Why You Should Tape Your Mouth Shut for Improved Sleep

Mouth taping is a new method of improving your sleep that is starting to gain a lot of popularity.

While mouth taping might initially sound like a weird solution to improving your sleep, there are actually a lot of people and research supporting it. Furthermore, many people are reporting that it has helped them with their sleep.

What is mouth taping?

Mouth taping is a method that can treat sleeping with your mouth open as it forces you to breathe through your nose. When we sleep, some of us naturally breathe with our noses however many of us do so with our mouths.

Research has shown that it is a lot more beneficial to breathe through our noses as mouth breathing can lead to health conditions like snoring, allergies, and bad oral health.

While there are large groups of people that propose mouth taping as a great solution to these health conditions, there can be some side effects associated with mouth taping, which you, of course, need to be aware of.

If you are considering using mouth tape, you can learn everything you need to know in this article.

How mouth taping works and its benefits

Mouth taping is just what it sounds like – you tape your mouth shut just before you go to sleep.

If you normally breathe through your mouth when you sleep, taping your mouth shut will force you breathe through your nose during your sleeping hours, by gently reminding your brain not to open your mouth.

During the day, your goal should be to breathe as much as possible through your nose and avoid breathing through your mouth, as these are some of the benefits associated with it:

  • Lubricating your nostrils and sinuses, and thus, preventing them from drying out
  • Nasal breathing humidifies the air coming in to your body, which is very helpful for individuals with chronic lung diseases
  • Gives your mouth the opportunity to balance out pH levels, preventing gingivitis, dry mouth, and dental decay
  • Automatically improves nitric oxide intake, which is super beneficial for blood oxygen levels, brain health and function, and cardiovascular health
  • Reduced risk of snoring

Side effects of mouth breathing during the night

Mouth breathing is associated with many negative health effects [source], including the following:

  • Night-time coughing
  • Dry mouth and bleeding gums
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sleep apnea [source]
  • Sore throat
  • Increased risk of asthma [source]

Potential side effects and dangers of mouth taping

As you can see, there are many benefits associated with mouth taping, however there are also some side effects that you need to be aware of.

If you have any of the following health conditions you should avoid mouth taping unless you consult a doctor and they approve it:

  • Have bad nasal congestion because of allergies or an illness
  • Have nasal breathing difficulties
  • Are obese (BMI over 35)
  • Have very low blood pressure
  • Have severe heart or breathing problems
  • Have severely chapped lips or skin around the mouth, or any open sores, wounds etc.
  • Have consumed alcohol or sedatives

Some of the typical risks of mouth taping include:

  1. Your skin might get irritated around your mouth and lips
  2. You might experience some sticky residue from the tape the next day
  3. Sleep disruptions and insomnia

How to start

During the day you can be mindful of how you’re breathing, however at night you can’t control this and that’s where mouth tape comes in.

If you want to try and see if this practice can help you, you should start out by consulting your doctor. Make sure that it is safe for you to try and that you have no underlying conditions that mean you shouldn’t try sleeping with your mouth taped shut.

If your doctor says it is okay for you to try, here is how you can get started:

  • First cut a piece of tape about 2 inches (5cm) long.
  • Stick the tape over the center of your mouth so it’s covering both the upper and lower lips.
  • If you prefer, you can stick the tape over the side of your mouth instead of the center, or you can alternate throughout the week.
  • The main goal of the tape is to provide a gentle tug to your lips, which reminds your brain not to open your mouth while you’re sleeping.
  • You don’t need to fully tape up your mouth, in fact you should be able to still speak.
  • Now you are ready to fall asleep and see how you feel the next morning.

It can be a good idea to try out mouth taping during the day for a couple of days before doing it as you sleep. By doing this, you can experience what it feels like and acclimate yourself to the feeling.

Furthermore, doing it during the day can help you with breathing more through your nose and less through your mouth, and start to ingrain and improve this new and beneficial habit.

What if my skin gets irritated?

If your skin is getting irritated then try to experiment with a different type of tape, porous tape for sensitive skin usually works best.

If that doesn’t work you could also apply some skin cream or petroleum jelly to your skin around your mouth and your lips. This can help prevent irritation on the skin and avoid leaving sticky residue from the tape.

Additional benefits and expert insights on mouth taping

Check out this Q&A with Dr. Mark Burhenne for additional insights on why this practice can help you:

Expert Q&A by dentist, author, and sleep and airway specialist, Dr. Mark Burhenne.