Waking up feeling refreshed may be elusive for us mouth-breathers. We, unfortunately, tend to deal with the not-so-nice reality of getting out of bed with problems such as dry mouth, sore throat, chapped lips and sleepiness that may follow us in the afternoon. That’s because your mouth can’t filter and moisten air the way your nose can, so tight sleep can cause dryness and irritation of the mouth and throat. It can also obstruct your upper airway, which can cause snoring, wake you up throughout the night, and generally reduce the quality of your rest—oh, not to mention, it can also lead to tooth decay or gum disease.
Needless to say, when a TikTok trend promised to fix the way I breathe and sleep at night — without going to the doctor — I was intrigued. This tape is called mouth tape, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: Place a piece of tape (preferably the surgical kind, which is gentler on the skin) over your mouth before bed, and voila: no more snoring. No more dry mouth (or associated bad breath). No more drooling (the possible culprit behind those chapped lips you mentioned). The idea is that if your mouth is physically forced shut, you will automatically breathe through your nose, which is the body’s default position.
“The nose is the body’s humidifier,” Megan Asho, MD, associate professor of medicine in the department of pulmonary and critical care at the University of Michigan, tells SELF. “So we encourage nasal breathing over mouth breathing because as air passes through the nose it is moistened and warmed, dust is filtered and [other [potential] Allergens too. Basically, breathing through your nose is generally ideal, and if you can’t comfortably do so, that’s a sign that something may be blocking your nasal airway.
Anyway, the mouth-to-mouth recording sounds easy enough and, frankly, sounds too good to be true. Could my sleep woes really be solved for life with a $5 drugstore product? To find out, I asked two experts to consider viral sleep hacks. verdict? Oral tape isn’t the cure — as TikTok claims it can be very unsafe.
A mouth plaster will not fix your underlying sleep problems.
When someone breathes through their mouth while sleeping, it usually means that something is blocking the nose, says Dr. Ako. This obstruction can be caused by a variety of factors, including congestion from sinusitis, a deviated septum (when the bone of the nasal cavity is off-center), or obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing stops repeatedly throughout the day. night (at least five times every hour, as SELF previously reported).
No matter what makes you breathe through your mouth, a piece of tape isn’t likely to solve that problem, Eric Voigt, MD, MD, sleep otolaryngologist at NYU Langone Health, tells SELF. “If someone is having difficulty breathing through their nose for any reason, they need to address that problem head-on, and blocking the airway in the mouth will not do any long-term benefit,” says Dr. Voigt, referring to mouth taping as “First Aid effect”.