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Every night, after my wife and I say our goodnights, I reach for a roll of tape in the drawer of my bedside table. Relaxing my lips, I place the tape over them, taping my mouth shut before I turn off the lights. Sound bizarre? That’s what I thought at first, but the health benefits and improvement in sleep quality are undeniable. I do this because I want to make sure I’m breathing out of my nose. I’ll explain why.
Eliza, one of my patients, says, “I was a different person,” before she learned to nose breathe. I noticed one day at her appointment that she was mouth breathing and sent her home with some mouth tape. She tried mouth taping that night and immediately discovered that it was impossible for her to do so. Now, years later after learning how to nose breathe, she has transformed. She has better focus, memory, and concentration. Her anxiety is greatly reduced. She also hasn’t had a cavity since.
If you’re breathing through your mouth while you sleep at night, it’s a big deal. In this post, I’ll cover why mouth taping is an amazing sleep hack and how to get started with mouth taping if it’s your first time.
Why Mouth Tape?
If you’re thinking, “But how will I breathe?” know this: nasal breathing is the normal way to breathe. The mouth is for eating and the nose is for breathing—but our modern lifestyle has modified this important distinction.
Start watching people around you—your family, your co-workers. You’ll notice that a lot of people mouth breathe by default. Mouth breathing elevates blood pressure and heart rate, worsens asthma and allergies, and deprives the heart, brain, and other organs of optimal oxygenation.
Nasal breathing is important because of nitric oxide, which your body produces in the sinuses. When you nose breathe, you get the benefits of nitric oxide, which are extraordinary. The body produces 25% of its nitric oxide from nose breathing. Breathe through your mouth and you will be short on nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide enhances memory and learning, regulates blood pressure, reduces inflammation, improves sleep quality, increases endurance and strength, and improves immune function. I want my nitric oxide! You should want it too.
When you spend more time nose breathing during sleep at night, you:
- Wake up feeling rested
- Reduce high blood pressure and risk of heart disease
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Improve concentration and memory
- Reduce attention deficit and hyperactivity
- Relieve headaches, migraines, back pain, sciatica, and neuralgia
- Improve weight loss and digestion
- Strengthen your immune system and resistance to the common cold
Ever woken up with a dry mouth? This isn’t normal either. A dry mouth isn’t just uncomfortable—it’s harmful to the oral microbiome, which can have effects downstream in the rest of the body. A dry mouth promotes cavities because the teeth are not being bathed in saliva, which helps teeth resist cavities through a process called remineralization. And the ever-so-crucial pH of the mouth lowers into the acidic zone, which promotes cavities. Oh, and mouth breathing can also be the cause of bad breath.
Mouth taping not only forces me to nose breathe during sleep, it’s also a great at-home diagnostic tool. If I wake up with the tape no longer on my mouth, then I know I didn’t breathe properly that night. Many of my patients have sought out help from an ENT (an ear, nose, and throat specialist), allergist, or sleep medicine physician as a result of seeing that they couldn’t keep the tape on their mouths all night—and these specialists were able to treat the root cause of the blockage in their noses, helping them nose breathe effortlessly all day and all night long.
How to Mouth Tape for Better Sleep
It’s perhaps the easiest sleep hack out there—simply tape your mouth shut before bed. The tape forces you to nose breathe even while you’re unconscious in deep sleep.
Mouth Taping Tips:
- Fold over the tape on both ends to make it easy to rip off
- Go with a roll of tape instead of strips, which is easier to apply
- If you find yourself taking off the tape before you wake up, don’t despair! This is great information. Work with your doctor or dentist to understand what’s preventing you from nose breathing. The most common culprits are a stuffy, dusty bedroom, allergies, or a deviated septum, which is easily fixed with a common surgical procedure.
It’s time to do what our bodies were designed to do, and that is to breathe through our noses. Try mouth taping. You can’t guarantee that you’re nose breathing all night long – your mouth may fall open in the middle of the night. Find out if you can breathe all night long through your nose, and, if you can, enjoy the benefits of doing so. If you can’t, then you know to see your doctor to get that nasal blockage fixed for better breathing, better sleep, and better health.
Where Do I Buy Mouth Tape?
I’ve tried a lot of different mouth tape. In my book, The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox, I recommend Snorless Strips, available on Amazon, but I’ve recently discovered Micropore tape, also available on Amazon – which is easier to dispense, especially when the lighting is low before bedtime.
The advantage to using tape that’s specifically designed for mouth taping is that there is less residue on your lips when removing the tape in the morning and it’s generally more comfortable. Some people have asked if they can use duct tape or regular scotch tape, and my answer is, sure—but it won’t be comfortable and you’re likely to not continue using it!
For further reading, I recommend:
- This book by Buteyko breathing specialist Patrick McKeown: Close Your Mouth: Buteyko Clinic Handbook for Perfect Health
- This blog post by sleep specialist ENT Dr. Steven Park: Attention All Mouth Breathers – 5 Important Reasons Why You Must Breathe Through Your Nose
Have you tried mouth taping? Let me know what you think in the comments below! I read each and every one.
Dr. Mark Burhenne