Another day, another outrageous sleeping hack. If you’re like me and can’t instantly fall asleep at night you’re probably always on the lookout for sleeping hacks. However, I don’t know how I feel about taping my mouth before I fall asleep, even if it does health benefits. But, according to a neuropsychologist taping your mouth shut at night might be better for your health.

Apparently up to half of all adults breathe through their mouths. Most people do this because their noses are blocked or restricted, but mouth breathing was not nature’s intention and can actually have a negative impact on your health.

Why mouth breathing could be impacting your health

“It’s very simple: noses are made for breathing, and mouths are made for eating, with air inhaled through the nose warmer, humidified, and filtered making it better for your overall health,” Dr. Elisabeth Honinx says.

“When you inhale through your nose, the mucous membranes and hairs in the nose are able to trap particles and help to prevent allergic reactions. Nose breathing also produces nitric oxide which relaxes the walls of blood vessels, helping to increase blood flow in the lungs and increase the amount of oxygen passing through your body.”

In contrast, mouth breathers have to compensate for their inefficient breathing with a higher-than-average respiratory rate and volume to help get enough oxygen to their cells and organs which can lead to a myriad of other health problems:

  • Dry mouth – Mouth breathing can cause the mouth to become dry by reducing saliva production which can lead to bad breath, tooth misalignment and even tooth decay.

  • Respiratory problems – Mouth breathing can cause the throat to become dry and inflamed, leading to respiratory problems such as sinusitis and bronchitis. Some studies have also shown that chronic mouth breathing can lead to sleep apnea which has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular issues, diabetes and even premature death.

  • Poor sleep – Mouth breathing can disrupt sleep through snoring or discomfort, leading to poor sleep quality and daytime fatigue for you and any partners.

Why taping your mouth can help

Mouth taping is a technique that involves covering your mouth with tape or an adhesive patch while sleeping to help encourage nasal breathing. It’s natural to find nose breathing difficult to practise at the start, but once you get started it will be much easier to stick to the habit, and mouth-taping can help,” Honinx says.

She continues: It might take some time to get used to, so it’s best to be safe and test it for a short period since it might cause discomfort or slight panic when you start.”

Start by taking short naps using mouth tape to help yourself get used to the sensation – you could even set your alarm slightly earlier and have a doze while taped up.

Then, once you feel comfortable you can progress to wearing tape overnight. Practising how to breathe through your nose during the day can also help, with Dr. Honinx recommending daily breathing exercises to help you make it a habit.

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