“Mouth taping” at night is a TikTok trend being promoted to help get better sleep, but not everyone should try it, and you shouldn’t just use scotch tape.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults ages 18 to 60 get at least seven hours of sleep a night.
A TikTok trend has gone viral, claiming that one home remedy can help you get that amount of sleep without snoring — by taping your mouth shut. Not only can it help you stop snoring, but it’s also a solution for better oral health and helps with bad breath, say these TikTokers.
The VERIFY team investigated whether this is a real — and safe — sleep treatment.
Is “mouth tape” a real home remedy for sleep problems?
Yes, mouth tape is a real home remedy for treating some sleep-related issues. However, experts say there are some risks and more scientific studies are needed to confirm the practice’s purported benefits.
WHAT WE FOUND
Before we delve into the claims about the practice of taping in the mouth, let’s be clear – this is done with special tape for sleeping and not tapes like duct tape or duct tape.
In addition, you should consult your doctor before trying any new treatment. Don’t take medical advice from social media without getting confirmation from a doctor that it’s a good idea.
Mouth taping refers to the practice of taping your mouth shut with porous tape meant for use on your skin before going to sleep at night, says the Sleep Foundation, an organization that studies sleep health. This helps with snoring and could offer some other health benefits.
However, the Sleep Foundation says there aren’t many scientific studies on the effects of mouth tape, and many of the positive claims are anecdotal or based on personal accounts rather than fact or research.
Taping the mouth shut at bedtime encourages the person to breathe through their nose while they sleep. Taping on the mouth is nothing new and has been a more common practice for the past five to seven years, sleep specialist Michael Breus, Ph.D., told VERIFY.
“The reason people started taping on their mouths is because of this basic concept: your nose is for breathing and your mouth is for eating,” Breus told VERIFY.
“Why would anyone ever want to tape their mouth shut? It turns out that quite a few people experience nasal congestion. And of course, when her nose is stuffed up, her mouth pops open to allow air to flow in,” Breus said. “The very first thing I say to people is, before you start taping your mouth shut, the first thing you have to look at is nasal congestion. If you have a stuffy nose, solve this problem [before attempting mouth taping].”
People also need to figure out if they have undiagnosed sleep apnea before mouth taping, Breus told VERIFY. He said that mouth taping for sleep apnea is a “horrible, horrible idea” because sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed and mouth taping can actually mask your symptoms and make it harder to tell something is wrong.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include: snoring at night, daytime sleepiness, waking up with a headache, emotional ups and downs. All of these things are common, but when they come together, specialists suspect sleep apnea, Breus said.
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What should you do if you want to start mouth taping?
First, you should speak to a doctor to determine if you have undiagnosed sleep apnea and ask your doctor if they think this is the appropriate treatment for you. Then, if you don’t have sleep apnea, find the tape that’s right for you. Once you’ve done that, you need to know how to properly apply the tape.
There are brands that allow someone to cover their mouth horizontally over the upper and lower lip but are porous that still allow the flow of oxygen. But Breus recommended only placing the tape vertically and in the center of your mouth for better access to oxygen.
People who use mouth tape sleep better and deeper, Breus said. But that’s not the only benefit.
“Once you tape your mouth shut, your snoring usually goes away, which means your bed partner is quite happy about it. So that’s another area to consider. But oral health is also proving to be a big factor,” he said. “You keep your mouth greased. Sleeping with your mouth open dries out your mouth, this can affect your salivary glands, it can increase bacteria in your mouth and you can get bad breath. So there are many reasons to keep your mouth shut while you sleep.”
Breus says taping your mouth can come with some nasty side effects and potentially some real dangers. Some of these may include:
- Pain when removing the tape – especially if you have facial hair
- irritation on or around your lips
- Difficulty breathing – especially if you have a stuffy nose
Breus recommends these alternatives for better sleep if you’re not comfortable taping your mouth:
- Physical exercise can improve your sleep quality
- Breathing exercises to strengthen your lung capacity, lower your blood pressure and reduce sleep apnea symptoms
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed
- Before bed, decongest with a saline solution or neti pot
- Sleep on your side
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