The term mouth taping has been trending on TikTok over the last few months, with videos getting millions of views. But what’s it all about?
In this article I’m going to explore what mouth taping is, how it can supposedly help with sleep, and look at whether this latest health trend is safe.
What Is Mouth Taping?
As the name implies, mouth taping is quite literally putting tape across your mouth. Sounds proper seedy I know, but this isn’t some masochistic bondage thing, the tape is there to stop you breathing through your mouth while you sleep.
Right OK, but it begs the question, why? Well, apparently breathing through your mouth when you sleep isn’t so great for you. But if you’re one of life’s mouth breathers, it can be very difficult to change what you’ve always done. Hence, taking matters into your hands and literally sealing up your mouth, forcing your nose to do the breathing instead.
Sounds brutal I know, but it is supposedly meant to help with snoring, bad breath, teeth grinding, and other sleep related annoyances, and hence why people are trying out this strange trend.
Is Mouth Taping Safe?
The important question… is sealing up your mouth with tape a good idea? I mean, what if your nose gets blocked up in the middle of the night….? Or what if you need to cough, or you start choking on spit (or even worse, sick), then what? And aside from the potential risks, it can’t be comfortable.
As with most TikTok trends, very little research has been done into whether mouth taping is beneficial or not. Basically, someone somewhere was getting all kinds of annoyed at their mouth breathing partner, night after night of being kept awake by irritating huffing, puffing and grunting, that eventually something snapped and so they taped their partner’s mouth shut. OK, so I have absolutely no idea whether that’s true or not, I literally just made it up, but that’s kinda my point – just because it’s on TikTok doesn’t make it true!
Taping your mouth shut when you sleep could create some potentially nasty side effects too, such as:
- Irritation around the lips
- Breathing difficulties
- Panic attacks and anxiety
- Removal pain, especially if you have facial hair!
But if you’d still like to give it a go, here’s how…
What’s The Best Way To Do It?
I think it’s important to point out here, that if you are considering giving mouth taping a go, there are ‘safer’ ways to go about it. For example, don’t go using gaffer tape or duct tape or even bog standard sellotape, because that is neither comfortable nor safe. The best tape to use is porous surgical tape. This type of tape is gentle on the skin, meaning it won’t damage the skin when it is removed. Plus, it usually has a hypoallergenic adhesive, so the skin is far less likely to be irritated by it. Surgical tape also allows air to get through to the skin, so whilst you can’t breathe through it, your skin at least can.
A novice may mistakenly presume that the best way to tape up your mouth is to put a length of tape across the entire mouth. Aside from looking as though you’ve been taken hostage, this is not safe in the slightest. The best way to tape your mouth is to cut a small strip of surgical tape and stick it vertically running in line with your septum – that bit that separates your nostrils. By doing this, you kind of give yourself a white flag so to speak. If anything happens whilst you’re asleep that could result in you experiencing breathing difficulties as a result of having your mouth sealed, a small strip is far easily removed than a whole stretch of tape.
I know what you’re thinking, that a small strip of tape wouldn’t be enough to stop the mouth breathing. After all, if there are gaps at the sides then the breath is going to come out, right? But the thing is, the very act of placing tape on your mouth is enough to send the signal to your brain that because the mouth is obstructed it needs to find another exit point. The theory being, that you will then convert to breathing out of your nose.
So, Will It Stop My Snoring Or Not?
OK, so it sounds good in principle, but like I said, research on this is very thin on the ground. That being said, if you do tend to breathe through your mouth when you sleep, there is some logic in forcing your nose to do the breathing instead.
Think about when you have a cold, or if you’ve been drinking heavily, your nose gets blocked up and you are literally forced to breathe through your mouth when you sleep. I’m sure we all know that feeling when you wake up in the morning having slept with your mouth open all night. Your mouth is literally drier than the Sahara desert, you’ve got breath that could wipe out a whole town, and your throat feels like you’ve swallowed nails. It doesn’t feel nice. Mouth breathing in general isn’t great for us, it disrupts our oral microbiome, encourages snoring, and dehydrates – leading to the dry mouth and bad breath.
So, does mouth taping stop snoring? If you’re taping up your mouth, you’re basically left with little other choice than to breathe through your nose when sleeping and so therefore yes, you won’t snore. But I think it’s important to point out, that you’re not really solving the snoring problem, more sticking a giant band aid over it. Ultimately, you want to get to the bottom of why it is you’re snoring – could it be related to some other aspect of your health and if that is the case, then surely it is better to get to the root cause? If snoring is bothering you, whether it be your own snoring or your partner’s snoring, get it checked out with your GP to rule out any possible health problems.
Mouth taping… it’s a TikTok trend, what can we say. It’s super popular now, give it a few weeks and we’ll all be laughing about the fact we were persuaded to tape up our mouths before going to sleep each night. I can’t say I’d want to try it, but then that’s coming from someone who is a full-blown nose breather, so it’s easy for me to say. Give it a go if your snoring bothers you. Give it a go if you’ve tried other options that haven’t worked. Give it a go if you’re not likely to get freaked out about having your mouth taped shut. But if you are going to give it a go, make sure you do it safely.