I snore. For obvious reasons, I can’t be sure what it sounds like but I have a feeling my snoring sounds less like a softly purring kitten and more like an asthmatic guinea pig. My boo says it’s cute, but I suspect that this is one of those things that’s cute at first and then becomes profoundly irritating once you’re past the everything-you-do-is-perfect stage. I really want to be able to sleep well at night knowing that I’m not planting the seeds of relationship destruction. Some influencers say that you can cure snoring by taping your lips closed at night, and they also claim it’s good for your oral health. I’m down to try anything that looks kind of kinky and won’t kill me, but should I really tape my mouth shut while I’m sleeping?
The theory behind mouth taping is pretty simple, and might not be dangerous as it sounds if you’re perfectly healthy. “Mouth taping is an old-fashioned home remedy which is sometimes used to treat snoring, allergies and poor oral hygiene,” explains Chun Tang, a family physician in Manchester, UK, tells me. It is thought when the mouth is taped, the person will naturally start to breathe through their nose, Tang explains. Breathing through your nose can help to ease the symptoms of chronic lung diseases, like asthma, Tang says. Nose breathing also makes the air more humid, which increases oxygen intake and improves airflow, and it can lower the risk of throat and mouth infections, such as gum inflammation and tooth decay.
So, yes, actually, breathing through your nose is healthier than breathing through your mouth. Experts say you shouldn’t really use your mouth to breathe unless you’re doing strenuous exercise or your nasal passages are blocked. The thing is, Tang says, that covering the mouth does not automatically mean that we will be able to breathe through our noses. “Many people have health conditions that prevent them from breathing through their nose,” Tang says. The common cold can cause severe nasal congestion, for example, and if you have a medical condition like sleep apnea — which causes you to pause in breathing while you’re sleeping — that makes it harder to breathe through your nose, then taping your mouth closed can be dangerous.
“Not only can restricting our breathing during sleep result in sleep disruptions, but any obstruction of the mouth or airways is a suffocation risk,” Tang explains. I mean, you do the math, but it seems pretty obvious that if you have a hard time breathing through your nose, you probably shouldn’t tape your lips closed while you’re sleeping. Because, you know, no oxygen equals death.
Okay, but will it help with snoring? Tang says that there isn’t any clinical evidence that mouth taping will “cure” snoring, and it’s not shown to help asthma either. Simple lifestyle changes, such as practicing deep nasal breathing exercises, quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol and eating a balanced diet are much more effective — and medically proven — to help reduce heavy mouth breathing and snoring, says Tang. He does not condone mouth taping unless it’s recommended to you by a doctor. And, Tang says, if you are having a major snoring ish, you really should see a doctor because a snoring can be an indication that there’s an underlying health issue. “Don’t risk your health trying the latest trend,” Tang says.
Okay, but what if you’re healthy and a bit foolhardy like me and you’re probably going to try mouth taping anyways? “If you are going to try mouth taping, the tape must be porous,” Tang says. You can buy special mouth tape or you can use surgical tape. In other words, don’t try to make mouth taping sexy by using glittery electrical tape. Save that for date night.