Mouth Taping: Why You Should Talk To Your Doctor Before Trying The Viral Sleep Trend

With #mouthtaping garnering more than 63 million views on TikTok as of this writing, there's no denying that the app has sent the health trend into the stratosphere (per Everyday Health). However — much like the bucket hats and baggy jeans that young TikTok users are claiming as their own — mouth taping is, in fact, nothing new.

For years, researchers have been looking into the possible benefits of mouth taping, the practice of taping the mouth shut during sleep. And while many TikTok users boast that the simple act of forcing yourself to breathe through your nose can come with a slew of health benefits, including the improvement of snoring, science surrounding the matter has produced mixed results.

The idea of mouth taping is that, by forcing your mouth to remain closed, you have no choice but to breathe through the nose. Nose breathing is reported to have many potential benefits including the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which contributes to lower blood pressure and decreased anxiety, as well as the filtration of allergens, and the warming and humidifying of the breath — which, in turn, moisturizes the throat and lungs (per Cleveland Clinic). However, many people in the medical community warn that mouth taping may be unsafe, particularly in regard to the prevention of snoring.

Mouth taping and snoring

While mouth taping has been touted as a way to stop snoring, thus far, research into the method has produced mixed results. In a 2015 study published in Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, the bedmates of 30 people suspected to have sleep apnea reported that their partners' snoring slightly decreased with the use of mouth tape. In another 2022 study published in Sleep and Breathing, 13 of 20 participants had their snoring improved by mouth taping.

These results may seem promising, but with so little to go on, many health experts suggest that the small potential benefits are not worth the risk. Sleep specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta even went so far as to tell CNN that mouth taping is downright dangerous for people with obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that causes complete or partial collapse of the upper airway during sleep. That's because taping the mouth shut can make breathing even more difficult. In fact, a different 2022 study published in Sleep and Breathing found that most people with sleep apnea who used mouth tape exhibited "mouth puffing" — or trying to breathe through their mouth despite the tape in order to restore breathing after a period of suffocation.

Because of the potential dangers, and because obstructive sleep apnea can have dire health consequences when left untreated, mouth taping should not be used as an alternative to seeking treatment (per Everyday Health). While mouth taping may have benefits for some people, it's imperative that you speak with your doctor before trying the TikTok trend.