man wearing a black strip of tape over his mouth
Lifestyle

I Hostage Taped My Mouth Shut While I Slept for a Month. Here’s What Happened

Are you a mouth breather? Here's your solution.

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You know it when you see it, but you miss it when you do it—breathing from your mouth is typically a subconscious habit that can happen day or night. You may fall into mouth breathing when concentrating, feeling anxious, or have a stuffy nose. Experts say nasal breathing should be your primary form of breathing, reserving mouth breathing for unique cases like working out, which is why a growing number of people are opting to tape their big gaping breathing holes closed at night. Yes, you read that right.

Companies like Hostage Tape are selling mouth tape to better your sleep and overall health. I decided to test it for a month to find out what the hype is all about. 

Why You Should Trust Us

Hone Health is a team of health-obsessed journalists, editors, fitness junkies, medical reviewers, and product testers. The author of this review wore Hostage Tape while sleeping for a month and logged any and all perceived benefits and downsides. She also spoke to two experts on the subject—Dr. Geoffrey B. Trenkle and registered nurse Lauren Thayer—and dove through academic research on the subject as well.

Hostage Tape Tape

Pros
  • Promotes nasal breathing
  • No dry, chapped lips
  • Less frequent trips to the bathroom
Cons
  • Takes some time to get on board mentally
  • Marks and redness after removing the tape
  • Another thing to add to your routine

Why Tape Your Mouth Shut While You Sleep?

“The root cause of mouth breathing often stems from childhood, and rewriting of the brain is needed,” Dr. Geoffrey B. Trenkle, D.O says. “Humans are obligate nasal breathers at night, but if the tonsils and adenoids fully obstruct the nasal airway in children it can lead to a change in the brain’s natural state. This leads to long-term mouth breathing, which continues in adulthood.”

Snoring, sleep apnea, and bad breath are a result of nighttime mouth breathing (1). Contrary to little-brother teasing culture, mouth breathing has nothing to do with intelligence. 

By contrast, nasal breathing has long been touted to be highly beneficial by Eastern (2) and Western medicine. It promotes increased oxygen intake, healthy nasal passageways, and allergen filtration (3). “Nasal breathing also helps maintain a correct balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood,” explains Dr. Trenkle.

Mouth tape can be intimidating. It definitely takes some getting used to, and it’s not for everyone (like if you have a deviated nasal septum or inferior turbinate hypertrophy).

“If you snore at night, you shouldn’t jump straight to mouth taping as a resolution,” advises Lauren Thayer, RN. “You should talk with your healthcare provider to ensure you do not have sleep apnea or some other condition leading to snoring.” In other words, do yourself a solid and make sure snoring isn’t caused by a serious underlying condition.

Research about mouth tape has shown positive results in reducing certain types of sleep apnea (4), and anecdotally, it’s been surprisingly helpful in sleeping more soundly. Here’s everything you need to know about mouth taping to decide if it’s right for you.

What Is Hostage Tape?

Hostage Tape has a humorously aggressive edge and offers multiple products to help people improve their sleep, with its mouth tape being its most popular product. Folks use mouth tape to encourage nasal breathing, prevent snoring, and improve deep sleep. 

Hostage Mouth Tape is flexible, breathable, and comfortable. It’s got a strong enough adhesive to secure your jaw closed and holds up around facial hair. Each piece is pre-cut, so there’s no fumbling with scissors at night. All of their tape is black, which pokes fun at the whole “hostage” look of wearing tape over your mouth, but it’s porous enough to let in air. “This means that while it encourages nasal breathing by gently sealing the lips, it still allows for some air passage through the mouth,” Dr. Trenkle says.

Hostage tape comes in a small resealable bag that fits well in a medicine cabinet or bedside table. To give mouth tape a try for one month, it’s about $25. From there, they offer subscription plans and yearly supplies.

woman with black hostage tape on her mouth throwing up a peace sign
The writer modeling Hostage Tape, which looks exactly like it sounds like. (Hone Health)

What’s Good About Hostage Tape?

Nasal breathing

The benefits of nasal breathing are no joke. It filters out allergens, improves lung resistance and volume, humidifies air that goes to the lungs, settles the nervous system, and boosts oxygen intake by 10-20 percent (5).

Nocturnal nasal breathing has been given the stamp of approval for those with sleep apnea that stems from anatomical issues (as opposed to neurological). The verdict is still out on non-disordered sleepers, but researchers suspect similar sleep quality benefits across the board (6). “I ask every patient coming to me for nasal obstruction what their goals are and often find sleep quality to be at the top of the list. Before I perform any surgery, I start with mouth tape,” says Dr. Trenkle.

No dry, chapped lips

Part of the issue with mouth breathing is that it’s horribly drying. Lips, gums, throat, tongue—it can take hours to truly rehydrate after waking up like the Sahara. 

With mouth tape, you bypass all of that harsh morning reality. I found my mouth to be a lot cleaner in the morning, and my breath wasn’t as pungent. I followed my routine of tongue scraping, brushing, and salt water gargling.

Less frequent trips to the bathroom

I’m one of those people who can’t go to sleep without water next to the bed. Sometimes, when I roll over in the middle of the night, I reach for a sip because I’m thirsty, yes, but mostly because my mouth is as dry as Spongebob visiting Sandy’s dome. “Mouth breathing can even lead to nocturia (waking up at night to urinate), which is a very common problem,” explains Dr. Trenkle.

With mouth tape, you simply can’t down a gallon of water in the middle of the night. Truthfully, you won’t even feel the need to. And for me, that means fewer trips to the bathroom, a rested brain, and a sounder sleep.

FUTURE SLEEP TECH

What’s Not Good About Hostage Tape?

Takes some time to get on board mentally

Will your brain question why the hell you’re removing one of your two main airways? Absolutely. Will you wake up and touch your mouth in a moment of panic? Possibly. You may play a mental game with yourself during the first few nights. It’s new. And depending on how comfortable you are with nasal breathing, it’s a little shocking to trust your nose with such a big task.

It’s vital to remember that Hostage Tape is porous, which means air can get through in the event it needs to. “The porosity ensures that in case of nasal obstruction or emergencies, mouth breathing is still possible, albeit to a limited extent, providing a balance between promoting nasal breathing and ensuring safety and comfort,” says Dr. Trenkle. But once your brain and body realize, “Hey, Nose is pretty good at this whole breathing thing,” you may be in for a quieter, deeper sleep. 

Some marks and redness after removing in the morning

Hostage Tape will not come off in the middle of the night. That’s one of the company’s main claims and why the brand is so popular amongst sleep hackers. It also means the stick is, well, sticky. I have sensitive skin, and in the morning, I found the tape left a red ring around my mouth for a while. So, you may need to consider giving yourself more time before leaving the house or rolling out of bed to that early morning Zoom.

I pay a lot of attention to my nervous system, and I also don’t like that one of the first things my body registers in the morning is pain, or at least discomfort. What I’m saying is the adhesive works both ways. It’s important to work the tape off slowly and with the skin, especially if you have facial hair. At first, I was keeping the area around my mouth skincare free before applying the tape. But for me, it’s easier to remove in the morning if I go ahead and lotion all of my skin as usual.

Another thing to add to your routine

Like anything, Hostage Tape is another thing to add to the bedtime routine. The compromise improved sleep quality, so it pays off. It’s also not the sexiest. I can’t imagine casually dating or being in a new relationship and slapping this on before bed. Of course, it does prevent snoring, so it may be the very thing that keeps the relationship afloat, at least in that sense, but you know. It doesn’t set any moods.

The Bottom Line

If you’re tired of snoring, morning breath, and dry mouth, I recommend trying Hostage Tape. It’s the best mouth tape on the sleep hacker market. Mouth taping is not for everyone, like those with nasal irregularities. It will take some getting used to, but once you’re over the hump, there is a good chance you’ll experience fewer sleep disturbances thanks to nasal breathing.

References