What does tape have to do with better Sleep?
I know I’ve probably lost 95% of people at this point, but hear me out! The first time I heard about mouth taping @drcourtneykahla shared a picture of herself with tape on her mouth in her stories spring or summer of 2020. I was like “okay this girl is certified cray cray”. Fast forward to spring of 2021, I saw a wholistic dentist that informed me I had signs of teeth grinding likely due to sleep apnea (basically I was having episodes of not breathing at night). I was really surprised! Several people in my family have sleep apnea, but I had always heard it was due to an overweight or obese weight status – and I was not in either of those weight categories. The dentist recommended I read @mrjamesnester ’s book Breath: The New Science of A Lost Art. This book clearly illustrates the negative health impact of mouth breathing verses nasal breathing! A few chapters in I started taping my mouth at night.
If you are breathing through your mouth at night, your sleep will not be as restorative as it could be. Our bodies were designed to breath through our noses. Our noses warm and moisturize the air we breathe as well as filter out viruses & bacteria. Breathing through our nose delivers the maximum amount of oxygen to our blood & organs. More oxygen = more energy! I don’t know about you, but as a mom, I need the little sleep I get to be as restorative & energizing as possible!
Conversely, mouth breathing leads to lower oxygen levels in the blood and then our organs & cells receive less oxygen. As a result, our cells can’t function and we wake up feeling EXHAUSTED. Mouth breathing can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, heart disease, and kidney disease. Breathing through your mouth instead of your nose can exacerbate anxiety & allergies as well!
What leads to mouth breathing? The most common causes are oral ties (which I have) and/or nasal congestion due to the nasal cavity being too small. How do these cause mouth breathing? Our tongue is supposed to rest and basically “suction” to the roof of our mouth. This tongue posture prevents our airway from being blocked. However, if the tongue is tethered and unable to stay sanctioned to the roof of the mouth the airway becomes blocked. A severe tongue or other oral ties may even prevent one from being able to close his or her mouth.
Additionally, the tongue resting against the roof of the mouth ensures the upper palate of the mouth grows flat and wide to make enough room for our tongue. If the tongue does not rest in the correct position, the upper palate becomes highly arched. This arched palate the pushes up into our nasal cavity and makes the sinuses & nasal cavity TOO SMALL. This leads to snoring (a sign the body is in distress) & mouth breathing.
Mouth breathing is a downward spiral because the more you mouth breath, the more inflamed & swollen the nasal cavity becomes further decreasing your ability to breath through your nose! This leads to more mouth breathing which leaves you feeling exhausted, irritable, can cause unexplained weight gain (due to poor sleep). This then raises cortisol levels which makes blood sugar control more challenging, which over time can cause insulin resistance, type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and even kidney disease!
Taping your mouth at night can help prevent mouth breathing and train your tongue to rest in the designed position (suctioned to the upper palate). However, if you have severe nasal congestion, snoring to the point that is waking your partner, etc. that is a sign you need more help than just a piece of tape. Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist specialize in retraining people to breath through their nose rather than the mouth. Working with a Myofunctional Therapist such as this one or this one would be a good place to start. Additional professionals that can support nasal breathing include, Cranial Sacral Therapists, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Chiropractor, and Holistic Dentist. In some cases, revision of oral ties and restorative therapy may be necessary or even surgery of the nasal/sinus cavity to facilitate nasal breathing. I’m the type of person that prefers to pursue minimally invasive approaches before anything else though. This is why I started with taping. If these approaches do not address the problem then you may want to pursue a dentist or an ENT that specializes in oral tie release.