I recently had an annual check up and I was totally taken aback when my doctor asked if I suffered from sleep apnea. I asked why she thought this and she informed me that I had symptoms that appeared to be related to interrupted sleep. She recommended a sleep study but I wanted to rule out other causes before taking that step.
Through my research I discovered the impact mouth breathing has on sleep. The past few months I've woken up from severe dry throat and didn't know the cause. I also woke up frequently through the night and couldn't pin point the reason.
In doing this research about mouth breathing, I learned about taping the mouth for good sleep. Breathing is something we do all day, every day. You probably took 12-16 breathes just in the past minute but did you stop to observe if you breathed through your nose or mouth?
Although I'm generally a nose breather during the day, I noticed I wasn't breathing through my nose at night. Breathing through the mouth during sleep has resulted in various health problems. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with mouth taping; I found that it helps put me into relaxation mode as I ease into sleep, and it’s been helping me get deeper sleep.
The simplest way for me to test the impact of nose breathing during my sleep was to tape my mouth and force my body to breathe through my nose. I was nervous to try this life hack and wondered if I'd feel like I was suffocating if I tape my mouth shut all night.
I had some surgical tape at home (3 M Micropore tape) so I decided to give it a try...after taking some deep breaths and calming down my body :-)
**Disclaimer: It's important to use the right tools for mouth taping. Obviously you don't want to use duct tape or tape not intended for the body on your lips. You can use cloth surgical tape or actual tape made for mouth taping. A quick google search will give you many options to choose from. Always work with your doctor before you try anything like this, especially if you have sleep apnea.
The first night I was surprised the tape stayed on through the night and that I didn't feel like I was suffocating. I can't say the first night was great sleep because I was aware of the tape on my mouth but I still consider it a successful night since I wasn't as bothered by the tape as I thought I would be. The next night, I tried again and found that I slept better and again was not bothered by the tape on my mouth.
Mouth taping has its origins in something called the Buteyko Method, created by Russian doctor Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko, which studies the connection between the way we breathe and overall health. The practice largely focuses on “functional breathing,” or breathing in and out of the nose. Practitioners of the method claim that it improves a number of health issues, including anxiety, ADHD, insomnia, asthma, and more.
Here are some other great benefits from mouth breathing including:
1.) Better Sleep: Mouth taping for sleep may seem like a weird life hack, but getting a good night’s rest is so important to your wellbeing. When you nose breathe while sleeping, your body is able to relax, which is the key to maintaining deep sleep and successfully progressing through the stages of the sleep cycle. This is because the nose helps us maintain homeostasis by balancing the autonomic nervous system, protecting us from stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness, so you can wake up feeling strong and refreshed.
2.) Better Oral Health: One of the biggest benefits of nasal breathing is that it helps to prevent oral health problems. Mouth breathing quickly dries out your mouth, decreasing saliva production. Saliva is critical to washing away bacteria in our mouths and for neutralizing acid. Without it, the odds of incurring tooth decay and cavities increase. Additionally, dry mouth is one of the leading causes of gum disease, which can lead to other health issues such as heart disease. Keep your smile big and bright by mouth taping!
3.) Stops Snoring! Is your significant other constantly complaining that your mouth snoring habit keeps them up at night? Put a stop to it by mouth taping and let your partner sleep in peace. During sleep, the muscles in and around your mouth relax, causing your mouth to fall open. This results in your respiratory airway closing and ultimately causes the “mouth snores” that you may be unfortunately all too familiar with. And mouth snoring isn’t just bothersome -- it can also impact your health. It is often a precursor to sleep apnea, which is a serious sleep disorder that can lead to cardiovascular and cognitive disorders. Solve this annoying, and potentially dangerous, problem by mouth taping while you sleep.
4.) Boosts Your Immune System: Mouth taping provides your immune system with an extra layer of defense, as nose breathing gives your body its best chance at standing strong against disease and infection. The nose is our only organ that has the ability to “filter” the air we breathe, which contains lots of bad bacteria. Our noses produce nitric oxide, a vaso-dilating (widening of blood vessels) gas that kills bacteria in airborne particles, saving us from ingesting it.
By using mouth tape, you’ll also decrease your chance of catching a cold; the mucous membrane, which is responsible for killing germs, lines your nose and extends all the way down to the bronchi, directly entering your lungs. So if you are nose breathing at night thanks to mouth tape, when germs enter your nostrils they’ll get caught in the mucus and die, potentially saving you from days of sneezing, shivering and a runny nose.
5.) Lower's Your Blood Pressure: Having high blood pressure puts you at risk of heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the United States. Have you ever been told to take deep breaths when you are feeling stressed or anxious? That’s because our breathing is closely tied to our blood pressure. According to the CDC, one out of every three Americans has high blood pressure. Mouth taping while you sleep is one way to help control your blood pressure; the increased nitric oxide production that comes along with nose breathing reduces blood pressure by expanding your blood vessels and increasing the ability to transport oxygen throughout your body. In contrast, mouth breathing has actually been associated with high blood pressure, as it may result in low oxygen concentration in the blood.
6.) Leads to Better Mornings! Mouth taping reduces discomforts caused by mouth breathing such as dry mouth, sore throat, chapped lips, and nasal congestion. By nose breathing at night, you can start your day off on the right foot, and skip that Starbucks drive-thru.
As strange as mouth taping sounds, I'm happy I gave it a try and potentially avoiding the need for a CPAP machine in the future. I hope you'll look into it, talk to your doctor about it, and consider it for a good night's sleep.