March 24, 2023

Sleep experts are worried that people are going to die if the madness doesn’t stop.
Sleeping with a snorer can be tough. The grumbling, snorting sounds reverberate through your bedroom, causing you to toss and turn, wake up through the night, and maybe even worry that your bedmate has stopped breathing. When a

third of Americans don’t consistently get enough sleep, a snoring partner can be so frustrating that you might be tempted to tape their mouth shut.
Turns out some people are taping themselves, according to some viral TikTok #mouthtaping videos, which have been viewed more than 33 million times. The trend suggests that mouth taping can help people breathe better and snore less. But sleep experts say this approach is harmful.
With snoring so common—it’s estimated that 57 percent of men and 40 percent of women snore—you’re likely looking for a remedy. Mouth taping isn’t a solution, though. But before we explain why that’s so, let’s back up a second and look at what mouth taping is, and why people are doing it.
Mouth taping simply refers to taping your mouth shut right before you fall asleep. TikTokkers have used everything from duct tape to medical tape and suggest that the process forces people to breathe through their nose and avoid the side effects of mouth breathing.
Mouth breathing can cause a dry mouth, bad breath, and sore throat. Mouth breathers also tend to snore more.
People breathe through their mouths as a backup when they’re unable to breathe properly through their noses. “People tend to mouth-breathe because their noses are congested” from a cold, sinus infection, allergies, deviated septum, or enlarged tonsils or adenoids, says Alex Dimitriu, MD, who’s double board-certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine and BrainfoodMD. “Often, nasal congestion gets worse when lying flat.”
The short answer is no. Mouth taping can restrict airflow, and it’s an especially bad idea if you don’t breathe well through your nose or if you suspect you have sleep apnea, which comes with symptoms like snoring loudly, waking up often, and being sleepy during the day, Dimitriu says.
Sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction in the upper airways, which limits air intake and leads to low oxygen levels in the brain, says Carleara Weiss, Ph.D., sleep science adviser at Aeroflow Sleep. Long term, low brain oxygen can increase the risk for stroke, cardiovascular disorders, and type 2 diabetes. “Snoring or gasping for air during sleep is a defense mechanism to open the airways and increase oxygen levels,” she says. “Mouth taping blocks this mechanism.”
Research is limited on mouth taping. A small study published in 2014 found that 30 people snored less after mouth taping, and other research on 36 patients with asthma found no signs that mouth taping improved their condition. A 2022 study published in Sleep & Breathing showed that people tried to mouth breath even when their mouths were taped, which interfered with their sleep.
Even if mouth taping could potentially reduce instances of snoring, it doesn’t treat the cause of snoring, Weiss emphasizes. Another downside is that the tape could irritate or damage the skin.
The only way mouth taping is useful is for sleep apnea patients being treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The tape is used to reduce air leakage from the machine and improve its efficacy, Dimitriu says. In this situation, the taping is done under medical supervision.
People snore when air can’t easily flow through their mouth or nose, according to the Cleveland Clinic. When airflow is restricted, the soft palate, tonsils, adenoids, and tongue vibrate against each other as air is forced out. This creates rattling, snorting, or grumbling sounds.
If you snore regularly and it’s so loud it’s affecting a partner, visit a sleep medicine doctor, says Lauri Leadley, founder, president, and clinical sleep educator at Valley Sleep Center. Getting a sleep study will identify what’s causing your snoring and rule out sleep apnea.
“A comprehensive sleep study and treatment plan is sure to get one breathing through the nose, which is nature’s way of providing cleansing breaths,” she says.
Dimitriu recommends his patients use apps like SnoreLab, which record their snoring all night to see what they sound like. “I pay particular attention to loud snoring and pauses in breathing (apneas), and also what breathing sounds like before people wake up.”
Sleep apnea is a serious condition that occurs when breathing continuously stops and starts when you sleep, according to the Mayo Clinic. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type and happens when the throat muscles relax, blocking your airway.
A sleep study will help diagnose sleep apnea, Leadley says. Treatments include using a CPAP machine, an oral appliance, or other devices. “A treatment plan enables the patient to breathe well and sleep well,” she says.
Mouth taping—and seeking out any remedy on TikTok—isn’t a “band-aid” for a snoring problem, Leadley says. “Get to the root cause, treat it, live better. Sleep is the time when our body’s cells regenerate. It’s healing.”

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