t sounds a little unorthodox, but there might be a way to cure your snoring, bad breath, and even improve your bone structure, with a simple piece of medical tape. You just have to put it over your mouth when you sleep like you’re trapped in a kidnapper’s trunk. Sounds relaxing, no?
Wellness entrepreneur and Bulletproof Coffee bro Dave Asprey calls it “one of the most effective biohacks there is.” By improving your sleep with a little piece of tape, Asprey argues that you decelerate the aging process overall.
Huberman Lab podcast host Andrew Huberman, agrees that mouth tape is worth the hype. As the Stanford University neuroscientist explains, most of the benefits of taping your mouth shut come down to reducing the damage of being a mouth-breather.
“It’s not good to be a mouth breather,” Huberman said on a recent Huberman Lab podcast. Huberman explains how breathing delivers oxygen and carbon dioxide to the cells and tissues of the body. Proper breathing creates the right balance of the two, which can affect mood, reduce psychological and physiological stress, and more.
Airway-focused functional dentist Staci Whitman, DMD, IFMCP, NMD, IBDM, CIHC, agrees that the biggest benefit of mouth taping for sleep involves changing your breathing habits.
What is Mouth Taping?
Mouth taping involves placing a porous adhesive over your lips to keep your mouth shut at night. This promotes nasal breathing, which could help break your mouth breathing habit.
Huberman cautions that medical-grade tape should be used. Mouth tape is made of porous material instead of the dense plastic materials found in duct, packing, or scotch tapes. Use a porous tape intended for use on human skin to avoid skin irritation or an allergic reaction, per the Sleep Foundation. The point isn’t to cut off your breathing, hostage-style. Instead, mouth taping with a porous tape encourages—not forces—nasal breathing.
Benefits of Mouth Tape For Sleep
Hashtag #mouthtaping has amassed over 125 million views, with users reporting that sealing their lips closed at night has improved bad breath and even changed their face shape. While many of these flashy, anecdotal benefits are yet to be studied in depth, there’s some evidence that the impact on sleep is very real.
Humans are obligate nasal breathers; we are meant to breathe through our noses, per Whitman. But unfortunately, many of us didn’t get the memo. “Your mouth may pop open, leading to mouth breathing, snoring, or even worse, conditions like sleep apnea” says Whitman.
Why is nose breathing so important?
“We can receive up to 20 percent more oxygen through our nose,” Whitman says. “Taping your mouth shut ensures nasal breathing, which increases oxygenation in your body.”
“The nose plays a crucial role in warming, filtering, and humidifying the air,” Whitman explains. “It also offers immune benefits in the sinuses and releases nitric oxide, important for cardiovascular and immune health. Therefore, breathing through our noses is essential for overall health.”
Breathing through your schnoz also keeps you in a “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system state instead of the fight-or-flight sympathetic state, Whitman says. “This allows you to enter deep non-REM sleep, specifically the N3 sleep stage, which is essential for brain cleansing, hormone release, and overall mental clarity and focus.” And, if you didn’t get the memo,getting enough deep sleep is crucial to your overall well-being.
Is It Safe to Tape Your Mouth Before Sleeping?
The fear of not being able to breathe at night is a commonly reported hesitation for people otherwise interested in mouth taping. However, Whitman notes that mouth taping for sleep is “generally safe.”
“Essentially, it’s no different from naturally keeping your lips sealed together while you sleep,” says Whitman.
While side effects aren’t common, some mouth tapers may experience some skin irritation or anxiety according to the Sleep Foundation.
Is Mouth Taping Right for You?
Before you try mouth taping, there’s an easy assessment—dubbed the “lip seal test”—that you can perform at home to check if you’re a good candidate.
Just set a timer for three to four minutes and try to breathe through your nose, Whitman instructs. If you can keep it up without panicking, you’re in the clear to try out mouth taping.
Who isn’t a good candidate
If you have difficulty breathing through your nose due to allergies, septum deviation, or nasal polyps, you should avoid mouth taping, according to the Sleep Foundation.
If you have sleep apnea—a potentially deadly sleep disorder in which your breathing periodically stops and starts throughout the night—Whitman says that you should get cleared by your doctor before trying mouth taping.
Does mouth tape work for sleep apnea?
There’s tons of anecdotal evidence on mouth taping for treating sleep apnea, but the research is mixed. In a small 2022 study of 20 mouth-breathers with mild sleep apnea who used mouth tape, 13 participants snored less intensely compared to nights when they didn’t apply the tape (1). Another 2022 study on the effectiveness of mouth taping for sleep apnea found that most of the participants “mouth-puffed”—meaning they still breathed through the porous tape (2). And the tape didn’t stop sleep apnea episodes.
That said, many specialists actually recommend mouth taping in conjunction with using a CPAP machine to improve breathing.
“Keeping your lips closed, especially in cases involving jaw or orthodontic issues, or low muscle tone, [mouth taping] can enhance the effectiveness of the CPAP,” says Whitman.
How Long Does Mouth Taping Take to Work?
The best part of mouth taping for sleep: you’ll notice results almost immediately.
“After the first night of using mouth tape, patients often wake up feeling like a completely new person—more rested, alert, without the brain fog and lethargy,” Whitman says. “This improvement is especially noticeable when using sleep monitoring devices like an Apple Watch or an Oura Ring.”
Take heart if you don’t feel like a million bucks after one night. It could take a few weeks before you start to develop the habit of breathing through your nose without the tape.
Best Mouth Tapes for Sleep
Passed the lip seal test? We’re taking the guesswork out of picking the best mouth tape for sleep. Try one of these top rated options: