When our mouth is used as a breathing route, we reduce oxygenation of all vital organs of the human body. In addition, we have less CO2 and nitric oxide in the lungs causing many other physiological abnormalities. Mouth breathing is one of the leading immediate causes of death in the severely sick. However, most people can easily avoid mouth breathing during sleep using a simple technique described below.
It is estimated that up to 30-50% of modern adults breathe through the mouth, especially during early morning hours. The prevalence is even greater in children of all ages. What are the consequences?
Mouth breathing quickly decreases oxygen content in cells. The amount of available oxygen in body tissues can be decreased about 2 times after the person starts to use mouth for breathing normal air.
Published epidemiological studies have proven that most deaths from heart attacks, stroke, asthma, COPD, complications of diabetes, epilepsy, and other chronic conditions occur from about 4 to 7 am or during early morning hours. See Morning Heavy Breathing web page for more detail. Clinical experience indicates that mouth breathing is the leading prime factor for these deaths.
Apart from this mortality statistic, sick people and most doctors know that symptoms of many chronic conditions get much worse in the early morning. How to prevent negative effects of tissue hypoxia, that is the key factor in development and progress of heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cancer, and dozens of other common disorders?
In order to maintain nasal breathing during sleep and at night, Russian patients, practicing the Buteyko breathing self-oxygenation technique invented mouth taping. As a first step, check if you have this problem. Is your mouth dry just after waking up in the morning? If the mouth is dry, then ths person had mouth breathing. It could begin after the person went to sleep or it could appear later, e.g., at 3 or 4 am. In any case, just 20 minutes of mouth-breathing produces large negative systemic effect. Most of all, it reduces body oxygenation to less than 20 seconds. (Oxygenation can be found any time by measuring your stress-free breath-holding time after usual exhalation. Exhale normally and pinch your nose, counting seconds using a watch, but only until very first or initial signs of discomfort.)
The method is called “mouth taping”. One needs a surgical tape (from a pharmacy) and cream to prevent the tape sticking. Micropore (or 3M) and Vaseline are common choices. There is no need to use a very wide tape: about 1 or 1.5 cm is sufficient. First of all, put a small amount of cream on your lips so that it is easy to remove this tape in the morning (some tapes can be very sticky). Then take about 4-5 cm of tape and stick it vertically, starting just under the nose and going across the closed mouth down to the chin. Some students prefer to put a wider it along or horizontally, but a short piece in the middle is sufficient. If you are afraid to “seal” your mouth completely due to fear of suffocation, you can tape only one half (or one side) of the mouth leaving some space for “emergency” breathing.
What are the possible problems with taping?
After some hours of sleep, very few people may find mouth taping is uncomfortable. But this happens only in cases, when parameters of sleep are not suitable for the human organism, for example, the blanket can be too warm, room temperature too high, air quality poor, etc. Sleeping on one’s back is another factor that also intensifies breathing and drastically reduces body oxygenation creating discomfort, even if the mouth is taped. In most people, sleeping on one’s back leads to mouth breathing. In order to prevent it, use a technique described on this page “How to prevent sleeping on one’s back*“
What are the key causes of mouth breathing during sleep?
Taping one’s mouth during sleep normally should be a temporary technique. When the body oxygenation is above 20-25 s in the morning (using the same breath holding time test), mouth taping is not necessary since people start to breathe much less. Hence, one should improve body oxygenation by breathing lighter and easier at rest.
How to increase body oxygenation?
The mani factor is to change your basal or unconscious breathing pattern. These and many techniques and breathing exercises which lead to easier breathing and higher body oxygenation index after the breathing session, including Amazing DIY breathing device, Buteyko breathing exercises and Frolov breathing device.
Apart from breathing exercises, it is crucial to address lifestyle factors or to take care about breathing 24/7. For example, some activities can diminish body oxygenation. They include sleeping on one’s back, overeating, poor posture, lack of vital nutrients in diet, overheating, stress, and many others.
More details about mouth breathing problems, are on my website Heavy Breathing Difficulties Solved