The Mouth Taping Trend Meant to Improve Sleep
As I was scrolling through the news headlines this morning, I came across one talking about the trend toward mouth taping, particularly among TikTok users. I most certainly fell for that clickbait, and I’m not quite certain that I’m glad I did. However, now that I’ve fallen down that rabbit hole, I’m fascinated by it and thought I’d take the chance to share.
What is Mouth Taping?
Mouth taping is a new trend to try to get better sleep – and even prevent snoring – that seems to have become popular nearly exclusively to TikTok. I haven’t seen it anywhere other than in the articles I researched after spotting the headline, but I’m not on that video platform, so that might help to explain it.
To begin, as horrifying as it sounds, mouth taping is exactly what it implies. It has to do with using skin-safe tape and taping the mouth shut so that the individual is forced to breathe through their nose while sleeping. It’s very loosely based on a study published in the Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery journal.
What’s the Point?
According to those who recommend mouth taping, forcing someone to breath through their nose means they don’t suffer from the negative impacts of breathing through their mouths. Those can include:
- Gum disease
- Yellow teeth
- Sleep-disordered breathing
- Dry mouth
- Poor cognitive function
- Poor quality REM sleep
Does Mouth Taping Work?
Though people on TikTok seem to only sing its praises, there isn’t much reliable data to support the claims made about the technique. Moreover, doctors are cautioning people against the practice. There are several reasons for this, which include the following.
- Even skin-safe tape can be damaging to the thin and sensitive skin of the lips.
- Reducing breathing capacity while sleeping can pose a range of risks, particularly if the nose starts getting partly or entirely blocked due to allergies, a cold, or other factors. Moreover, the sleeper might not even know it’s happening until enough damage has occurred to cause symptoms.
- Tape on the mouth increases the risk of choking or suffocating during the night.
- Suffocation or choking risk increases in the case of illness leading to gastroesophageal reflux or vomiting.
Preferable Alternatives that Improve Sleep Quality
I’ve talked about this before, but there are many things I do to improve the quality of my own sleep. Here are a few, though I have written about this regularly, so please have a look at my better sleep tips post and the many others in the sleep category on this blog.
If you want to get a better sleep at night, consider the following very helpful habits with a tremendous amount more research behind them than mouth taping.
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Get up at the same time every morning
- Sleep in a cool, dark, quiet bedroom
- Limit napping during the daytime
- Put your electronics away at least a half hour before bed, but hopefully longer
- Practice stress control
- Exercise during the daytime
- Give caffeine at least 5 hours to wear off before bedtime
- Eat foods rich in melatonin such as nuts or fish and support this effort with a sleep aid with melatonin when needed.