Interrupted sleep had been playing havoc with Paul Adderley's life for 12 months. He would wake up about ten times throughout the night.
"You wake up with a really, really crusty dry mouth," Paul, from Sydney, says.
"I'd have a bottle by the side of the bed and every time I woke up I take a sip and wash my mouth, and then sort of drift off back to sleep.
"And then about half-an-hour later, I'd do exactly the same."
The lack of sleep was causing Paul to fall asleep at work and at home when he shouldn't have been.
Everything changed when Paul discovered mouth taping through an online search.
When he goes to bed, Paul places a small, 5 centimetre piece of breathable, hypo-allergenic tape over his mouth. By taping his mouth shut, he has to breath through the nose.
"Most of the time I keep it on and I just sleep through the night," Paul says.
Research published in the journal Healthcare found that there was more brain activation in nasal breathing than when breathing through the mouth.
Deep breathing techniques, like the Buteyko Method, which involves exercises to encourage nose breathing and control carbon dioxide levels in the body, gained popularity in the 1990s and 1950s.
It was controversial at the time as researchers claimed it helped reduce the reliance on medication for asthma sufferers, and the techniques are said to help with relaxation, managing stress and insomnia.
Lately, influencers on TikTok have been talking up the benefits of taping your mouth to encourage nose breathing.
Medical professionals however, warn that people need to exercise caution and that mouth taping will not work for those with sleep disorders and other medical issues.
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Spring time allergy relief?
The nose plays a critical role in filtering out allergens, according to clinical immunologist and allergist Connie Katelaris.
"The nose performs the important function of filtering, warming and humidifying the air to make it much more comfortable by the time it reaches a lower airway," Professor Katelaris says.
"The mouth doesn't do any filtering at all."
Spring is a particularly sensitive time for allergies as trees and grasses release pollen. It has also been a bad year for mould growth in the home, and the Bureau of Meteorology has officially forecast more wet and moist weather.
If someone is allergic to certain environmental allergens like dust mites and mould, breathing them in at night can lead to a bad sleep.
Professor Katelaris warns mouth taping would not assist people with allergic rhinitis or allergies in their nose that cause a blocked nose.
"If your nose is completely blocked, and you tape your mouth, how are you going to breathe?"
A distraction from health problems
People with sleep issues like sleep apnoea need to take more caution, sleep psychiatrist Chris Seton told ABC Radio Sydney.
Dr Seton, who works for the Woolcock Institute, says putting tape over the mouth of someone who snores can create breathing issues.
"I think if you have a bed partner who snores and stops breathing, you will worry about that," Dr Seton says.
People with the signs of sleep apnoea include loud snoring, breathing pauses and excessive daytime sleepiness.
For people who need treatment for sleep apnoea, taping your mouth could make the problem worse.
ABC Radio Sydney listener Rachel says she has a narrow nasal passageway and has snored since she was a child. She began to get bad migraines in her 40s.
After seeking medical advice from a sleep specialist, she discovered she needed to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine at night to deliver the oxygen to her body to get a good night's sleep.
"It was a massive wake up call to me that you can't just put a bandaid over," Rachel says.
Dr Seton says Rachel's narrow nasal passageway meant mouth taping would not help her sleep issues.
"If she taped her mouth, she would then have real problems because her sleep apnoea would get a lot worse because she wouldn't have [the] benefit of mouth breathing," Dr Seton said.
"Mouth breathing in sleep is a benefit when you need to do it."
Dr Seton says often people who benefit from mouth taping do not have sleep apnoea.
He recommends going to a general practitioner if you have symptoms.
"I accept that there'll be cases where people will use tape and get benefit out of it. But, you know, they're often people who don't have a medical problem in the first place," Dr Seton says.
This is general information only. For personal advice, you should see a qualified medical practitioner.
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