Quality sleep is an important part of one’s health, and there are countless tips and tricks out there for getting a good night's rest. One of the more unusual ones, however, is called “mouth taping” — and yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like.
The goal of mouth taping is to encourage breathing through one’s nose instead of one's mouth, and involves putting a piece of medical tape gently over one’s lips before bed. Those who swear by the practice claim mouth taping allows them to get deep sleep, as well as avoid dry mouth and even bad breath.
TikToker @LexFiish, who bought one brand of mouth taping strips on Amazon, encouraged her followers to try the practice in a video, telling her audience of more than 20,000, “Try it. You’re going to get the deepest sleep you’ll ever experience.”
Cory Rodriguez, a TikToker with more than 340,000 followers who shares health and wellness tips on his platform, declared in a video that he tapes his mouth “every night,” because it helps his sleep, oral health and snoring.
According to an otolaryngologist, Dr. Shawn Nasseri, the scientific evidence suggests that you should breathe through your nose at night.
“Breathing through the nose allows the body to be in a deeper sleep, because you are taking fuller, deeper breaths, creating more oxygen to be distributed throughout the body,” Nasseri tells Yahoo Life. “It allows for a quieter, calmer, more relaxed breathing pattern, ultimately creating a deeper sleep.”
One sleep expert, Olivia Arezzolo, adds that mouth breathing, on the other hand, “allows unfiltered air to pass through, which can heighten the risk of allergic reactions, asthma, gum inflammation, tooth decay and bad breath.”
As Nasseri explains, “Your nose is the world’s best filter, humidifier and moisturizer. Breathing through your nose helps to filter pathogens, foreign substances and allergens. It increases oxygen uptake and circulation, while also increasing air flow to the arteries, nerves and veins. Breathing through your nose also makes the air you breathe more humid, which is important for lung function.”
However, as for mouth taping, Arezzolo points out that there is “limited clinical data” to support the purported benefits — and she adds that the practice may have some downsides.
“[Mouth taping] could lead to difficulty breathing, if your nasal passages are congested,” she says. “In addition, there may be anxiety around taping the mouth, which will then compromise sleep quality in itself. And of course, there’s also the pain and irritation of ripping tape off your mouth.”
Dr. Ramiz Fargo, an internal medicine physician specializing in sleep medicine at Loma Linda University in California, tells Yahoo Life that he doesn't recommend mouth taping. He points out that the first step to getting better sleep may be making sure you can breathe properly through your nose in the first place.
“If an individual finds it difficult to breathe through the nose, it may be that there is an underlying cause for obstruction to breathing, including congestion, anatomical defects or variable collapse of soft tissues in the breathing passages,” Fargo says. “Individuals should seek further evaluation with their primary physicians, with a possible referral to an allergist, ENT specialist or sleep specialist.”
For those who want to make sure they’re breathing out of their nose, Nasseri says that it's important to keep the nasal passages hydrated.
“I would recommend using a sterile saline spray, such as Euka’s Wellness Nasal Saline Spray before bedtime, to clear out excess mucus,” he says. “You can also try using a thicker pillow or an extra pillow to change the height of your head.”
If you're curious about mouth taping, Arezzolo says that there is a simpler — and safer — way to encourage nose breathing.
“Nasal strips are my best recommendation,” she says. “They gently open up the nasal passageway to maximize air flow, which achieves what mouth taping does, without the risks.”
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