Recently it was brought to my attention that taping your mouth closed at night could improve your quality of sleep. My initial reaction was that of humor, thinking about how silly one would look would silver 3M masking tape stretched across their face while sleeping. When I heard it a second time in the same week, with a reference to the book Breath by James Nestor, it prompted me to explore why this practice would result in a positive impact on sleep quality.
We take 25,000 breaths in a day and in a single breath, more molecules will pass through your nose than all the grains of sand on all the worlds beaches-Trillions.
There is a stark contrast in benefits from the act of breathing through your nose, to breathing through your mouth. In fact, I have found zero positives for mouth breathing, with only mentions that our best use for our mouth’s is for eating, drinking, and talking. Nose breathing on the other hand, has an array of benefits including:
- Boosts blood circulation, blood oxygen, carbon dioxide levels, nitric oxide levels by sixfold, and improves overall lung volume.
- Decreases snoring
- Lowers your heart rate and breath rate increasing oxygen concentration in your blood which lowers your blood pressure and decreases risk of heart failure
- Reduces risk of dental decay and gum disease, allowing your saliva to wash bacteria from your teeth and gums
Mouth breathing side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Bad breath
- Waking up tired and irritable
- Chronic Fatigue
- Brain Fog
- Dark circles forming under your eyes
Maintaining higher levels of Nitric Oxide is important as keep your brain healthy and sharp. You can use an over-the-counter testing kit to check your levels and I recommend using the Berkeley Life Nitric Oxide Test. If there is not enough NO present, blood flow to the brain is inhibited and inflammation can occur which is known as oxidative stress. High levels also improve your immune system as it helps to defend against any pathogens and bacteria. Capping off this list is that lack of nitric oxide also is a possible cause for erectile dysfunction.
As a parent it is important to look for signs of mouth breathing in my boys. Here are symptoms that will manifest if your child is breathing through their mouth for most of the day:
- Slower than normal growth rate
- Increased crying at night
- Large tonsils
- Dry cracked lips
- Problems concentrating at school
- Daytime sleepiness
As I mentioned in a recent social media post, I attempted to run 3 miles only breathing through my nose. I encountered challenges with the oxygen deprivation which seemed to improve with squinting/raising my nose which expanded my nasal passageway. My next successful attempt was much easier with my attention placed on the slower cadence of my breath even when exerting on uphill inclines, which didn’t require me to contort my face to get sufficient oxygen. The slower cadence kept me in better flow throughout the entire run as the quicker inhales were the culprit in my increased fear of asphyxiation.
I have been mouth-taping now for almost 45 days and the sleep metrics on my Oura ring are noticeably improved. This practice has resulted in a significant decrease in snoring so my awakenings are minimal, and consequently less necessity to use the bathroom during the night. Somnifix has been the most effective brand which tapes around the contours of my mouth, and is the best adhesive with facial hair.
And it is worthy for me to note why expanding your lung capacity is so impactful. 20 years of research showed that the greatest indicator of life span was not genetics, diet, or daily exercise, it was lung capacity! Now aiding that is moderate exercise like walking or cycling as it has shown to boost lung size by up to 15%.
Lastly, it has been discovered that the optimum breathing rate is 5.5-second inhales and 5.5-second exhales, making the perfect breath.
So sleep better(inclusive of your sleeping partner), live longer, and have more positive dental visits, by training yourself to only breath through your nose. It will require awareness and practice, but the results will be worthwhile.
In Optimal Health,