Despite the purported benefits, mouth taping is a risky way to get better sleep. Here’s why.

Beauty and wellness trends are a lot like unsolicited advice: plentiful, but only occasionally helpful. So it’s only fair to exercise a healthy dose of skepticism when considering the latest fad — be it red light therapy or biohacking. That’s why we’re breaking down a recent wellness obsession making its rounds on social media: mouth taping.

Maybe you’ve seen a few influencers hyping this practice on their platforms. After all, the topic has already garnered nearly 40 million views on TikTok. For the uninitiated (ahem, elder millennials and boomers not on TikTok), mouth taping is exactly what it sounds like. People tape their mouths closed before bed to promote nose breathing, claiming it has anti-aging benefits and can improve stress, anxiety, bad breath, and snoring, among other things. 

Read more: How to Reduce Snoring For Better Sleep 

Popular videos feature young men and women touting its benefits before demonstrating how to use the adhesive to seal their lips. The problem is that the majority of people making these claims aren’t doctors, sleep scientists, or psychologists — they’re just people with a large social media following. 

So in the name of due diligence, we’re exploring what doctors and professional organizations like the Sleep Foundation are saying about mouth taping, like whether there’s research to support its purported benefits and if it’s safe. 

Here’s everything you need to know about mouth taping. 


Why Is Everyone Talking About Mouth Taping?

Mouth taping became popular in 2022, thanks in large part to people posting about it on social media. The alleged benefits are plenty. Proponents argue that mouth taping has chiseled their jawline, improved their sleep, or boosted their immune system, so it’s easy to understand why the technique has gained steam. And unlike many beauty and wellness products and practices, this one is inexpensive — all you need is skin-specific tape.  

woman waking up in the morning

Photos courtesy of Pexels.

Read more: 7 Sleep Myths — Debunked


Are The Benefits Legitimate?

There aren’t many studies that support the purported benefits of mouth taping. However, research published in 2022 shows mouth taping may help people who struggle with sleep apnea, but the study was limited: Its sample size was small, it lacked a control group, and it didn’t explore long-term benefits. The study also conflicts with advice from some professionals and organizations who stress that mouth taping can be dangerous, particularly for people with sleep apnea.

A separate study explored whether mouth taping could benefit people with asthma, but the research showed that the practice had no effect. And according to the Sleep Foundation, there’s little research that demonstrates whether mouth taping can improve sleep. Right now, most claims are anecdotal. Additionally, some people who tape their mouths end up breathing out of the un-taped sides of their mouths anyway (known as mouth puffing).

That said, research does support nose breathing itself. Breathing through your nostrils instead of your mouth is beneficial. For instance, your nose has microscopic hair-like structures called cilia that help filter debris from air before it gets to your lungs. Your nose can also warm or cool the temperature of air. This is important because air that is too cold or too warm can be hard on your lungs. Cold winter air, for instance, can cause airways to constrict, making breathing more difficult. But even though mouth taping helps promote nose breathing, studies don’t show this method is the best way to go about achieving it. 

Read more: Sleep Quality Versus Sleep Quantity: What Matters More?


Are There Risks?

Yep. For starters, taping your mouth can interfere with your ability to take deep breaths, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Additionally, the tape can irritate the skin around your mouth, and the discomfort of wearing it may disrupt your sleep. 

Plus, if you struggle to breath through your nose, it may be worth exploring the issue with a doctor to determine if an underlying condition is the cause. For instance, nasal polyps and a deviated septum are two problems that can make breathing through your nose more difficult. Mouth taping isn’t a solution for these ailments — it could even make things worse.


Is Mouth Taping Worth Trying?

If you understand the risks and still want to try mouth taping, consider consulting your physician. Because like anything health-related, only your doctor — not an online influencer — can help you figure out what’s best.

woman sleeping with a pink sleep mask

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Read more: What is it Time For a Sleep Study?

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