Mouth taping has become a popular solution to mouth breathing.
The idea behind mouth taping is very simple and is just what it sounds like: you tape your mouth shut when you are sleeping. This forces you to breathe through your nose, which is far better for your health.
People swear by mouth taping and tell stories about how it has taken their horrible sleep and transformed it into amazing sleep again.
Some even say that it cures snoring. There is some serious research behind mouth taping, and the effects of breathing through your nose versus through your mouth.
James Nestor on mouth taping
In James Nestor’s book “Breath” he argues that mouth breathing is actually very unhealthy. To begin with, James Nestor tried plugging his own nose for ten consecutive days and describes in the book what a horrible experience that was.
In the book he also describes an experiment by the dentist Egil P. Harvold conducted in the 1960s (quite a horrible experiment might I add). Harvold gathered a group of monkeys and let half of them breathe normally through their noses while he stuffed silicone deep into the nasal cavities of the other half. He then monitored the monkeys for six months, and the results were very clear.
All the monkeys whose noses were obstructed adapted to constant mouth breathing, which in all cases led to the same unhealthy patterns. Narrowing of the dental arch, crooked teeth, and a gaping mouth was the general result. He even repeated this experiment again, but for two years, and the results were just even worse.
When Harvold removed the nose plugs the monkeys’ breathing and facial structure started to get better again.
His results demonstrated that mouth breathing directly changes the airways for the worse. When you inhale air through the mouth, it reduces the pressure in your airways, which leads to the soft tissues in your mouth becoming loose – resulting in less overall space for breathing.
Inhaling through the nose, however, has the direct opposite effect and makes breathing easier with time. Even for those of us who breath through our noses during the day, when we sleep we often turn to mouth breathing.
Mouth breathing during sleep results in the same issues as the plugged-up monkeys experienced. The soft tissues and our tongue close the airway, and this leads to snoring and sleep apnea.
These studies and others mentioned in his book have led James Nestor into being a big advocate for mouth taping, here’s a short excerpt where he discusses why we should tape our mouths at night:
How to start mouth taping and what type of tape to use
If you want to begin mouth taping, you shouldn’t just use any sort of tape. If you use the wrong tape, you might end up with sore or irritated skin and lips, and sticky residue that is hard to clean off.
Your goal should be to look for a tape that is specifically made for mouth taping, or alternatively, you can use micropore tape. Micropore tape is often a cheaper alternative, but it may leave you with some sticky residue on your face when you wake up.
Never use other types of tapes that aren’t made for being used on the skin, and never use duct tape.
Best tape for mouth breathers:
- Tape made specifically for mouth taping, such as SomniFix Mouth Strips or Myotape by Patrick McKeown.
- Micropore tape, such as the 3M™ Micropore™ Surgical Tape.
When you begin mouth taping, there’s a good chance that you won’t make it through the entire night on with your mouth, which is perfectly normal.
You will probably take a week before you have fully adjusted and gotten used to sleeping with your mouth shut.
If you are experiencing some of the described issues when you sleep, mouth taping might be an easy and cheap fix for you.
Before trying this out, we always recommend that you consult your doctor. Make sure that your doctor gives you the go-ahead and doesn’t think that you have any underlying health conditions that should keep you from trying mouth taping.
Mouth taping is very simple; the only important factor is that you get the right type of tape, as it otherwise can become a very irritating experience. You can find both types of tape mentioned above at most stores, and definitely on the internet.
My advice is to try it out for yourself and see how you feel after a few nights of breathing through your nose instead of your mouth.