Since downloading TikTok a little over a year ago, I think I’ve learned more from one app than I ever did in school. I’ve learned that frost flowers exist (they’re beautiful, look them up), how to do everything better thanks to @brunchwithbabs, and what a day in the life of a sorority girl looks like during #BamaTok.
My most recent discovery? Taping your mouth closed while you sleep. I first learned about this hack from Chance Culp in a video where she said she doesn’t remember why she started taping her mouth shut at night but she feels like it’s improved her sleep. I’m lucky enough to usually sleep like a baby without any help (*humble brag*), I was still curious about the benefits of mouth taping. I continued my TikTok scroll to learn why other creators and experts swear by this trick, and it wasn’t long until I was convinced I needed to try it too. Read on to learn more about this wellness trend and why everyone’s including it in their nightly routine.
Why tape your mouth while you sleep?
Before we talk about the benefits of mouth taping, it’s important to understand why it’s being done. And the answer is simple: to avoid breathing through your mouth. But aside from mouth breathing being unflattering and drying out your lips, why is it a problem?
According to Dr. Konstantin Pavlovich, who developed a functional breathing technique called the Buteyko Method in 1952, poor breathing can be linked to various physical, neurological, and respiratory conditions. Practicing functional breathing (breathing in and out through the nose into the diaphragm) rather than poor breathing (breathing through the mouth into the chest) has been shown to improve health issues such as asthma, rhinitis, hayfever, anxiety, stress, panic attacks, dental health, craniofacial development, ADHD, insomnia, snoring, and sleep apnea.
Founder & CEO of Hostage Tape, Alex Neist echoes this sentiment, saying 25-50% of the population breathes through their mouth during sleep. So if our mouths are opening, taping them shut promotes nose breathing, which then leads to a number of benefits that not only promote better sleep but better overall health. “Mouth taping can reduce or eliminate snoring and apnea for many people, increase oxygen intake and circulation so you have more energy when you wake up, help your diaphragm work properly which relaxes your body for less stress, help reduce inflammation, boost immune system, and reduce bad breath, tooth decay, and dry mouth,” Neist explained.
How to tape your mouth
Before you give it a try, it’s important to learn the do’s and don’ts of taping your mouth. You’re not just sticking Scotch tape over your mouth. There are products specifically for mouth taping so it keeps your mouth closed through the night for your nose to breathe, but doesn’t feel restrictive or hurt to take off. Lalitha Bhowani-McSorley, lead physical therapist and sleep expert at Brentwood Physiotherapy Calgary, said the best type of tape to use when taping your mouth for sleep is a medical adhesive tape, such as surgical or micropore tape. “This type of tape holds firmly without sticking too much to the skin and causing discomfort, while also allowing enough breathability. It is important to note that it should be changed every time,” she said.
With mouth taping becoming a more widespread practice, companies are coming out with products to help. “There are companies that sell adhesive strips designed specifically for taping your mouth shut before bed. Other options include hypoallergenic and surgical tapes, which are commonly used on human skin,” says Dr. Katherine Hall, a sleep psychologist at Somnus Therapy. In addition to using the right type of tape to avoid irritation, it’s also important to apply the tape correctly. In this video, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Barrett recommends starting with a small piece of tape right in the center of your lips and gradually increasing the amount of tape used and surface area covered. If you experience difficulty sleeping or other issues related to mouth breathing, talk to your doctor to see if mouth taping may be right for you.
I wish I could say that better sleep and increased oxygen levels were the driving factors for me trying out this technique, but because I am admittedly a little vain, I was mostly influenced to tape my mouth after learning that mouth breathing can change the look and shape of your face. The possibility of it easing my anxiety was also a nice plus, so I was open to giving it a shot.
As a chronic allergy and asthma sufferer, I was nervous to try taping my mouth shut at first because breathing is already tough for me. I assumed I would end up suffocating in my sleep, and while it was tough to breathe at first, that wasn’t the case. I struggled the first night and had to remove the tape a couple times to take a deep breath through my mouth, but eventually I got comfortable breathing through my nose. By the second night, it already felt natural to fall asleep breathing through my nose, and I continued to sleep well through the night without any of the stuffiness I usually experience. I was also pleasantly surprised that I didn’t find the tape uncomfortable or distracting while I slept. Most mornings I woke up and forgot it was even there.
I can’t say that a few nights of taping my lips closed totally transformed my health, but it has reframed the way I think about my body. A majority of the health issues I face on a daily basis—anxiety, asthma, acid reflux, fatigue, and more—are side effects that can come from mouth breathing. While I do feel an improvement in these symptoms, I’m now more aware of how important it is to listen to your body and embrace its natural state, whether that’s focusing on your posture, breath, or gut health. Most often the answer to your health concerns is right under (or in this case, inside of) your nose.
Source: Cosmo Politian