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Can mouth taping really improve your sleep? The science behind the TikTok trend

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Summary: Mouth taping is gaining popularity for its sleep benefits. Find out how it works and why you should try it.

Snory, scratchy, thirsty, grumpy, sleepy… These may sound like five of the seven dwarfs; however, they’re anything but. Rather, they’re what you may experience at night as a mouth breather.

Now, while that may sound like something out of Game of Thrones (and trust us, it’s not), it’s the habit of breathing through your mouth that can disrupt a good night’s rest. And when your quality of sleep gets disrupted too frequently, it can lead to health problems. 

Recently, mouth taping has made its way onto the TikTok trend list as a promise to solve such issues. But before you reach for the tape, let’s explore the fascination behind this trend and, more importantly, if it really works.

What is mouth taping?

Though slightly odd-looking, mouth taping is exactly what it sounds like—using surgical tape to keep your mouth closed while you sleep. The idea is to encourage nasal breathing, which can apparently help you get more deep sleep.

It’s not something new. In fact, it’s a concept that’s been around for years but has gained mainstream attention, thanks to James Nestor, who highlights the technique in his book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art.

All you need is a teeny piece of tape,” he says in a podcast interview with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, showing a strip the size of a postage stamp. “And I put it right across my lips. I can still talk to you. I can still breathe from my mouth if I want to, but it just reminds me when I’m unconscious to keep my jaw shut.”

The idea is, when your mouth is closed, your body goes into nasal breathing. In an interview with Verify, Dr. Michael Breus, a pioneer in sleep studies and trainer of Mindvalley’s The Mastery of Sleep Quest, explains that the nose is equipped with turbinates that humidify, filter, and warm the air breathed in. “So you get clean, moist, warm air into your lungs, which makes it easier for your lungs to perfuse oxygen.”

However, when air is breathed in through the mouth, it could lead to potential issues like dry mouth and disrupted sleep.

Mouth taping benefits

There are people who use mouth tape who claim that it’s helped them with health problems associated with mouth breathing. That includes snoring, bad breath, a dry mouth or sore throat, and teeth grinding, to name a few.

One such person is Ali Abdaal, a junior doctor working in Cambridge, U.K., who experimented with this technique for 30 days. In a video on his YouTube channel, he explains that he felt his mouth was a lot less dry and had “woken up in the morning feeling genuinely refreshed.”

While research is still ongoing, one study looked into how mouth taping could help with mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in those who are mouth breathers. It found that sealing the mouth with hypoallergenic tape during sleep significantly improved their condition—the apnea/hypopnea index and the snoring index both decreased by about 50%.

The thing is, mouth breathing has been linked to various health issues, like the misalignment of teeth, dry mouth, reduced saliva production, increasing the risk of tooth decay, as well as negatively affecting lung function and respiratory muscle activity. What’s more, for children who breathe through their mouths, it can affect their growth and development.

So, while mouth taping may seem like a farfetched idea, it could potentially help mouth breathers breathe through their noses. With that being said, it’s important to note that if you are suffering from any sleep disturbances, such as sleep apnea or nasal congestion, it’s best to consult your doctor.

Mouth taping: before and after

This biohacking technique is sweeping TikTok, so let’s go over to the social media platform and see what some people are saying about their mouth taping results.

Maybelle Morgan (@refinery29)

  • Before:Day 1. It definitely takes getting used to. The stretchy fabric actually didn’t feel too claustrophobic. I slept so badly, though. Maybe I’m just getting used to it.”
  • After: So I love it. I normally grind my teeth in my sleep and wake up with a sore jaw, but that stopped. I don’t know if it’s a placebo, but I didn’t wake up in the night like I usually do, so I’ve been feeling less tired in the mornings. Verdict? I’m obsessed.”

Dr. Daniel Barrett (@barrettplasticsurgery)

  • Before:I started taping my mouth shut after I read a book called Breath by James Nestor, and it talks about all the benefits of breathing through your nose versus breathing through your mouth.”
  • After:I’m a mouth breather. I hate to admit it, but I am… I tried to get like a little harness to kinda keep my mouth shut, but I found that tape works the best and I saw a lot of improved benefits. I slept better.”

Sydney Liang (@sliang95

  • Before:This is Tom, my boyfriend, and he’s sleeping. He’s a chronic mouth sleeper. But then, because of TikTok, we found out that, like, mouth sleeping can, like, change your face.”
  • After:So when we got back from China, which was at the end of September, we finally did it. We tried mouth taping. Tom’s been taping his mouth every single night since then, and this is the result. It’s actually a huge difference. Looks so different.”

Lauryn Evarts Bosstick (@tscpodcast)

  • Before:When I read the book Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life…I became obsessed with [mouth taping] and I started doing it every single night for the last eight months.”
  • After:My jawline feels more where it should be and more strong and strengthened and supported from the mouth tape. Like, the mouth tape has taught me to breathe through my nose, which has supported the jaw, which has almost gotten rid of any sort of, like, double chin.”

Kendahl Landreth (@hwhlpodcast)

  • Before: The first time I mouth taped, I’d read a lot of information online that was like, mouth tape’s great. But then, of course, there’s a couple people that are like, ‘Be careful because if you have a deviated septum’—which I don’t—they were like, ‘if you do have a deviated septum, you will not get enough oxygen to your brain while you sleep. It could deeply affect you or cause a stroke.’ So just the thought of that scared me so bad that the first night I tried mouth tape, I could not breathe because I was panicking.”
  • After: My quality of sleep has been a little bit better.”

Again, it’s important to remember that this is no one-size-fits-all solution. While some doctors are out there promoting mouth taping for sleep (with caution, of course), there are others who are against it entirely. 

If you are interested in trying it, it’s always advisable to consult your doctor first.

Is it safe or dangerous?

As with all trends on the internet, the main question that arises is, “Is mouth taping dangerous?” The bottom line is, taping your mouth can indeed be safe. 

With that being said, it’s important to follow proper guidelines and take precautions.

Potential risks:

  • Undiagnosed sleep apnea. If you have this sleep disorder, there’s a chance you might worsen the condition by obstructing your breathing further. Always rule out sleep apnea before starting.
  • Skin irritation. The lips are sensitive areas, so using the wrong type of tape or applying it improperly can cause skin irritation.
  • Anxiety. Some people, like Kendahl from the HWHL Podcast, may feel anxious with their mouths taped shut. If anxiety gets the best of you, discontinue immediately.

Safety tips:

  • Consult a doctor, especially if you have existing health conditions.
  • Use the right tape, like those that are micropore or medical tape. Avoid using tapes like duct tape or masking tape.
  • Proper application. As James explains in his interview with Dr. Chatterjee, a small vertical strip is all you need. Place it in the center of your lips, allowing some airflow if needed. Avoid horizontal taping, which can be more restrictive.

BONUS: Alternative sleep hacks

If mouth taping isn’t for you, don’t worry—there are plenty of other ways to improve your sleep quality. Here are some alternative sleep hacks Dr. Breus shares on his Mindvalley Quest for you to consider:

  • Exercising regularly can enhance your sleep quality by reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene. This includes winding down activities like reading, meditating, or taking a warm bath. Also, keep your sleep environment cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Using breathing techniques like deep breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, or the 4-7-8 method can help calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine and alcohol several hours before bedtime, as they can disrupt your sleep patterns and reduce sleep quality.
  • Take a power nap during the day. A 10- to 20-minute mini-snooze is all you need to recharge your energy levels. Just make sure you do it earlier in the day so it doesn’t interfere with your regular sleep cycle.
A man sleeping

FAQ

What kind of tape should I use for mouth taping?

You may find that some TikTokers are using masking tape, some high-level sticky tape, or adhesive that’s specifically created for mouth taping. However, this isn’t highly recommended.

The thing is, the skin around your mouth and your lips are thin and sensitive. So choosing the right tape can help you avoid possible skin irritation and discomfort.

Go for medical-grade micropore tape, a.k.a. surgical tape. It’s designed to be gentle on your skin and easy to remove.

Does mouth taping really work for sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. And that can lead to various health issues. So taping your mouth shut can mask the symptoms of sleep apnea and potentially worsen the condition.

If you have sleep apnea, mouth taping is a terrible, terrible idea,” warns Dr. Breus. “The only way to know if you have sleep apnea is to talk with your doctor and have a home sleep study or a sleep study done.”

Can mouth taping help with snoring?

Yes, it’s possible that mouth taping can help reduce snoring for some people. When your mouth is closed, it minimizes the vibrations in the throat that cause you to sound like a freight train in your slumber. 

However, according to Dr. Breus, it’s important to address any underlying nasal congestion before you think about putting anything sticky on your lips.

Quite a few people have nasal congestion and when their nose is stuffed up, their mouth naturally drops open in order for air to come in,” he explains. “The very first thing I tell people is, before you start taping your mouth shut, the first thing you need to do is look at nasal congestion. If you’ve got nasal congestion, solve that problem first.”

Plus, if your nose is blocked, mouth taping will be uncomfortable and ineffective. Clear your nasal passages before taping your mouth for the best results.

Futureproof your well-being

Mouth taping is just one of the many sleep hacks that can help level up your overall well-being. But if you want to dive deeper into the science of sleep, you can join Mindvalley’s The Mastery of Sleep Quest with Dr. Michael Breus.

This program is tailored to your unique sleep needs, helping you identify your ideal bedtime, understand how many hours of sleep you really need, and learn to reprogram your mind and body for uninterrupted sleep. 

Sign up for a free account to gain access to quest previews. Plus, be the first to know about the best offers and happenings at Mindvalley.

No longer will you be snory, scratchy, thirsty, grumpy, or sleepy. Nor will you struggle the struggles of a mouth breather.

As Dr. Breus has been known to say, “I believe that the world would be a better place if everybody slept better.” And you can learn how to, too—it’s just a click away.

Welcome in.

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Written by

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Picture of Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Dr. Michael Breus, known as America’s most trusted Sleep Doctor, is a best-selling author and a pioneer in sleep studies.
Expertise by

Dr. Michael Breus, known as America’s most trusted Sleep Doctor, is a best-selling author and a pioneer in sleep studies.

At just 31, he became one of the youngest to pass the American Board of Sleep Medicine and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a distinction held by only 168 psychologists worldwide. His fascination with sleep began during his psychology residency, shaping his career to focus on how sleep affects overall well-being.

Regularly featured on The Dr. Oz Show and in major publications like The New York Times, Dr. Breus now dedicates himself to improving health, emotional well-being, and performance through the science of restful sleep.

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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.

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Fact-Checking: Our Process

Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. 

We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. 

The Mindvalley fact-checking guidelines are based on:

To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.