Mouth taping is exactly as it sounds- you gently place a piece of tape over your mouth, usually while you sleep. The purpose is to encourage nose breathing.
Nasal breathing is the body’s default mode and humidifier. Breathing through the nose means air gets humidified and warmed, filtered from dust and allergens, and it pressurizes the air so that the lungs can extract more oxygen. It also stimulates the nervous system to signal the body you are at ease.
Stress and anxiety can cause a person to breathe through their mouth and activate the sympathetic nervous system leading to shallow, rapid, and abnormal breathing. The Mayo Clinic states “Consistent or chronic mouth breathing, especially in children, is linked to slower growth, behavioral issues, dental and facial abnormalities.”
Besides being a stress response, breathing through the mouth has been studied for lowering the quality of your rest because:
- It’s dehydrating, which can allow bacteria to grow and it’s associated with bad breath, along with leading to a weakened immune system
- It can cause snoring
- It can lead to more adrenalin being released at night
- It’s put you at a higher risk for sleep disorders
Mouth taping likely won’t work for everyone, especially if you have underlying sleep problems like sleep apnea or blockages in the nasal cavity and not everyone is a fan of this practice. But often what started as a stress response becomes an unrecognized habit. You might also find that mouth-taping just for a few weeks is enough the help the mouth stay closed and the nose takes over.
If mouth-taping isn’t your thing, just learning to breathe through the nose still has its benefits. Further evidence suggests that nose breathing while exercising is the latest performance-enhancing hack.
During exercise, rapid mouth breathing may lead to excessive CO2 loss and hinder proper oxygen absorption. However, by training yourself to adopt calmer and more controlled breathing techniques during physical activity, you can ensure your body effectively absorbs the necessary oxygen. This approach also helps prevent a rapid increase in heart rate, enabling you to endure longer periods of exercise without experiencing breathlessness
Nasal breathing can be learned by starting with some daily nose breathing exercises and practicing this while exercising as much as possible. Mouth taping at night aids in this practice.
TiPS for mouth taping:
- Purchase tape meant for mouth breathing, a surgical type of tape that is gentler on the skin and comes off extremely easily.
- Start with one small piece of tape at an angle as you learn to breathe through the nose.
- You can move into a full X over the lips once you are comfortable.
- Try it during the day for a few minutes and work up to a bit longer before trying at night.