Taping your mouth at night might sound like yet another health fad to roll your eyes at. However, the technique is actually backed heavily by science and physiology. Let's dive in.
When your mouth is taped shut, you’re forced to breathe through your nose. Believe it or not, nose breathing is how we were intended to get oxygen into our bodies – not mouth breathing.
Before we get into the specifics of mouth tape, let’s first discuss what the big issue is with mouth breathing.
The Problems With Mouth Breathing
The downsides to mouth breathing are seemingly endless. A 2013 study found that mouth breathing leads to high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and harmful heart conditions.
Beyond that, mouth breathing deprives your organs of the optimal oxygen that they need to function. This means cognitive dysfunction, problems with falling and staying asleep, and even snoring.
As you can imagine, breathing through your mouth on a regular basis will create chronic inflammation over time and potentially pose a serious threat to your health.
You’re probably wondering, “if mouth breathing is so harmful, why are we able to do it in the first place?” Turns out, the mouth is designed to serve as a secondary way to get oxygen into the body in emergency situations (like periods of severe congestion).
Doing it habitually, however, can worsen congestion, allergies, and even asthma.
When you breathe through your mouth, you activate your body’s stress response by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. This tells the brain to send stress hormones such as cortisol throughout the body.
Moreover, mouth breathing can increase your chances of poor oral healthby causing cavities. Breathing through the mouth dries out saliva, which is essential for maintaining the oral microbiome by coating and protecting the teeth, while nasal breathing allows saliva to do its job.
Now that we know why mouth breathing is so harmful, let’s talk about why nasal breathing is the ultimate way to deliver oxygen to the body.
Why Nose Breathing is Superior
The most significant difference between nasal breathing and mouth breathing? Nasal breathing produces nitric oxide, a miracle molecule that improves multiple functions in the body, such as:
Anxiety and depression
Weight loss and digestion
Past that, nasal breathing filters the air by utilizing the tiny hairs in the nostrils to remove germs, foreign particles, and debris, acting as a built-in filtration system.
The nose humidifies and warms the air, making your breath much easier on the lungs and body to accept. Mouth breathing, on the other hand, equals unfiltered, dry, and cold air. Who wants that?
Nasal breathing also activates the lower lungs, helping them deliver oxygen to your cells, tissues, and organs. This allows the oxygen you take in to remain in the lungs for a prolonged amount of time.
In turn, the body can convert more oxygen into carbon dioxide. This helps to regulate the pH of your blood, leading to optimal breathing and performance. This phenomenon is known as the Bohr Effect.
Put simply, you’ll be able to push faster, harder, and for longer periods during a workout if you breathe through the nose rather than the mouth due to boosted endurance.
Furthermore, nasal breathing also activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This system contains calming nerve receptors that allow the brain to emit soothing hormones that decrease stress levels and put the body and mind in a relaxed state.
Remembering to nasal breathe throughout the day is half the battle of reaping all of these health benefits, but what about at night? Enter: mouth tape.
How Mouth Tape Helps (And How to Use It)
The idea of mouth taping to maintain nasal breathing is pretty straightforward: place tape over the lips to keep them from coming apart while you’re asleep. Therefore, you’ll breathe in and out through the nose instead of the mouth.
As a result, you won’t snore your partner (or yourself) awake and you’ll boost your chances of getting that well-rested, full nights sleep you’ve been craving.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, you can even use the mouth tape in combination with your CPAP machine to help prevent snoring and improve the quality of your CPAP therapy with increased compliance.
However, getting used to using mouth tape may include a bit of a learning curve. For starters, you should avoid using facial moisturizer or chapstick right before bed, since it can make it harder for the tape to remain adhered to the lips.
It may take a few nights to get used to the sensation of having your lips taped shut. You can expose yourself to this foreign feeling by working your way up to wearing mouth tape all night long; start by wearing mouth tape for a short period, such as an hour or two, during the day. Then, try putting it on during a short nap. Work your way up from there until you can sleep for an entire night with the mouth tape on.
Don’t just reach for any old tape, though. Not all tape is safe and effective for mouth taping during sleep.
Not all Tape is Created Equal
Tape is just tape, right? Wrong! Not when it comes to mouth tape.
Never use duct tape or any other tape that isn’t created with skin in mind. The adhesive may lead to rashes, chapped lips, or other forms of irritation.
Plus, it may contain chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin. Some tape even contains synthetic rubber, which can have extremely harmful effects on the body. Who wants that?