By: Audrey Yoon, DDS, MS


  1. Sleep Medicine Division, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, School of Medicine, Redwood City, CA, USA
  2. Department of Orthodontics, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry at the University of the Pacific, San Francisco, CA, USA

People naturally prefer to breathe through their nose due to its physiological benefits—filtration, heating, and humidifying of the air. However, individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) often breathe through their mouth during sleep. A study found that 41% of children with OSA were mouth breathers. [1]. Mouth breathing can negatively impact sleep quality and is associated with sleep disorders like snoring, sleep apnea, and hypopnea. One method to encourage nasal breathing during sleep is mouth taping.

What is mouth taping for sleep?

Mouth taping was first introduced in Russia by Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko during the 1940s. This technique involves applying a small strip of breathable tape over or around the lips to partially or completely keep the mouth closed while sleeping. The goal is to gently nudge the body towards nasal breathing throughout the night. Proponents of mouth taping suggest that it promotes nasal breathing, which can improve snoring, reduce dry mouth, and enhance sleep quality.[2, 3, 4]

Potential Benefits of Mouth Taping for Sleep

Mouth taping during sleep can offer several potential benefits, particularly for individuals who have a clear nasal airway but tend to breathe through their mouths due to habits or low facial muscle tone. The primary benefit of mouth taping is promoting nasal breathing. Nose breathing ensures that the air is warm, filtered, and moist. Nitric oxide (NO), produced by the paranasal sinuses, is a natural vasodilator that improves blood circulation and enhances oxygen uptake in the blood [5,6]. NO is also a strong neurotransmitter that plays a role in maintaining upper airway muscle tone, regulating spontaneous respiration, and controlling neuromuscular activity during sleep. Additionally, it helps prevent infections and allergic reactions.

Chronic mouth breathing during sleep can cause the throat tissues to vibrate, leading to snoring. Mouth taping may help by encouraging nasal breathing, potentially reducing or eliminating snoring. A study by Huang et al. reported that mouth taping has potential to treat mild OSA and open-mouth breathing [7]. Mouth tape can also help reduce dry mouth, a risk factor for oral infection and inflammation, by promoting naturally humidified nasal breathing.

There are several theories as to why mouth taping leads to more restorative sleep. Improved oxygen intake through the nose and reduced sleep disruptions caused by snoring or dry mouth are potential reasons. Lee et al. reported an improvement in the oxygen desaturation index [8]. Furthermore, nasal breathing offers physiological benefits, such as improved blood pressure regulation, which can enhance sleep quality.

Potential Side Effects or Drawbacks of Mouth Taping

While mouth taping can be beneficial for many, it can be concerning for some. Discomfort or anxiety may occur, particularly for those unaccustomed to nasal breathing. There is also a risk of suffocation if the nasal passages become obstructed due to allergies, a cold, infections, or anatomical issues, making nasal breathing difficult or impossible. Although rare, in emergency situations such as vomiting during sleep, mouth taping could pose a significant risk. Additionally, there have been reports of individuals swallowing mouth tape while sleeping.

What types of mouth tape are recommended?

There are various types and methods for mouth taping, but no study has compared them comprehensively. It is generally safe to use tapes specially designed for sleep, which are typically hypoallergenic and designed to gently adhere to the skin.  One recommended option is 3M micropore medical-grade paper tape, which is gentle on the skin and less likely to cause irritation. A study by Lee et al. showed that 3M tape is effective in patients with OSA [8].  The author personally prefers Kinesiology Tape (KT), which often used to improve mobility and muscle activation. KT can support the muscles above or below the lips rather than directly across them, promoting nasal breathing without forcibly keeping the mouth closed. This method reduces the risk of potential side effects, such as suffocation, because it allows for some mouth opening if the nasal passages become obstructed during sleep[9].

What should people look for in a mouth tape?

Good mouth tape should be made from hypoallergenic materials to minimize skin irritation and should feature a gentle yet effective adhesive that holds securely but can be easily removed inf case of any discomfort or emergency. To ensure no issues during sleep, it is recommended to use the tape during the daytime first to test for allergy and skin irritation.


Mouth taping for sleep remains a unique but unproven procedure. While some potential benefits exist, safety and comfort are paramount. Consulting your doctor and exploring other proven sleep hygiene practices are crucial before trying this trend. Remember, a restful night’s sleep is essential for overall health, so focus on solutions with a strong scientific basis.


  1. Bokov P, Dahan J, Boujemla I, et al.: Prevalence of mouth breathing, with or without nasal obstruction, in children with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep Medicine. 2022, 98:98-105.
  2. Indiarti IS, Setyanto D, Kusumaningrum A, Budiardjo SB: Changes in the palatal dimensions of mouth breathing children caused by nasal obstruction. In Journal of Physics: Conference Series. Volume 884. IOP Publishing; 2017:012036.
  3. Cooper S, Oborne J, Harrison T, Tattersfield A: Effect of mouth taping at night on asthma control – A randomised single-blind crossover study. Respiratory Medicine. 2009, 103:813-819.
  4. Huberman A: The Science of Mouth Tape & Mouth Breathing.
  5. Lundberg JO, Settergren G, Gelinder S, Lundberg JM, Alving K, Weitzberg E: Inhalation of nasally derived nitric oxide modulates pulmonary function in humans. Acta Physiol Scand. 1996, 158:343-347. 10.1046/j.1365-201X.1996.557321000.x
  6. Ahmad A, Dempsey SK, Daneva Z, et al.: Role of Nitric Oxide in the Cardiovascular and Renal Systems. Int J Mol Sci. 2018, 19. 10.3390/ijms19092605
  7. Huang TW, Young TH: Novel porous oral patches for patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea and mouth breathing: a pilot study. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015, 152:369-373. 10.1177/0194599814559383
  8. Lee YC, Lu CT, Cheng WN, Li HY: The Impact of Mouth-Taping in Mouth-Breathers with Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Preliminary Study. Healthcare (Basel). 2022, 10. 10.3390/healthcare10091755
  9. Lindenberg KM, Shipe NK, Kletzli K, Cannizzaro R, Timko J, Calhoun K: The Influence of Kinesiology Tape on Breathing Mechanics in College-Aged Individuals–A Randomized Trial. Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal. 2023, 34.