Everyone knows the phrase: “breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth”. There is a reason why it is not “breathe in through your mouth”. Breathing is an automated process that we don’t have to think about to do, but the body can often get in the habit of doing something incorrectly, especially if the conditions aren’t ideal. Examples of less than ideal conditions could be being in a stressed environment, or having an airway obstruction, that could detour breathing from the nasal to the oral cavity.
In the last few breaths you took, think about whether it was through your nose or through your mouth. If you answered “nose” then perfect, that is exactly what the nose was designed for: breathing! If you answered “mouth”, then this article may be for you considering the mouth is created for eating and talking and not anatomically equipped for breathing like the nose.
The nose has a nasal mucosa that helps stimulate our Parasympathetic Nervous System that allows us to fall into a deep, restful sleep, whereas the mouth does not have this feature. If you want to know more about the benefits of nasal breathing over oral breathing then check out our other article “Oral Breathing vs. Nasal Breathing”.
One way to re-establish better habits in the way we breathe during sleep is to use a method called “Mouth Taping”. Mouth-taping has origins from something called the Buteyko Method, created by Russian doctor Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko back in the 1940s and 50s. He noted that when people were ill, their breathing rates increased and they started hyperventilating and postulated that many disorders were a result of this dysfunctional breathing pattern. Therefore, he noted that the reverse might apply, and if people controlled their breathing, it might be better for their wellbeing.
Mouth-Taping is a cheap, safe and effective way of helping change an unconscious habit that occurs during the night which can contribute to a multitude of health problems such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, hypertension, sleep apnoea, panic disorders etc.
Here are the following benefits of Mouth-Taping:
1. Better Sleep:
You are able to reach better relaxation through stimulation of the nasal mucosa which activates the autonomic nervous system and allows us to progress through the different stages of the sleep cycle. This is very important for achieving body repair, memory consolidation and flushing out bad toxins from the body. Itis also essential in order for us to wake up feeling refreshed and alert for the day.
2. Better Oral Health:
Do you find yourself waking up with a sore, dry throat and chapped lips? Mouth breathing dries out your mouth and decreases saliva production which is important for washing away bad bacteria in our mouths and neutralising acid. Therefore mouth-taping can decrease tooth decay and cavities, as well as your risk of gum disease and other things like heart disease, given that your oral hygiene routine is adequate.
3. May stop Snoring:
This method may be critical in stopping snoring in yourself or your SO. During sleep, muscles in and around your mouth relax, causing your jaw to drop open, leading to that all too familiar "mouth snore". This can progress to a more serious sleep disorder called sleep apnoea, which can lead on to cardiovascular and cognitive disorders.
4. Boosts Immunity:
In addition to being equipped with nasal mucosa, the nostrils contain tiny little hairs called cilia and vibrissae which wave back and forth to catch foreign particles that enter through the nose. The two different hairs will either funnel particles down towards our throat to be coughed up as mucus or remain trapped in our noses until we sneeze/blow them out therefore protecting us from sicknesses. The mouth does not have this extra level of defence so it makes us more prone to getting sick with colds. In addition, the nose produces a gas called Nitric Oxide which vasodilates blood vessels (makes them wider)which kills bacteria in airborne bacteria.
5. Helps decrease Blood Pressure:
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a result of systemic vasoconstriction where the smooth muscles surrounding our blood vessels literally “constrict”, leading to a greater resistance to blood flow in order to help keep our body in a healthy balance. However, over time high blood pressure can lead to bigger health problems such as stroke and heart attack, which are within the top three causes of death in New Zealand. As we know, the nose produces Nitric Oxide which helps widen these blood vessels to allow better oxygen transport to the brain and heart to decrease these risks. Additionally, it is also very important to keep healthy and fit to help combat these diseases.
6. Helps with Bruxism:
Teeth grinding is another unconscious habit that can be frustrating to some who wake up with sore teeth/jaw and headache. Constant grinding of teeth can put pressure on your temporomandibular joints and over time can even wear your teeth down to the point where you’ll need a root canal. 70-80% of cases of bruxism have been found to be a reflection of sleep disordered breathing sousing mouth-tape could help significantly.
7. Safe and inexpensive:
It is important that you use the right kind of tape when trying this method in order to minimise risk of irritation or allergic reactions such as specialised micropore tape or surgical tape. It’s important that you don’t rush into using mouth tape straight away, especially with children, as it is something the body needs to ease into. Begin with just taping from the top lip to leave a little space for emergency breathing until you are more comfortable with it. If used the correct way, this method is safe and a lot less expensive than conventional methods used in the medical world to counteract disorders that arise from a dysfunctional breathing pattern.
There is yet to be any scientific studies to confirm the above benefits of mouth taping which have mostly been discovered from success stories and anecdotal evidence but mouth-taping is a cheap, easy home remedy to break poor breathing habits that anyone can give a go. So why not experiment with tape and let us know how your sleep goes?