Mouth Taping For Better Sleep: 5 Benefits And Considerations

Mouth breathing can disrupt healthy sleep. Considering how vital getting quality rest is to overall wellbeing, many health enthusiasts got on board when mouth taping became a thing. Restraining the upper and lower lips from moving while sleeping prompts the body to breathe through the nose — a magical solution for mouth breathers who rarely feel rejuvenated despite sleeping like a log. Is mouth taping truly therapeutic — or is it pseudoscience?

Scientifically Proven Mouth Taping Benefits

The health enthusiasts who swear by this trend claim it can counter mouth breathing’s adverse effects. Some say it can reduce dry mouth, gum disease, bad breath and cavities. Others believe it can mitigate sleep-disordered breathing, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms, cognitive decline and slow growth in children.

The problem is these benefits are anecdotal. Researchers haven’t verified their factuality. There may be some truth behind such claims because they wouldn’t be as enduring otherwise. Still, they remain unsubstantiated until the scientific community finds conclusive evidence.

However, some studies involving people with sleep apnea have found that sealing the lips with porous tape can successfully achieve one thing — help sleepers snore less, which, in turn, minimizes weariness.

Reduced Snoring

A 2022 study discovered that oral-breathing individuals with mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who used 3M tape to shut their mouths before hitting the sack saw a 47% improvement in their median apnea/hypopnea and snoring indices.

The patients experienced nearly half fewer 10-second or longer episodes of slowed, restricted and shallow breathing and moments of nonbreathing at all. These findings convinced the Taiwanese researchers behind the study to view mouth taping as a viable alternative treatment for OSA patients before resorting to continuous positive airway pressure therapy or going under the knife.

Decreased Tiredness

When you have OSA and orally breathe when you doze off, you stop breathing five times or more every hour during sleep due to an airway blockage. These pauses deprive your body of oxygen and cause carbon dioxide buildup. Your brain detects these, alerting you to take a breath. You wake up enough to inhale a few times but not enough to recall anything. Going through this cycle multiple times each night makes you feel exhausted in the morning.

Taping your mouth subtly reminds you to inhale nasally and prevent breathing interruptions. This increases your chances of getting restful sleep despite your OSA and detrimental habits — like using electronics too much or eating a large meal before bedtime.

Critical Considerations Before Taping Your Mouth

Although some researchers recommend treating OSA with mouth taping, health care professionals suggest you disregard it as a treatment for sleep disorders for three reasons.

It Fails To Address The Underlying Issue

Applying mouth tape merely addresses one of your sleep problem’s symptoms, not its underlying cause. It does nothing to the airway hindrance causing your OSA. The culprit may be a scalloped tongue, inflamed tonsils, age or gender since sleep apnea tends to affect adults over 65 and men.

Furthermore, your body may trigger you to breathe through your mouth when you have nasal congestion. Sealing your mouth instead of relieving your stuffy nose can cause breathing issues and degrade your sleep.

It May Cause More Problems Than It Solves

Using tape to close your mouth to get quality shuteye has various downsides. The adhesive can irritate your lips and the surrounding areas. About 2%-3% of people may get allergic contact dermatitis due to this irritant.

Moreover, removing the tape can be painful, especially when you have facial hair. The discomfort mouth taping brings can ironically disrupt your sleep, defeating its purpose.

Rendering oral breathing difficult when slumbering can be anxiety-inducing, making you feel restless at night and aggravating your sleep troubles. Some dislike the idea of concealing their mouths before lulling themselves into dreamland. Such uneasiness is justified, for you may throw up or choke because of it.

Wrongly taping your mouth may endanger your health. There are no official guidelines for doing it, and clinicians generally don’t practice it. Most health care professionals may refuse to advise you on how to do it.

This health trend’s drawbacks outnumber its science-backed benefits, so think twice about doing it.

It Has Better Alternatives

There are healthier and safer ways to reduce your snoring and tiredness. Sleeping on your side, lying in a bed optimized for spine alignment and pressure point reduction, and wearing nasal strips are more promising solutions.

Mouth Taping Is A Band-Aid Solution

The medical community may embrace this health trend someday if enough researchers validate its claims. However, don’t hold your breath. Most health care professionals consider it an inadequate remedy to sleep problems at best and a dangerous practice at worst.

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