dangerous thing to live with long-term.
When steps 1-3 haven’t worked, it’s time to start looking into more complex answers.
If you’re physically unable to breathe through your nose, or it’s very difficult, you may have interrupted sleep at night. Disordered sleep breathing, whether from sleep apnea or the less severe UARS (upper airway resistance syndrome), makes you mouth breathe at night.
Sleep apnea, mouth breathing, fast aging, and even grinding your teeth are all very interrelated, so it often takes the effort of multiple doctors to treat severe cases.
Not ready or able to get a full sleep study and schedule an appointment with specialists? Start with a home sleep test.
One of my favorites is SnoreLab. You may also want to try using a device like a FitBit or an Apple Watch to get more accurate readings on how you’re sleeping.
If you do, in fact, have sleep apnea, you might need to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist (an ENT) to locate the obstruction hindering your breathing.
Mouth Taping For Sensitive Skin: Dos and Don’ts
Before addressing the more sensitive skin of seniors, here’s a brief overview of how anyone should mouth tape.
Mouth tape is the process of taping your mouth shut before bed.
There are specially shaped strips that you “fix” to your lips. The tape is designed to not interfere with your facial hair. You pucker, then attach the strip to your lips. When properly set on your lips, they should be in a naturally closed position.
When the tape is on, you should be able to open your mouth fairly easily. The goal is not to totally close the airway; it is to aid in naturally breathing through your nose.
It may be slow going in the beginning. If at first, you can’t keep the tape on all night, don’t give up! Remember the amazing anti-aging benefits (and tons of others) that nose breathing gives to your body, inside and out.
What do I do if my sensitive skin is irritated by the tape?
As our bodies age, our skin ages with it (which is why anti-aging tips are so important to keep skin glowing).
Even very healthy skin on a person over 50 will show signs of aging: wrinkles around the eyes and mouth, forehead lines, crepey skin, etc. There are seemingly countless ways to protect and prevent wrinkles and other signs.
What causes wrinkles? Put simply, wrinkles occur due to a breakdown of collagen and elastin in our skin.
There are lots of natural, and some not-so-natural, methods that can slow the aging process.
I think it’s best to go back to the basic anti-aging tips: good, well-balanced diet, adequate hydration, and quality rest. Also, most experts agree that, while it’s good to be outdoors, enjoying healthy activities and the beauty of nature, you shouldn’t go out without some good sunscreen to protect your skin.
But even the best-cared-for skin can be irritated by adhesive. Think of the way the sticky part of a bandaid can make your skin red and itchy when you remove it. The skin around your mouth is more fragile than other parts of the body.
Some folks have complained of having red, blotchy skin around their lips, inflamed, sore skin in the corners of their mouth, and dry, flaky lips from the adhesive.
Here are some ways to address and/or prevent irritation around your lips from mouth taping.
- I highly recommend Somnifix Sleep Strips. The adhesive on Somnifix is milder than on other brands and best for sensitive skin.
- When applying the strips, be careful to hold your lips together and pouting slightly. As you place the tape, begin by touching the center of your lips and move out from there. (Over time, you may even notice your lip looking a little more pouty.)
- Reuse the tape You may get as many as three nights from using a high-quality brand like Somnifix. After using the strips for a bit, you’ll begin to get a good sense of when they have lost their stickiness.
Final Thoughts about Nose Breathing Anti-Aging Tips
Nitric oxide is a super star for keeping our skin glowing and youthful.
Although an often-overlooked molecule, nitric oxide is an important key to numerous anti-aging health benefits. Improved memory and behavior, immune function, inflammation, sleep, and endurance are just some of reasons mouth taping for better nose breathing is one of the best anti-aging tips.
Although wrinkles are a natural part of the aging process, there are anti-aging tips that you easily incorporate into your daily living. Nose breathing is one anti-aging tip that’s very important, but rarely talked about.
A large amount of your body’s nitric oxide is produced naturally in the sinus cavity.
Mouth breathing has a significantly negative impact on our oral, dental, and overall health, because it drastically reduces the nitric oxide that gets to your blood.
Mouth breathing may be common, but it’s not normal, and mouth taping is an easy, non-invasive solution.
Proper use of mouth tape—for any age adult—is not only a health benefit, but also one of the simplest and most effective anti-aging tips you can employ. Your body really likes it when you make more nitric oxide!
Regardless of your age, increased NO production can have amazing effects on your skin.
For seniors, sensitive skin doesn’t have to pose a problem when mouth taping. By taking just a few precautions—use of a quality product like Somnifix, careful placement of the strips on your mouth, reusing tape if the adhesive holds up—age need not be an issue at all.
Do you mouth tape? Why or why not? I’d love to hear about it.
- Lundberg, J. O. N., Farkas-Szallasi, T., Weitzberg, E., Rinder, J., Lidholm, J., Änggåard, A., … & Alving, K. (1995). High nitric oxide production in human paranasal sinuses. Nature medicine, 1(4), 370. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7585069
- Lundberg, J. O., Weitzberg, E., & Gladwin, M. T. (2008). The nitrate–nitrite–nitric oxide pathway in physiology and therapeutics. Nature reviews Drug discovery, 7(2), 156. Full text: https://www.nature.com/articles/nrd2466
- Allen, J. D., Cobb, F. R., & Gow, A. J. (2005). Regional and whole-body markers of nitric oxide production following hyperemic stimuli. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 38(9), 1164-1169. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15808413
- Förstermann, U., & Sessa, W. C. (2011). Nitric oxide synthases: regulation and function. European heart journal, 33(7), 829-837. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3345541/
- Pierini, D., & Bryan, N. S. (2015). Nitric oxide availability as a marker of oxidative stress. In Advanced Protocols in Oxidative Stress III (pp. 63-71). Humana Press, New York, NY. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25323499
- Matsui-Hirai, H., Hayashi, T., Yamamoto, S., Ina, K., Maeda, M., Kotani, H., … & Hattori, Y. (2011). Dose-dependent modulatory effects of insulin on glucose-induced endothelial senescence in vitro and in vivo: a relationship between telomeres and nitric oxide. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 337(3), 591-599. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21357660
- Lyons, D., Roy, S., Patel, M., Benjamin, N., & Swift, C. G. (1997). Impaired nitric oxide-mediated vasodilatation and total body nitric oxide production in healthy old age. Clinical Science, 93(6), 519-525. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9497788