If you are a “mouth breather” and sleep with your mouth open you will find the Somni Snore Guard or Snore Calm Chin-Up Strips suitable remedies for your snoring. When we breathe in through the nose the air passes over the curved part of the soft palate in a gentle flow into the throat without creating unnecessary turbulence.
When we breathe in through the mouth however, the air hits the back of the throat head on and can create enormous vibrations in the soft tissue. The Somni Snore Guard and Snore Calm Chin-Up Strips are designed to keep your mouth closed during sleep, thus preventing mouth breathing. These may be used in conjunction with a nose spray or nasal dilator to eliminate the snoring.
You will have already tried the “tongue” test. Now try two further tests: Open your mouth and make a snoring noise. Now close your mouth and make the same noise. If you can only snore with your mouth open then you are a “mouth breather”. Somni Snore Guard or Snore Calm Chin-Up Strips will help to keep your mouth closed and encourage you to breathe correctly through your nasal airway.
Try this “nose” test: Looking in a mirror, press the side of one nostril to close it. With your mouth closed, breathe in through your other nostril. It it tends to collapse try propping it open with the clean end of a matchstick. If breathing is easier with the nostril propped open, nasal dilators may solve your snoring problem.
Additionally, some people just do not have the muscle tone to keep their jaw from dropping open during sleep. This can be easily remedied with Snore Calm Chin-Up Strips.
This page is part of the 90 Day Snore-No-More Plan. You may also like to consider the following causes :
Are you overweight?Do you smoke & want to stop?Will cause excessive muscle relaxation.Can you breathe clearly through your nose?Commonly associated with nasal stuffiness.A common cause.Do you sleep on your back?Often transient but could persist. Can result in failure to thrive. Consider your hormones. Loud snoring. Excessive daytime sleepiness?
In dental surgery, I see many signs and reasons for snoring. As a professional, the direct evidence of open mouth sleep can actually be found with a quick dental exam. The noticeable signs for patients are often different, they often describe tiredness and low energy, as well as, restless sleep.
As I explore here, snoring is actually more dangerous than many people realize:
Snoring has a close link to sleep apnea symptoms. There are some warning signs that your dentist will identify about snoring. They may link to a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea.
- Dental sleep apnea symptoms can include:
- Lack of oxygen and causes of snoring
- Is sleeping with mouth open normal?
- Tongue exercises to stop sleeping with mouth open
- To prevent snoring:
- Dr. David’s
- Buteyko: Why Indonesia singer Andien sleeps with tape on her mouth
- You might also like:
- What are the risks?
- Body, Mind, and Sport
- Why Sleep With Mouth Closed?
- Noble Prize Science Suggests Nose Breathing Sleep is a Must
- Benefits of Nitric Oxide
- Benefits of Nasal Breathing
- Train Yourself to Nose Breathe While You Sleep
- Mouth Tape Instructions
- 5 Reasons I Tape my Mouth at Night
- How to Tape Your Mouth at Night
- Tips on Mouth Taping
- How to Stop Snoring
- Don’t let snoring ruin your relationship or a good night’s sleep. Learn what causes snoring and how you can cure it.
- Self-help strategies for snoring
- Medical treatment for snoring
- Snoring and your relationship
- Communicating with a partner who snores
- Dealing with complaints about your snoring
- Sleep Hack: How I Learned to Sleep Better With Mouth Taping
- Tips for Optimal Mouth Taping
- Keep Your Mouth Shut, But Should You Tape It?
Dental sleep apnea symptoms can include:
Sleeping with mouth open
Small, narrow jawbone crooked teeth and high palate
Jaw pain or temporomandibular dysfunction (TMJ)
Increased teeth sensitivity or tooth aches
Unexplained oro-facial pain
Progressive gum disease
Reflux or GERD
If you add snoring to any of these conditions, you should see your dentist, GP, or sleep physician to get a sleep test.
Lack of oxygen and causes of snoring
Not ALL snoring is harmful. So when is snoring normal and does snoring cause lack of oxygen and sleep disorders?
Studies suggest that 60% of men and 40% of women snore when they reach their 60s. 35% of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea. The primary sleep apnea symptoms are pauses in breathing during sleep. They’re related to snoring and lack of oxygen to the brain during sleep.
The reasons for snoring stem from the relaxation of throat muscles when you sleep. Less airway volume can mean that the relaxed throat vibrates when you breathe. It’s the universal cause of snoring (harmful or normal).
Not all snoring is sleep apnea. Breathing noise or ‘snoring’ can be normal.
But sleeping with mouth open and pauses in breathing may or show sleep disorders. If you sleep on your back, your tongue falls into your airway.
If pauses reach a duration of 10 seconds, it’s called an ‘apnea.’ That’s where the term sleep apnea comes from, and it’s different to the normal causes of snoring.
Is sleeping with mouth open normal?
For optimal breathing, we should be breathing through our nose. Sleep apnea is your body experiencing breathing dysfunction during sleep.
Nasal breathing prevents oxygen deprivation. Nitric oxide is produced in the nasal sinuses. It acts to increase blood flow and deliver oxygen to the lungs. Air is also warmed and moistened in the nasal sinuses. When you breathe through your mouth, you provide cold, dry air that may cause lack of oxygen.
The tongue is one of the main factors in snoring and sleeping with mouth open. It can also reveal sleep apnea symptoms.
Your tongue both contains and connects to the largest group of muscles in the body.
It sits like a sling in your lower jaw bone. But the muscles of the tongue support the airways with connections to the jaws, neck, and base of the skull. It attaches to the hyoid bone (which is a floating bone that supports your airway).
When you go to sleep, the primary muscles of your tongue and your throat relax. They are paralyzed during the deep (REM) cycle of sleep. Only your eyes and diaphragm remain ‘awake’ during this period of sleep.
For you to keep your airway open, support muscles for the throat must hold firm.
The normal posture of the tongue is to sit against the top of your mouth. This position turns on the muscles that support the throat and airways.
Sleeping with mouth open is a sign your tongue is not supporting your airway. The tongue can then fall back into the airway, blocking normal breathing.
Mouth breathing can also cause lack of oxygen and sleep apnea.
Tongue exercises to stop sleeping with mouth open
One way to prevent snoring and sleep better is daytime breathing and tongue habits. Daytime mouth breathing fails to turn on your throat muscles. These are the muscles that hold the airway open at night.
Strengthening the muscles in your tongue can improve snoring and sleep apnea symptoms.
To strengthen your tongue, complete these exercises twice per day. They will help to hold your tongue at the top of your mouth at rest. It will teach these muscles to keep the airway open at night.
In each of these exercises, the base of your tongue and sides should feel tired. It’s a sign you’re exercising the right areas.
To prevent snoring:
In bed prop yourself on your side to prevent your tongue falling backward. The goal is to avoid sleeping with mouth open.
Tongue exercises to improve snoring:
1) Hold your tongue behind the back of your front two teeth. The spot is just in front of two rough lines on your palate. Press with upward force and hold for 3 minutes. Complete twice daily.
2) Tap tongue behind back teeth to this same point making ‘tut tut noise.’ Complete 20 times and repeat five times per day.
3) Move tongue backward against the palate, from the spot behind your front teeth. Push against the top of the palate and move towards the back of the mouth as far as it will go. Repeat ten times, twice a day.
4) Hold a spoon at the top of your mouth, or you can also use a paddle pop stick. With force, hold for 2 minutes and repeat two times per day.
Have you tried these exercises yet? Did they improve snoring in yourself or a loved one? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.
For more information on Dr. Lin’s clinical protocol that highlights the steps parents can take to prevent dental problems in their children:
Want to know more? Dr. Steven Lin’s book, The Dental Diet, is available to order today. An exploration of ancestral medicine, the human microbiome and epigenetics it’s a complete guide to the mouth-body connection. Take the journey and the 40-day delicious food program for life-changing oral and whole health.
Click below to order your copy now:
US Barnes & Noble
There is an actual method to taping your mouth to help you sleep better. It has been proven to help with sleep apnea. The reason for taping is that many people breathe through the mouth which is very unhealthy. So the more you can breath through the nose the healthier you will be.
Why is it so important to NOT mouth breath?
Your nose is made for breathing and your mouth is made for eating and speaking. When breathing through the nose it acts as a filter, warms the air and creates nitric oxide which helps blood oxygen levels. When breathing through the mouth non of those occur. The tonsils are in constant defense as are the lungs which leads to chronic tonsillitis, asthma and allergies. It takes a lot more energy to breath through the mouth so in return your exhausted and don’t get restful sleep. Many other health problems develop just from mouth breathing.
How do I tape my mouth?
There are many tapes on the market that you can use. We recommend micropore tape by 3M, which can be bought on Amazon. Don’t be worried about taping. You nose is made to do the breathing and can be retrained.
What if I cant breath through my nose?
Most of the time it’s a habit and people think they can’t breath through the nose but you can! You just need to retrain your lip muscles to stay closed. If you wake up multiple nights and the tape is off, you may want to see an ENT to rule out any obstructions.
Buteyko: Why Indonesia singer Andien sleeps with tape on her mouth
You might also like:
- Breathing poison in the world’s most polluted city
- Life with asthma: ‘The panic is probably the worst’
- Sleep myths ‘damaging your health’
Someone suffering from OSA, she adds, cannot stop the condition “just by closing your mouth”.
“Oral appliances you use bring your jaw forward when you wear them, so that helps with sleep apnoea – but it’s not just closing the mouth, it’s bringing the mandible forward to open the airway.”
Professor Nirmal Kumar, an otolaryngologist and president of the British medical organisation ENT UK, agrees, and told the BBC that there was “no convincing body of evidence in the medical literature to support this treatment “.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mandibular advancement braces, which are used to treat sleep apnoea, ‘don’t just close the mouth’
He adds that doing any breathing exercises – Buteyko or not – can generally improve asthma and other respiratory symptoms, which may be why people believe that it’s helping. But breathing exercises are “part of our standard advice and treatment anyway”.
What are the risks?
Aside from the fact that it’s barely effective, both doctors warn that taping your mouth – or your child’s mouth – could be dangerous.
“If you were to get sick and you had to vomit, you wouldn’t be able to,” Dr Yaremchuk warns. In the worst case scenario this could cause someone to choke.
When it comes to young children, Mr McKeown explicitly warns against taping their mouths. He said he had seen Andien’s Instagram photo of her toddler, and that it’s “not at all recommended” by Buteyko practitioners.
“For young children, the earliest we would is maybe five years of age, but we don’t put the tape directly over the lips.”
Prof Kumar adds that children can also have greater difficulty breathing through their nose, as well frequently being sick.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption File photo: toddlers and babies often sleep with their mouths open because their noses are more likely to be blocked
He says that Andien taping her two-year-old child’s mouth is “the last thing we would advise anybody, because there is a significant danger of cot death”.
While in an emergency most adults are likely to wake themselves up and rip the tape off, children cannot, he adds.
“There are problems in children’s nasal passages that can cause blockages,” such as adenoids or a simple blocked nose. In these cases, “they have to breathe through their mouth, or they’ll die”.
If you are snoring or are having other problems breathing, both doctors recommend seeing a medical professional for treatment.
Do you wake up with a dry mouth, bad breath, or a scratchy throat? Do you suffer from snoring or sleep apnea? Curious about an unorthodox technique based on ancient wisdom to stop snoring and protect your teeth and gums, while boosting your parasympathetic nervous system and putting fight-or-flight responses at ease? Read on for my favorite new trick that can address many common health issues.
Body, Mind, and Sport
When I was living in India back in the ’80s doing research for my first book, Body, Mind, and Sport (which is all about why we should nose breathe during exercise), I ran across some interesting studies.
One compares two groups of soldiers during sleep. One is nose breathers and the other is mouth breathers. The study suggests that the nose breathing group rarely, if ever, got sick compared to the mouth breathing group.
Another report shows that nose breathing sleeping is encouraged by Indian parents, who typically adjust the sleeping child to their side, with chin tucked and mouth closed.
These little clues inspired my research into the differences between mouth and nose breathing back in the ’90s, the findings of which were published by the International Journal of Neuroscience.1
15 Benefits Of Breathing Through Your Nose During Exercise
Why Sleep With Mouth Closed?
Research suggesting the benefits of nose breathing while sleeping is compelling. Nose breathing drives air through turbinates (like small turbo-chargers) in the nose, which direct it all the way into the lungs’ lower lobes. Here, there is a predominance of parasympathetic receptors, which are needed to calm the body and prepare for deep sleep. Also, the majority of the blood in the lungs is found in the lower lobes.
Most cases of snoring are caused by open mouth breathing and all of the sleep apnea devices are designed to help folks breathe through their nose while sleeping.
Nose breathing, then, more effectively drives oxygen into the blood-rich lower lobe alveoli, which not only support healthy oxygenation of the blood, but more importantly, support a significantly greater exchange of toxins and waste out of those more vascularized lower lobes.
Nose breathing at night helps calm the body while removing fat-soluble toxins.2
The Ayurvedic Guide to the Best Sleep of your Life
Noble Prize Science Suggests Nose Breathing Sleep is a Must
In 1998, the discovery of nitric oxide won the Noble Prize in chemistry. It was called the “panacea molecule,” supporting cellular repair like nothing seen before.3
The greatest amount of nitric oxide (NO) in the body is found to be produced during nose breathing! That same effect does not happen with mouth breathing.4
Nitric oxide is produced in the paranasal sinuses, so when you breathe through the nose, an abundance of NO is driven into the lungs’ lower lobes, where it acts as an anti-inflammatory, hormonal, antiseptic, and repair agent for the entire respiratory tract and the delicate tissues of the lungs.5, 6
While sleeping, nose breathing also sucks NO from the sinuses into the lower lobes of the lungs and then directly into the blood stream through the lungs’ alveoli. Once NO enters the blood stream, it has been shown to be the body’s primary agent for protection and repair of the endothelial arterial lining. So why in the world would we not train the body to sleep with our mouths closed every night?
In the body, NO plays a plethora of roles essential for optimal health.7
A Curious Study On Heart Health
Benefits of Nitric Oxide
- Regulates vascular tone and blood flow
- Delivers oxygen to mitochondria for energy production
- Supports healthy blood viscosity
- Supports healthy arterial lining, preventing cardiovascular disease
- Generates antioxidants for repair, such as SOD (superoxide dismutase)
- Supports healthy blood sugar and better insulin sensitivity
- Lowers BMI (body mass index)
- Regulates brain blood flow and neural plasticity
- Supports cellular immunity
Just the benefits of NO are more than enough support for the ancient Ayurvedic wisdom that nose breathing while asleep is an important tool to teach children.
In our study comparing nose to mouth breathing, we found even more unprecedented reasons why we should all learn how to exercise and sleep with our mouths closed.8
Benefits of Nasal Breathing
At night, we have eight full hours of these nose breathing benefits:
- Nose breathing forces the entire ribcage to breathe. Deep nose breathing engages all 12 ribs to act as levers massaging the heart and lungs, rather than a cage that squeezes the heart and lungs 26,000 breaths per day.8
- Nose breathing and full ribcage activation act as a pump to pull lymph fluid from the lower parts of the body up into the chest cavity and heart, supporting healthy and active lymph flow.8
- Nose breathing and full ribcage activation are critical for optimal flexibility and elasticity of the spine, head, neck, and low back.8
- Nose breathing lowers heart and breath rate compared to mouth breathing.8
- Nose breathing increases alpha brain wave activity compared to mouth breathing. Alpha brain waves are produced during relaxation and meditative states. Mouth breathing exercise produces a significant amount of beta brain waves, which are associated with stress response.8
- Nose breathing increases brain wave coherence compared to mouth breathing. Brain wave coherence is associated with calm and organized brain function.8
- Nose breathing exercise is perceived as requiring less exertion compared to mouth breathing exercise, according to the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion.8
- Nose breathing exercise demonstrates shorter recovery times and better endurance than mouth breathing exercise.8
- Nose breathing exercise measures a significant reduction in galvanic skin (stress) response compared to mouth breathing exercise. (Nose breathing exercise is less stressful.)8
- Those practicing nose breathing exercise report 50% less fight-or-flight stress and 50% more calm parasympathetic activation compared to mouth breathing exercise.8
- Nose breathing while sleeping can eradicate snoring and help prevent and treat sleep apnea.10, 11
Train Yourself to Nose Breathe While You Sleep
Most people find themselves waking up with a dry mouth, bad breath, and sometimes scratchy throat. Others snore and can eventually develop sleep apnea.
Mouth breathing has been found to dry out the saliva in the mouth, which is linked to changes in oral bacteria and proliferation of foul-breath-causing volatile sulfur compounds as well as the proliferation of other strains of undesirable mouth bacteria, which may be associated with poor teeth and gum health.
Mouth breathing has been linked to snoring, sleep issues, sleep apnea, and changes in the structure of the mouth, resulting in orthodontial issues and more.9
In one study, 50 patients with nasal airway obstruction and obstructive sleep apnea were medically treated to remove the nasal block. Nose breathing was shown to improve 98% of patients with sleep apnea, 38% of patients were relieved of snoring, and 78% reported more daytime energy.10, 11
Mouth Tape Instructions
Medical disclaimer: Before attempting to tape your mouth for sleep, check with your medical doctor. If you have any health concern whatsoever, do not attempt this practice without medical supervision.
So how can you train yourself to nasal breathe at night? You can buy commercial mouth tape products online to start. Somnifix and 3M micropore tape are readily available to use for mouth tape.
If you’re concerned about suffocating, the Somnifix mouth tape allows you to breathe through the mouth if you use effort (which could happen while sleeping).
The adhesive on the micropore tape can be a bit strong for the lips, so be careful peeling it off. Fold the ends of the mouth tape back when putting it on so you can easily take it off in the morning or night if needed.
In time, you will find that you have trained yourself to breathe through your nose and you can switch from mouth tape to a Band-Aid that you can apply vertically over your lips, holding them together while you sleep. The non-adhesive part of the Band-Aid covers your lips, which makes it much easier to remove in the morning. Band-Aids are also much cheaper. The Somnifix strips can be pricey if you become a committed nose breathing sleeper, as I am.
In time, you will not need any help keeping your mouth closed at night—it will become the natural way you sleep.
Remember: Lie on your side with your chin tucked for best training results.
Please watch the video as I demonstrate all the mouth taping techniques:
Podcast: Play in new window |
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS
Yes, I tape my mouth at night and you should too. We’re not talking duct tape here or even masking tape as this eye-catching graphic shows. It’s special lightweight tape made just for taping the lips at night. It works!
Mouth taping lets you breathe through your nose not your mouth. The difference this makes in sleep, dental health, sinuses, lungs, energy, nitric oxide and carbon dioxide blood levels is staggering.
Listen in to my Primal Diet – Modern Health podcast on this topic in the player above, on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your tunes.
I started to tape my mouth after a Buteyko Breathing asthma seminar 6 years ago. A core theory is the understanding that…
The mouth is for eating and the nose is for breathing
We are designed to breathe through our nose but have modern habits of mouth breathing: open lips, clogged sinus, inhaling through the mouth when talking, and sleeping with an open mouth.
5 Reasons I Tape my Mouth at Night
1). DEEPER SLEEP AND LESS SNORING
Nasal breathing lowers heart rate and Adrenaline and improves blood oxygen levels. Snoring and sleep apnea can respond to mouth taping (see more Tips on that below). My overnight oxygen levels via Pulse Oximeter readings improved when I started mouth taping.
2). ASTHMA and ALLERGIES
The nose warms, filters and moisturizes air. Mouth breathing sends cold dry air to the back of the throat and lungs. Nasal passages secrete excess mucous trying to alleviate the dryness, causing congestion in the nose and creating more allergies and mouth breathing – a vicious cycle.
3). DENTAL HEALTH and BETTER BREATH
Mouth breathing dries your mouth, harming the oral Microbiome affecting the entire digestive tract. A dry mouth can lead to cavities as teeth are robbed of their protective coating of saliva and oral pH is altered. Bad breath can result from increased bacteria in the mouth.
4). CALMER MIND AND BODY
Mouth breathing can activate the fight or flight response. Learn to stop mouth breathing during the day too. This is a basic health improvement tool that can change your life.
Overbreathing can make you sick. It’s not hyperventilation like a panic attack, but the more you watch your breathing and slow it down, the less anxious you’ll feel, day or night. Read more about overbreathing here.
5). NITRIC OXIDE.
We produce 25% of our Nitric Oxide in the sinuses but only when we breathe through the nose. Nitric Oxide is key to athletic endurance and strength, regulation of blood pressure, arterial inflammation, sleep quality and memory. Males may appreciate Nitric Oxide’s ability to relax and open blood vessels throughout the body.
How to Tape Your Mouth at Night
Somnifix is the tape you want. It’s feather light but strong enough to stay on all night. Buy it at Somnifix or on Amazon.
It’s excellent for CPAP users as it can stop air leakage and eliminate the need for chin straps. It may even eliminate the need for a CPAP..
Somnifix mouth strips work for those with beards too.
Just make sure your lip area has no moisturizer on it. Gently compress and fold your lips together, tucking them under a bit.
You can try a few “practice” nights by taping the mouth vertically instead of horizontally. You’ll be able to puff air out but it will be harder to mouth breathe. The small vent in the tape is there for those who feel they may need it.
Amazingly, if your sinuses are clogged they may clear right up after several minutes. If not, and you have tried your best not to breathe through your mouth during the day or at night, see an ENT to diagnose why.
Tips on Mouth Taping
- Wear the tape for 1/2 hour before bed to get used to it at first
- Don’t wear tape if you’ve been drinking heavily, are nauseous or take sleeping pills
- The tape will come unsealed if you cough – simply tap it back into place.
- Peel it slowly off your face in the morning by rolling it back.
- Ask your partner to tape too. Put it on together, laugh and make funny faces – just get over it!
What to do if your tape comes off
After a night or two (some people feel nervous at first) you should be able to wake with your mouth still taped. If not….
- Make sure you taped your mouth correctly
- Treat your allergies with Quercitin or D-Hist, and homeopathic Histaminum. Handle the allergens in your environment, like the cat that sleeps on your pillow… Try a Neti Pot.
- You may have a chronic sinus infection. Nutribiotic Nasal Spray may help.
- If you snore, remove Gluten and Dairy from your diet (you should do that anyway) to reduce mucous in the airway. Stop alcohol and lose weight. Try a pillow with a cervical curve that lifts your chin when you sleep.
- Ask your dentist or ENT doc if you have blockage in your sinus or a deviated septum.
Here’s a podcast I did with the world’s top practitioner and trainer for Buteyko Breathing. It’s really helpful if you want to learn more about how breathing affects your life!
How to Stop Snoring
Don’t let snoring ruin your relationship or a good night’s sleep. Learn what causes snoring and how you can cure it.
Just about everyone snores occasionally, and it’s usually not something to worry about. Snoring happens when you can’t move air freely through your nose and throat during sleep. This makes the surrounding tissues vibrate, which produces the familiar snoring sound. People who snore often have too much throat and nasal tissue or “floppy” tissue that is more prone to vibrate. The position of your tongue can also get in the way of smooth breathing.
If you regularly snore at night it can disrupt the quality of your sleep—leading to daytime fatigue, irritability, and increased health problems. And if your snoring keeps your partner awake, it can create major relationship problems too. Thankfully, sleeping in separate bedrooms isn’t the only remedy for snoring. There are many effective solutions that can help both you and your partner sleep better at night and overcome the relationship problems caused when one person snores.
Since people snore for different reasons, it’s important to understand the causes behind your snoring. Once you understand why you snore, you can find the right solutions to a quieter, deeper sleep—for both you and your partner.
Common causes of snoring
Age. As you reach middle age and beyond, your throat becomes narrower, and the muscle tone in your throat decreases. While you can’t do anything about growing older, lifestyle changes, new bedtime routines, and throat exercises can all help to prevent snoring.
Being overweight or out of shape. Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring. Even if you’re not overweight in general, carrying excess weight just around your neck or throat can cause snoring. Exercising and losing weight can sometimes be all it takes to end your snoring.
The way you’re built. Men have narrower air passages than women and are more likely to snore. A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes that contribute to snoring are often hereditary. Again, while you have no control over your build or gender, you can control your snoring with the right lifestyle changes, bedtime routines, and throat exercises.
Nasal and sinus problems. Blocked airways or a stuffy nose make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring.
Alcohol, smoking, and medications. Alcohol intake, smoking, and certain medications, such as tranquilizers like lorazepam (Ativan) and diazepam (Valium), can increase muscle relaxation leading to more snoring.
Sleep posture. Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway. Changing your sleep position can help.
Ruling out more serious causes
Snoring could indicate sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder where your breathing is briefly interrupted many times each night. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea, so if you’re suffering from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day, it could be an indication of sleep apnea or another sleep-related breathing problem. Call your doctor if you or your sleep partner have noticed any of the following red flags:
- You snore loudly and heavily and are tired during the day.
- You stop breathing, gasp, or choke during sleep.
- You fall asleep at inappropriate times, such as during a conversation or a meal.
Linking the cause of your snoring to the cure
Monitoring your snoring for patterns can often help you pinpoint the reasons why you snore, what makes it worse, and how to go about stopping it. To identify important patterns, it helps to keep a sleep diary. If you have a sleep partner, they can help you fill it in. If you sleep alone, set up a camera to record yourself at night.
|HOW you snore reveals WHY you snore|
|Type of snoring||What it may indicate|
|Closed-mouth snoring||May indicate a problem with your tongue|
|Open-mouth snoring||May be related to the tissues in your throat|
|Snoring when sleeping on your back||Probably mild snoring—improved
sleep habits and lifestyle changes may be effective cures
all sleep positions
|Can mean your snoring is more severe and may require a more comprehensive treatment|
Self-help strategies for snoring
There are so many bizarre anti-snoring devices available on the market today, with more being added all the time, that finding the right solution for your snoring can seem like a daunting task. Unfortunately, many of these devices are not backed up by research, or they work by simply keeping you awake at night. There are, however, plenty of proven techniques that can help eliminate snoring. Not every remedy is right for every person, though, so putting a stop to your snoring may require patience, lifestyle changes, and a willingness to experiment with different solutions.
Bedtime remedies to help you stop snoring
Change your sleeping position. Elevating your head four inches may ease breathing and encourage your tongue and jaw to move forward. There are specifically designed pillows available to help prevent snoring by making sure your neck muscles are not crimped.
Sleep on your side instead of your back. Try attaching a tennis ball to the back of a pajama top or T-shirt (you can sew a sock to the back of your top then put a tennis ball inside). If you roll over onto your back, the discomfort of the tennis ball will cause you to turn back onto your side. Alternatively, wedge a pillow stuffed with tennis balls behind your back. After a while, sleeping on your side will become a habit and you can dispense with the tennis balls.
Try an anti-snoring mouth appliance. These devices, which resemble an athlete’s mouth guard, help open your airway by bringing your lower jaw and/or your tongue forward during sleep. While a dentist-made appliance can be expensive, cheaper do-it-yourself kits are also available.
Clear nasal passages. If you have a stuffy nose, rinse sinuses with saline before bed. Using a neti pot, nasal decongestant, or nasal strips can also help you breathe more easily while sleeping. If you have allergies, reduce dust mites and pet dander in your bedroom or use an allergy medication.
Keep bedroom air moist. Dry air can irritate membranes in the nose and throat, so if swollen nasal tissues are the problem, a humidifier may help.
Lifestyle changes to help you stop snoring
Lose weight. Losing even a little bit of weight can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease, or even stop, snoring.
Quit smoking. If you smoke, your chances of snoring are high. Smoking irritates the membranes in the nose and throat which can block the airways and cause snoring. While quitting is easier said than done, it can bring quick snoring relief.
Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, and sedatives because they relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing. Also talk to your doctor about any prescription medications you’re taking, as some encourage a deeper level of sleep which can make snoring worse.
Be careful what you eat before bed. Research shows that eating large meals or consuming certain foods such as dairy or soymilk right before bedtime can make snoring worse.
Exercise in general can reduce snoring, even if it doesn’t lead to weight loss. That’s because when you tone various muscles in your body, such as your arms, legs, and abs, this leads to toning the muscles in your throat, which in turn can lead to less snoring. There are also specific exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles in your throat.
Six anti-snoring throat exercises
Studies show that by pronouncing certain vowel sounds and curling the tongue in specific ways, muscles in the upper respiratory tract are strengthened and therefore reduce snoring. The following exercises can help
- Repeat each vowel (a-e-i-o-u) out loud for three minutes a few times a day.
- Place the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth. Slide your tongue backwards for three minutes a day.
- Close your mouth and purse your lips. Hold for 30 seconds.
- With your mouth open, move your jaw to the right and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the left side.
- With your mouth open, contract the muscle at the back of your throat repeatedly for 30 seconds. Tip: Look in the mirror to see the uvula (“the hanging ball”) move up and down.
- For a more fun exercise, simply spend time singing. Singing can increase muscle control in the throat and soft palate, reducing snoring caused by lax muscles.
Medical treatment for snoring
If you’ve tried self-help solutions for snoring without success, don’t give up hope. There are medical options that could make all the difference. New advances in the treatment of snoring are developing all the time and devices are becoming more effective and comfortable.
Talk to your primary physician or to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor or ENT). Even if they recommend something that was uncomfortable or didn’t work in the past, that doesn’t mean the same will be true now.
Medical cures for snoring
Your physician or otolaryngologist may recommend a medical device or surgical procedure such as:
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). To keep your airway open during sleep, a machine at your bedside blows pressurized air into a mask that you wear over your nose or face.
Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) uses a laser to shorten the uvula (the hanging soft tissue at the back of the throat) and to make small cuts in the soft palate either side. As the cuts heal, the surrounding tissues stiffen to prevent the vibrations that trigger snoring.
Palatal implants or the Pillar procedure, involves inserting small plastic implants into the soft palate which help prevent collapse of the soft palate that can cause snoring.
Somnoplasty uses low levels of radiofrequency heat to remove tissues of the uvula and soft palate that vibrate during snoring. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and takes about 30 minutes.
Custom-fitted dental devices and lower jaw-positioners help open your airway by bringing your lower jaw or your tongue forward during sleep. For best results, you will need to see a dentist who specializes in these devices.
Surgical procedures such as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP), tonsillectomy, and adenoidectomy, increase the size of your airway by surgically removing tissues or correcting abnormalities.
Snoring and your relationship
No matter how much you love each other, snoring can put a strain on your relationship. If you’re the one lying awake at night as your partner snores away, it’s easy to start feeling resentful. And if you’re the snorer, you may feel helpless, guilty, or even irritated with your partner for harping on about something you can’t control.
When snoring is a problem, relationship tension can grow in the following ways:
Sleeping in separate rooms. While this may be a solution for some couples, it can also take a toll on emotional and physical intimacy. And if you’re the one snoring, you might feel lonely, isolated, and unfairly punished.
Irritability due to sleep loss. Disrupted sleep isn’t just a problem for the non-snorer. Snoring is caused by disordered breathing, which means the snorer’s sleep quality also suffers. Poor sleep takes a toll on mood, thinking skills, judgment, and your ability to manage stress and conflict. This can explain why communication often breaks down when you and your partner try talking about the problem.
Partner resentment. When a non-snorer feels he or she has done everything possible to sleep through the night (ear plugs, sound machines, etc.) but the snorer doesn’t take any action to combat the snoring, it can lead to resentment. Working as a team to find a snoring cure can prevent future fights.
If you value your relationship, make it your priority to find a snoring cure so you can both sleep soundly. Working together to stop snoring can even be an opportunity to improve the quality of your bond and become more deeply connected.
Communicating with a partner who snores
So, you love everything about your partner, except their snoring. It’s normal. Even the most patient amongst us will draw the line at sleep deprivation. But no matter how much sleep you lose due to someone snoring, it’s important to handle the problem sensitively. It’s common to be irritable when sleep loss is an issue, but try reining in your frustration. You want to attack the snoring problem—not your sleep partner. Remember that your partner likely feels vulnerable, defensive, and even a little embarrassed about their snoring.
Time your talk carefully. Avoid middle of the night or early morning discussions when you’re both feeling exhausted.
Keep in mind it’s not intentional. Although it’s easy to feel like a victim when you lose sleep, remember that your partner isn’t keeping you awake on purpose.
Avoid lashing out. Sure, sleep deprivation is aggravating and can be damaging to your health, but try your best to approach the problem in a non-confrontational way.
Beware of bitterness. Make sure that latching onto snoring is not an outlet for other hidden resentments you’re harboring.
Use humor and playfulness to bring up the subject of snoring without hurting your partner’s feelings.
Laughing about it can ease tension. Just make sure it doesn’t turn into too much teasing.
Dealing with complaints about your snoring
It’s common to be caught off guard—not to mention to feel a little hurt—when a partner complains about your snoring. After all, you probably didn’t even realize it was happening. And although it might seem silly that snoring can cause such relationship turmoil, it’s a common and a very real problem.
If you dismiss your partner’s concerns and refuse to try to solve your snoring problem, you’re sending a clear message to your partner that you don’t care about their needs. This could mean your relationship is in trouble, and that’s a bigger problem than the snoring.
Keep the following in mind as you and your partner work together to find a solution to your snoring:
Snoring is a physical issue. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Like a pulled muscle or a common cold, improving the condition is in your hands.
Avoid taking it personally. Try not to take your partner’s frustration as a personal critique or attack. Your partner loves you, just not the snoring.
Take your partner seriously. Avoid minimizing complaints. Lack of sleep is a health hazard and can make your partner feel miserable all day.
Make it clear that you prioritize the relationship. If you and your partner have this understanding, you’ll both do what it takes to find a cure for the snoring.
Address inappropriate behavior. Although sleep deprivation can lead to moodiness and irritability, let your partner know that it’s not okay for them to throw an elbow jab or snap at you when you’re snoring.
Sleep Hack: How I Learned to Sleep Better With Mouth Taping
Mouth taping has its origins in something called the Buteyko Method, created by Russian doctor Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko, which studies the connection between the way we breathe and overall health. The practice largely focuses on “functional breathing,” or breathing in and out of the nose. Practitioners of the method claim that it improves a number of health issues, including anxiety, ADHD, insomnia, asthma, and more.
This makes sense since, over millions of years of human evolution, our mouths were designed for talking and eating while our noses were designed to do the majority of our breathing. Taking things back to our ancestry, similar to the concept behind the paleo diet, comes with a surprising amount of benefits. And I discovered them firsthand after a week of forcing myself to breathe through my nose as I slept.
Tips for Optimal Mouth Taping
A few tips for those interested in trying this method:
Apply a thin layer of Vaseline to your lips before you adhere tape. This helps reduce the stickiness in the morning. If you feel nervous about completely covering your mouth, you can begin by taping from the top lip — sort of like a plastic mustache — and leave a little space for emergency breathing until you become more comfortable with it.
Use the right tape. Sure, you can use plain surgical tape if you’re the no-frills type. But there are brands like Somnifix that specialize in this kind of sleep process. Each Somnifix strip has a vent so that even if your nose gets completely stuffed up during the night, you can still breathe. And unlike surgical tape, they don’t leave any sticky residue on the lips.
Mold your tape to suit your needs. If you’re using surgical tape, tear off a bit more than you’ll need and fold the ends on each end under to create mini handles. This makes it easy to pull the tape back momentarily during the night if you need to take a sip of water, cough, or talk.
Help Your Body Adjust. You can also try taping your mouth for periods of time during the day so you get used to it.
Although Burhenne has seen many success stories in his own practice, there have not been any scientific studies to confirm that mouth taping is an effective technique for improving sleep. While the wider medical world has largely ignored the importance of nasal breathing and its relationship to overall wellness, Burhenne thinks that is changing now, based on the many success stories he has witnessed firsthand.
“People are frustrated with the answers they are getting from conventional medicine and have taken to the internet for answers,“ he says. “More and more people have tried this relatively simple practice and it has changed their lives.”
The jury is still out but the question remains: Would you try it?
Keep Your Mouth Shut, But Should You Tape It?
People compensate nasal breathing with mouth breathing. During sleep, especially during deep sleep with greater muscle relaxation, our jaws fall back and contribute to obstruction and apneic events . Arousals increase muscle tone and subsequently breathing occurs, usually through the mouth. And you want to tape the mouth shut?
Especially when it comes to children, the idea of mouth taping can, indeed, be dangerous. Even if used as a punishment, taping a child’s mouth shut can lead to some undesired effects. Many children have intermittent nasal stuffiness, for reasons as simple as a cold, allergies, or dryness. Taping a mouth shut will not make them breathe through their nose, especially if they can’t breathe through their nose in the first place, and it may restrict their breathing altogether.
Girl with tape over mouth.
Yes, noses are meant for breathing, not just for looking cute. But if your nose or a child’s nose isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do, find out why and address that before taping the mouth shut. If there is no blockage and the mouth remains propped open, why hasn’t anyone designed a study that proves that mouth taping actually works? Until then, take a deep breath (through your nose) and look into other options.
Editor’s intro: Mouth breathing is necessary when exercising, under threat, or during a cold, but nose breathing is the key to a healthier sleep process. Dr. Paul Henny offers some very interesting facts about night breathing and how it can affect your teeth, anxiety, and overall health.
by Paul A. Henny, DDS
We all breathe through our mouth part of the time. This is because mouth-breathing is necessary when we are exercising, working strenuously, under threat, or have a cold or sinus infection. These brief periods of mouth-breathing help us adjust oxygen flow to our body during periods of stress and challenge. This represents a proper use of our upper airway. At all other times however, mouth-breathing represents a dysfunctional use of our upper airway. In other words, when we use our mouth for breathing repeatedly and for extended periods of time, we are using it for a purpose that was never intended. This dysfunctional use of the upper airway causes maladaptive responses which have negative health implications.
For example, many of us are mouth- breathers part of the time, while we sleep. We initially lie down with open nasal passages and breathe comfortably through our noses. However, as the night progresses, nasal tissues swell while throat muscles simultaneously relax. This causes our relatively small airway to become more constricted. Blood oxygen and CO2 levels drop, triggering the brain into a “fight or flight” response through the influence of adrenalin and cortisol release. The adrenalin then awakens us enough to open the airway wider, and we subconsciously switch to mouth-breathing to further increase air volume. Consequently, a chronic and unhealthy sleep pattern is established: Increased Nasal Congestion > Mouth Breathing > More Adrenalin > Awakening = Poor Sleep Quality
Mouth breathing in this fashion is dysfunctional, therefore nose-breathing throughout the night should be the end-goal if at all possible. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, one possible way to transition back into becoming primarily a nose breather at night is through the seemingly odd practice of “mouth-taping.”
Mouth-taping is a way to encourage our body to increase our nasal air volume through more consistent use. The nasal passages are much like our muscle mass: it is a “use it or lose it” system. The more we use our nasal airway, the more it expands, and the more efficient it becomes at moving air (unless it is physically obstructed by polyps, a deviated septum, etc.)
Below are Five Reasons Why Nose- Breathing is Critically Important to Health
- Once transitioned to full nose-breathing, you will immediately realize deeper, more restful, sleep, often with less snoring. When we breathe through our nose effectively and efficiently, our heart rate decreases as the amount of adrenaline in our body declines. (If you have ever woken up in the middle of the night with your heart racing, you know what I am referring to here). A full night of nose-breathing will improve the oxygen level in your blood and reduce the amount of “brain fog” you experience in the morning.
- The nose is intended to warm, filter, and moisturize the air before it hits the throat and lungs. When we breathe through our mouths, the air hitting the back of our throat is cold, dry, and full of environmental contaminants such as allergens. To protect us from this unfiltered, dry air, the nasal passages over-compensate by excreting more mucus down the back of throat (“postnasal drip”). This in turn, causes congestion in the nose, which further impairs our ability to breathe through the nose, which leads to more mouth breathing! This self-perpetuating cycle can last a lifetime if not addressed.
- Mouth-breathing changes the pH of our mouth and the types of bacteria in the altered oral environment. A dry mouth with this different bacterial composition is then much more prone to dental decay, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. Common side effects include chronic bad breath, bleeding gums, frequent cavities, sensitive teeth, and shifting and loosening teeth.
- The brainstem interprets chronic mouth- breathing to be a “fight or flight” situation. In response, other parts of the brain signal to the adrenal glands to secrete more adrenalin to assist with the emergency. This causes us to awaken multiple times during the night and still feel exhausted in the morning. (Sleep apnea – where you actually stop breathing for extended periods of time, can cause this same outcome) By shifting your breathing to nose-only breathing at night, you will discover that you feel less anxious upon waking and on through the morning. Mouth-breathing is a dysfunctional form of “over-breathing.”
- Nitric oxide is a molecule created and released in many parts of the body which influences our strength, endurance, blood pressure, level of arterial inflammation, sleep quality, sexual functions, and memory. Nitric oxide produced and released by cells lining our sinuses and released into the air we breathe through our nose has critical impact on respiration, which controls our blood oxygen levels. Air taken in by mouth breathing contains almost no nitric oxide.
How to Tape Your Mouth to Enhance Nose-Breathing
- Purchase some 3M micropore surgical tape 2″ wide from the drug store or Amazon. This tape is thin, white, paper-based, and semi-transparent. (Some prefer 1″ wide tape)
- Use nasal irrigation with a mild saline solution using sterile water, and blow / clear your nose / use nasal spray if needed. (NeilMed’s Sinus Rinse, Xlear nasal spray, and Breathe Right Nasal strips may be helpful in the beginning)
- Apply a very light amount of edible oil such as olive oil or coconut oil to the area of the lips and skin where the tape will be in contact.
- Tear off 3-4 inches of tape and fold the ends under slightly to create easy “tear off handles,” in case you need to cough or say, “good night.”
- Put your lips together and puff them out a bit to create a little room for comfortable movement while asleep.
- Gently compress the tape horizontally over your lips and onto the surrounding skin.
If the idea of taping your mouth closed makes you anxious, it’s best to start out while awake in the evening before you go to bed. By telling yourself that you can, indeed, breathe just fine through your nose, you assure your subconscious brain that it’s safe. You can also try partial taping of your mouth by using the tape vertically (leaving the corners of your mouth un-taped) for a few nights until you get accustomed to the feel of the tape and your nasal passages have expanded.
Starting with good habits and avoiding mouth breathing starts early. Read “How children breathe sets the stage for life,” by Dr. Daniel S. Bruce and Bethany Bewley here.