Mouth taping is a viral trend that’s been gaining steam on TikTok over the last several months, and recently, 23-year-old soccer star Erling Haaland has added fuel to the debate over whether mouth taping is genuinely a health booster.
Haaland joined Logan Paul on his “Impaulsive” podcast recently, where he stressed the most “important thing in the world” is sleep when it comes to feeling and moving your best. He went on to say mouth taping during sleep and training helps improve health by encouraging nasal breathing, which some say has many benefits. Here’s what experts say about mouth taping and its potential benefits and drawbacks.
Is Mouth Taping a Good Idea?
Madan Kandula, MD, Milwaukee-based board-certified Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist, Founder and CEO of ADVENT, providing breathing, snoring, and sleep apnea solutions, has two thoughts on mouth taping as a pioneer in his field for over 20 years.
If your nose isn’t functioning correctly for breathing, taping your mouth is not advisable, and if your nose does work, your mouth would likely not be open in the first place.
“The simple truth is many people nasal breathe during the day, but once they lie down, these areas become compromised and impact our ability to breathe properly, causing us to mouth breathe in our subconscious state of sleep,” explains Dr. Kandula. Ultimately, he says, trying any mouth taping without medical diagnostic confirmation that your nasal and sinus passages are open and nasal lining is calm could be a recipe for disaster.
And when it comes to proof of whether mouth taping improves your health in any way, the data is lacking. “There’s not enough evidence to suggest that mouth taping has any real benefits when it comes to sleep, and it’s not something I recommend to anyone who is using it as a way to reduce snoring or mouth breathing,” says Shelby Harris, MD, Sleepopolis’s sleep expert, and licensed clinical psychologist specializing in behavioral sleep medicine.
The Safety of Mouth Taping Is Questionable
Although glad for the increased focus it brings to healthy sleep habits, Dr. Kandula stresses concern with the anything-goes attitude on social media, leading to the spread of risky health information. “I see a lot of products saying they can cure snoring, or people might be using it to cover up mouth-breathing snoring, which we know is often a sign of sleep apnea, so that can be really dangerous for people,” he says. The risks are especially significant if a person hasn’t been evaluated by a medical professional who can adequately assess the health of your nose and throat, he says.
Sleep apnea is when airways are fully or partially blocked during sleep, often resulting in loud snoring or mouth breathing to increase airflow. And according to Dr. Harris, taping the mouth closed during the night can further restrict airflow for individuals with snoring or mouth breathing issues and put them at a greater risk for serious health complications.
According to Dr. Harris, people with sleep apnea or who have related symptoms should not try mouth taping before consulting with their doctor or a sleep specialist. “Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed, so if you are experiencing snoring or breathing difficulties while sleeping, be sure to get evaluated by a sleep specialist,” she says.
Does Nasal Breathing Improve Your Health?
Your body has three holes to breathe — your two nostrils and throat, which creates what Dr. Kandula calls “the breathing triangle,” and is the start of your airway. He explains that nasal breathing is optimal because it has built-in filters to humidify and purify the air you breathe before it travels to the lungs.
“From my lens as a board-certified head and neck surgeon, a healthy functioning nose directly impacts your overall health,” says Dr. Kandula. “This topic is a rising star on the conversation charts because people are starting to connect the dots on what healthy breathing and sleeping means; for clarity, that means breathing through your nose 24/7 with your mouth shut.”
If you discover you are breathing through your mouth while you sleep or if you snore, it’s a good idea to speak to your healthcare provider. Women often snore more quietly than men, according to Dr. Harris, but this can still indicate a potential health concern. Avoid taping your mouth and seek professional help instead.
Kandula, Madan. Author interview. September 2024.