Waking up feeling refreshed can be elusive for us who breathe through our mouths. Unfortunately, we tend to face the not-so-pretty reality of rolling out of bed with issues like dry mouth and scratchy throat, chapped lips, and drowsiness that can follow us into the afternoon. This is because your mouth cannot filter and moisten the air like your nose does, so sleeping with a soft jaw can dehydrate and irritate your mouth and throat. It can also obstruct your upper airwayswhich can cause snoring, wake you up all night, and generally decrease your quality of rest– oh, and not to mention that it could also lead to tooth decay or gum disease.
Needless to say, when a Trending TikTok promised to correct my way of breathing and sleeping at night – without going to the doctor – I was intrigued. It’s called mouth tape, and that’s exactly what it sounds like: apply a piece of tape (preferably the surgical type, which is kinder to the skin) over your mouth before you go to bed, and voila: no more snoring. No more dry mouth (or its associated bad breath). No more pillow slobber (the likely culprit behind those cracked lips I talked about). The idea is that if your mouth is physically forced shut, you will automatically breathe through your nose, which is the body’s default mode.
« The nose is the humidifier of the body » Megan Acho, MD, assistant clinical professor in the division of pulmonary and critical care at the University of Michigan, tells SELF. “So we encourage nose breathing rather than mouth breathing, because as the air passes through the nose it is moistened and warmed, and filtered of dust and [other [potential] allergens too. Basically, breathing through your nose is overall ideal, and if you can’t do it comfortably, that’s a sign that something may be blocking your nasal airway.
Either way, mouth recording sounds easy enough and, frankly, a bit too good to be true. Could my lifelong sleeping problems really be solved with a $5 drugstore product? To find out, I asked two experts to comment on viral sleep hacking. The verdict? Duct tape is not the panacea that TikTok claims to be – and it can also be extremely dangerous.
Duct tape won’t solve your underlying sleep issues.
When someone breathes through their mouth while sleeping, it usually means something is blocking their nose, says Dr. Acho. This blockage can be caused by a variety of factors, including congestion from a sinus infection, a deviated septum (when the bone in your nasal cavity is off center), or obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing becomes sluggish. stops several times throughout the night. (at least five times per hour, as SELF has already reported).
Regardless of what’s causing you to breathe through your mouth, a piece of duct tape is unlikely to actually fix the problem, Erich Voigt, MD, the director of general otolaryngology and sleep at NYU Langone Health, tells SELF. « If someone is having trouble breathing through their nose for any reason, they need to address that issue directly, and blocking the mouth airway won’t help in the long run, » says Dr. Voigt, referring to the mouth. as a « band-aid effect ».