Snoring and sleep apnea not only represent a holistic health risk to an individual, the irritating noise at night can often create conflict in a couple’s relationship. I’d like to share with you a convenient alternative remedy that has helped all of my clients to reduce snoring and sleep apnea, and that is by wearing a tape to keep your mouth closed during sleep. A new study published this year also showed the efficacy of this treatment.
Major Cause of Snoring & Sleep Apnea
One major cause of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea is mouth breathing during sleep, especially when you sleep in the supine position. When you sleep in the supine position with an open mouth, gravity pulls down your jaw and tongue, which then compresses your throat. As a result, your airway gets suppressed and narrowed, leaving less space for the air to pass through.
Mouth breathing also introduces stronger air flow as you inhale and exhale, which exacerbates the airway soft tissue vibration, causing the loud snoring noise. Strong air flow during mouth breathing also induces strong negative pressure that sucks in the soft tissues around the throat area, further narrowing your airway and eventually causing it to collapse, resulting in obstructive sleep apnea.
The Quick Fix? Wear Tape To Keep Your Mouth Closed
As I mentioned earlier, one of the main causes of snoring and sleep apnea is mouth breathing. A quick fix to keep your mouth closed during the night is to apply a small piece of tape over it. When your mouth is closed and lips are together, it is harder for you jaw to fall back even when lying in a supine position. Keeping your mouth closed also forces you to breathe through your nose, which not only helps to regulate the airflow to reduce the negative pressure inside your airway, but also reduces soft tissue vibration
An otoralyngology study published this year in the American Academy of Otolaryngology Journal demonstrated the effectiveness of this technique, showing significant reduction in median AHI (Apnea-Hypopnea Index) score and snoring index .
In the past few years, ENT specialist Dr. Hung Cheng Tseng and I have recommended wearing tape for all of our clients as part of our AirwayFit training program, and the feedback has been great. For some CPAP users, wearing tape on their mouth can help to eliminate the air leakage issue. In addition, if you often find yourself waking up with a dried mouth and throat, this method will also help you keep your mouth and throat moisturized throughout the night.
How To Apply?
In practice, wearing tape to sleep is actually a lot less daunting than it sounds.
Visit any drug store near you and pick up a small roll of medical grade paper tape. It should cost you no more than $10. I recommend ones that are hypoallergenic, porous, and non-waterproof. When you wear the tape, you want to roll your lips slightly inward so you don’t apply it directly onto your lips. Otherwise, your lips can really hurt when you remove it in the morning. Some people apply some lip balm or vaseline onto their lips first as a layer of protection.
You don’t have to wear the tape over your entire mouth. You can start by wearing it vertically, in the center, right beneath your nose, and that should suffice; as long as the tape keeps your jaw up, you should be fine. I also recommend you to pre-fold one of the corners of the tape, just so that there’s a corner you can grab onto easily in the morning to tear it off. If you have sensitive skin and you find removing the tape hurts, you can wet it with water before you remove it in the morning. You could also reduce the stickiness of the tape prior to use by sticking it onto your forearm a couple of times before applying to your lips.
If you really are panicked by this idea, then as I mentioned before, you can try wearing it only at the center portion of your mouth. This will leave gaps on the two sides of your mouth but still keep your jaw in the upright position during sleep. Also, if it’s your first night trying this method, wearing the tape 30 minutes before you go to bed can help you adjust to the feeling.
Most people who have tried the tape method to keep their mouth closed find it convenient and more comfortable and cheaper than the alternative methods. However, I would caution against wearing tape to keep your mouth closed if you experience the following: nausea or epilepsy, or if you have consumed alcohol or any pill or medicine prior to sleep. Otherwise, give it a try today and you will find yourself waking up feeling much more energized and hydrated the next morning!
To learn more about your sleep trouble, visit www.AirwayFit.com
 Huang TW., Young TH., “Novel Porous Oral Patches for Patients with Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Mouth Breathing: A Pilot Study” American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery 152.2 (2015): 369-373. Print.
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