breath-why-I-tape-my-mouth-shut-at-night

Why I Tape My Mouth Shut At Night

Written By Adam Drake

7 min read

Did you know that 80% of us breathe wrong. When I first found out about this statistic I was shocked! How can this be? It’s a natural thing right? How can you breath wrong?

“The human body was designed so that breathing would be done through the nose and not through the mouth. The mouth is there for communicating and eating.”

I discovered this statistic from the very impactful book ‘Breath’ written by James Nestor. In this book he describes how 80% of people throughout their lives breath inefficiently with the main culprit being mouth breathing.

What is mouth Breathing?

The human body was designed so that breathing would be done through the nose and not through the mouth. The mouth is there for communicating and eating. Its not there for breathing! However, due to a multitude of reasons many people now breath partially or solely through their mouth and this has a whole range of consequences. Some of these consequences are mild but some are deadly serious. And I mean DEADLY!

Breathing through your mouth at all times, including when sleeping can lead to the following problems in adults:

  • Bad breath
  • Gum disease
  • Brain fog
  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnea
  • Heart related issues (Yes that is correct!)

In children chronic mouth breathing can lead to the following problems:

  • Crooked teeth
  • Facial deformities
  • Poor growth
  • Problems concentrating at school
  • Anxiety

Benefits of breathing through the nose

Your nose is designed for breathing and it helps you breathe safely and efficiently. It is full of nasal hair which helps filter out foreign particles such as dust and allergens.

It warms and moisturises the air that enters into your lungs which makes it easier for your lungs to use. Your nose also releases nitric oxide which helps to widen your blood vessels and this in turn improves the oxygen circulation in your body.

I was a chronic mouth breather

Ever since I can remember I have been told to ‘shut your mouth’. I was told this continually as a child and I always closed it in the moment but before long it was open again and I was again breathing through my mouth.

“I realised if friends and loved ones around me were noticing my mouth breathing then I must have been doing it quite a bit.”

No real solution was given to me and honestly as a child it was just accepted by myself and my parents. I mean surely breathing through your mouth wouldn’t cause any real problems right?

However, this habit (and I do mean habit) even remained into my adulthood. There would be occasional remarks from friends and even my wife would ask me sometimes if I realised I had my mouth open at certain points. I realised if friends and loved ones around me were noticing my mouth breathing then I must have been doing it quite a bit.

Well into my thirties (I guess better late than never!) I read ‘Breath’ by James Nestor and it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was one of those things that you know you should probably do something about but it wasn’t such a big deal right? But the more I listened to James’s book the more I realised how many issues I had been suffering from that could be related to my mouth breathing. I was in shock!

Trouble sleeping due to being ill

In my thirties I was having continual problems such as — sinus problems leading to dizziness, blocked ears, waking up with a blocked nose, infections in my nose that would lead to the need for antibiotics to remedy, snoring (which really annoyed my wife), waking up in the night due to a feeling of lack of breath. Could all these things be related to breathing through my mouth and not through my nose?

Why I started taping my mouth at night

I had so many realisations from James’s book that I knew I had to do something. I needed to address this problem once and for all. There was one solution James suggested that really stood out for me. That was to tape my mouth whilst I was sleeping.

“Wouldn’t I suffocate in the night? How would I take a drink? What if I don’t get enough oxygen through my nose and I just die quietly in my sleep?!”

When I first heard this I was pretty sceptical. Wouldn’t I suffocate in the night? How would I take a drink? What if I don’t get enough oxygen through my nose and I just die quietly in my sleep?!

However, there were some things about this solution that I really liked:

  • Easy to implement
  • Cheap (go have a look at other solutions to keep your mouth shut at night, they aren’t cheap!).
  • It didn’t require any medication
  • I could try right away

I had to give it a go…

How I tape my mouth shut

I followed James’s advise in this Youtube video on taping your mouth at night (The instructions are in the first two minutes of this video.)

“The idea is to take a small 1 inch x 1 inch piece of yellow weak tape and place it on your lips in the center of your mouth so they stay together throughout the night.”

The idea is to take a small 1 inch x 1 inch piece of yellow weak tape and place it on your lips in the center of your mouth so they stay together throughout the night. I do this just before I fall asleep every night and have been doing this for about 6 months now.

Sometimes the tape comes off in the night and sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t worry too much about this as I figure the main thing is I am doing this consistently so more often than not I am sleeping a good portion of the night with my mouth closed and breathing through my nose.

Benefits I have found from taping my mouth at night

Wow! This has been pretty revolutionary for me. The benefits I have noticed are:

  • I sleep more consistently through the night
  • I barely snore anymore (my wife is so happy!)
  • I wake up without a blocked nose even in times where I can feel it could become blocked
  • I am much more aware of my mouth being open in the day now so this has a knock on affect of me keeping my mouth closed in the day too
  • I rarely suffer from the severity of the sinus problems I did before

Conclusion

I have realised as I get older it is the small seemingly innocuous things that can have a real detriment to your quality of life over the long run. For me mouth breathing was definitely one of these things. By making some small change to your life (in this case it was taping my mouth closed at night) it can really turn things around in many other areas of your life.

By sleeping better I now wake up more fresh. I can be more present and active in the day. Therefore I perform better at my work, I am more likely to exercise, my mood is consistently better throughout the day and on and on and on. Just one little change has really improved my whole quality of life and for that I am deeply grateful.

Breath - James Nestor
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