Learn all about mouth taping with this complete guide! This is everything you need to know to use this cheap hack for better sleep, to improve your morning breath, reduce your snoring, and more.
What is Mouth Taping?
Mouth taping is just what it sounds like–literally taping your mouth shut! It sounds weird, and it may even sound scary, but it’s got a host of benefits. Mouth taping is especially beneficial for sleep, because it helps you ease into and stay in a relaxed state.
There are products designed specifically for mouth taping, such as mouth taping strips like Somnifix or The Sleep Tape. These options are hypoallergenic, don’t leave residue on your lips, and are designed for the contours of your lips. These strips are not required, though.
One of the best parts about this wellness hack is that it’s basically free (well, the cost of tape!)
Any tape will work, but if you don’t go with a sleep tape product, your best bet is 3M surgical tape (like this one). It won’t set you back much, and it won’t leave residue or harm your skin like regular tape might.
Is mouth taping safe?
While it may sound scary, mouth taping is completely safe provided you have clear nasal airways. If you’re congested, have a deviated septum, or have other conditions that make breathing through your nostrils difficult, it’s best to avoid mouth taping.
Rest assured that your body will not let you go without oxygen – it will wake you up!
To really put your mind at rest, you may wish to choose a specific mouth tape brand that has a breathable vent in front, such as Somnifix. This brand also ‘breaks’ the seal when you open your lips, so there’s no danger of having the tape stuck to you.
A few tips for safely taping your mouth shut at night:
1. Ease into it.
Work your way up to mouth taping at night. Try wearing tape for short stints during your day. Start with 15 minutes, then work your way up until you feel comfortable taping at night.
Mouth taping during meditation is a great way to ease into it!
2. Don't be hard on yourself.
If you’re accustomed to breathing through your mouth, switching to nose breathing will be an adjustment – especially in your sleep.
Chances are during your first several nights mouth taping, you’ll wake up and want to take off the mouth tape. You might even take it off in your sleep. It could take several days to over a week for your body to adjust, so don't be hard on yourself.
3. Choose the right type of tape.
Does mouth tape help for snoring?
Yes, it definitely can!
Snoring is caused by vibrations in the soft tissue at the back of the throat, often as a result of obstructed or narrowed nasal passages. Depending on whether you’re a nose snorer or a mouth snorer, mouth taping may help.
If your snoring originates in the mouth, give mouth taping a try.
Can mouth taping help with sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious condition in which the airway at the back of your throat is obstructed, resulting in decreased oxygen flow. Sufferers often stop breathing for stretches of time, causing them to wake up. While sleep apnea has links to mouth breathing, there isn’t much research to determine whether mouth breathing causes sleep apnea, or vice versa.
One of the treatments for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine, or a Continuous Positive Air Pressure machine. This device works by increasing positive air flow in the back of the throat, allowing for greater oxygen intake. It also enables its wearer to nose breathe more effectively. If you require a CPAP machine to manage your sleep apnea, chances are that mouth taping won’t help much.
Because of the difficulties maintaining an open airway in the back of the throat due to muscle dysfunction, mouth breathing versus nose breathing is somewhat inconsequential for managing sleep apnea.
What it can do, however, is give clues as to the severity of your sleep apnea.
You may try mouth taping for a while if for some reason you suspect you have sleep apnea. If your condition betters, you may be able to manage your symptoms with nose breathing. If your condition worsens, back off the mouth taping and bring your results up with your doctor for an official sleep apnea diagnosis.
How does taping my mouth shut at night help with better sleep?
There are several ways mouth taping helps improve sleep quality. Most of these ways stem from the increased ability to breathe through your nose. Here’s the details behind why mouth taping works:
1. Nitric oxide production
Nitric oxide is a naturally occurring molecule in our bodies that plays a huge role in blood vessel dilation. This allows the oxygen you’re breathing to actually reach your bloodstream.
Breathing through your nose is one of the only ways to get adequate nitric oxide.
By taping your mouth shut at night, you force yourself to breathe through your nose. Since our sleep is such an intense healing process as it is, increasing your nitric oxide production during this time is especially beneficial!
2. Parasympathetic state
Simply put, your parasympathetic state is your “rest and digest” state. Your sympathetic state, on the other hand, is “fight or flight.”
Nose breathing is one of the most effective ways to activate your parasympathetic nervous system.
It’s so effective that it’s one of the most crucial aspects of yoga and meditation, specifically breath-work such as alternate nostril breathing.
Mouth taping forces nose breathing, ensuring you stay in that parasympathetic state all night. It can decrease cortisol spikes during sleeping, so you’ll sleep through the night.
3. Deeper sleep
Another benefit of mouth taping is more time spent in deep sleep, and better cycling of your sleep phases.
Proponents of mouth taping often report more vivid dreams, an indication of improved REM sleep. Staying in a parasympathetic state courtesy of mouth taping can drastically improve your sleep phase cycling.
Mouth taping offers other benefits than improved sleep quality. Check out these additional reasons to tape your mouth shut!
- No morning breath
Mouth breathing introduces oxygen into your mouth, bypassing the protective filtering system of our nasal passages. This means your air isn’t ‘filtered’ for potential pathogens, of course–but it also dries out your mouth, causing bad breath.
If you wake up with your mouth feeling dry and icky, try this trick.
- Reduced cavities and gum disease
As mentioned above, mouth breathing can dry out your mouth. Dry mouth is a leading cause of cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. Mouth taping will ensure you’re not breathing through your mouth all night, keeping dry mouth at bay.
- Improved gut and immune health
Dry mouth can mess with your gut microbiome. Studies show a close relationship between your oral microbiome and your gut microbiome.
Gut health begins in your mouth, and overall health stems from your gut! Protect your gut and your immune system health by keeping a healthy oral microbiome. Preventing dry mouth via mouth taping is one way to do so.
- No teeth grinding
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can be related to sleep apnea. There’s speculation that teeth grinding is a mechanism developed by the body in the presence of decreased oxygen.
Try this hack to improve your ability to breathe fully through your nose.
- No drooling
Ever wake up with a puddle on your pillow? That’s caused by sleeping–and breathing–with your mouth open. Taping your mouth shut while you sleep helps prevent drooling!
How do I do Mouth Taping?
- Grab your tape or strip. You may want to do a practice run with placing a small amount of tape somewhere on your face or neck to test for skin sensitivity. After all, it’s better to have a small irritated patch on your cheek than an irritated mouth.
- Make sure your lips are clean without any oil or product on them. To further reduce risk of irritation, roll your lips in a bit, then afix the tape/strip over them.
You want the tape to be loose enough not to pull at your skin, but tight enough not to allow much airflow. Some people fold the ends of the tape to form a tab for easy removal.
Taping is typically horizontally across the entire surface of your lips, but you can also afix a small amount vertically over the center.
Applying the tape vertically may be less scary, but keep in mind that because it’s not closing your mouth entirely, it won’t completely cut off air flow ability.
- When it’s time to remove your mouth tape, do so slowly. Especially if you’re not using a specially designed strip.
Remove any residue with water and/or facial toner. Discard your tape or strip after use; it’s best not to re-use these, to ensure efficacy and sanitation.
If you wake up and your strip is nowhere to be found, don’t fret. Removing the tape or strip in your sleep is pretty common as you adjust.
Sometimes, you may even wake up to remove it. Eventually, you’ll become accustomed and will sleep through the night as a nose breather!
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