Taping your way to a better night sleep? Experts say don’t do it

A person in a dark room sleeping with a blanket pulled tight around them.

You may have seen a video on social media about mouth taping or heard about a friend of a friend who tried it and now sleeps like a baby. But what exactly is it? Is it safe and does it really work? We asked Dr. Sonal Malhotra, assistant professor of pediatrics – pulmonary and sleep medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, more about this sleep trend.

Question: What is mouth taping?  

Answer: Mouth taping is exactly what it sounds like. It is the idea of taping your mouth closed while you sleep to improve nasal breathing, reduce bad breath and prevent snoring.

Q: Why should you do it? Is there a benefit?

A: There are limited studies on mouth taping with conflicting results. There is not strong enough evidence to support mouth taping at this time, and the risks outweigh the benefits.

Q: What are the benefits of breathing through your nose rather than your mouth?

A: Our bodies are naturally designed to breathe through our noses rather than through our mouths. Nasal breathing has benefits, such as filtering and warming the air we breathe as it moves along the nasal lining. When you breathe through your mouth, you bypass this filtration process.

Q: Is mouth taping dangerous?

A: Mouth taping can cause anxiety, claustrophobia, skin irritation and allergic reactions to the tape.

Q: Do you need to use a specific type of tape?

A: Mouth taping is not recommended, especially with non-porous tape such as duct tape.

Q: How can mouth taping improve your overall sleep?

A: Anecdotally, it can help eliminate snoring and help patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea. Eliminating snoring allows for quieter and more restful sleep. Since mouth taping is still not recommended, we suggest alternatives such as using nasal decongestants, nasal strips, side sleeping, treating allergies and optimizing sleep hygiene to promote good sleep.

Q: Should people with chronic breathing diseases do it? Will it be dangerous for them? 

A: Those with chronic breathing disorders should not try mouth taping. It is not a common practice, and there are currently no official guidelines outlining how to tape your mouth safely.

Q: Can you do it if you use a CPAP machine?

A: Patients using PAP devices often breathe through their mouths, which can cause air leaks and dry mouth. We recommend using nasal decongestants to clear the nasal passageways, humidifying your PAP device and/or wearing a chin strap rather than mouth tape to help decrease an air leak.

Learn about the Sleep Medicine Center at Baylor Medicine

By Anna Kiappes

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