What is mouth taping? Tess Daly joins celebrities in praising the sleep practice

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14: Tess Daly attends the 2023 BAFTA Television Awards with P&O Cruises at The Royal Festival Hall on May 14, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images)
Tess Daly is one of many celebrities that have recently praised the sleeping hack. (Getty Images) (Joe Maher via Getty Images)

Your nighttime ritual might go a little something like this: you brush your teeth, wash your face, get into some cosy pyjamas and snuggle up under the covers. But it appears more and more people are adding an extra step before they slide into dreamland – mouth taping.

The trend, which involves putting a piece of tape over your lips before going to sleep, gained popularity on TikTok, where the hashtag #mouthtape has racked up more than 127.2 million views. It has also been endorsed by celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Graham, Julia Bradbury, and now, Tess Daly.

In a new interview with The Times, the 54-year-old Strictly Come Dancing presenter said she "sometimes" sleeps with her mouth taped shut so that she breathes only through her nose.

"It's better for your immune system and for your skin," she said. "We get dehydrated when we breathe through our mouths and then we're baggy eyed in the morning."

Recently, Bradbury spoke about the benefits of mouth taping during an interview on BBC Radio Wales, and said that the unusual tip has helped her “promote [her] nasal breathing during the night".

"We all breathe too fast and we tend to breathe through our mouths and that’s not good for our health," she told the programme. "The best thing you can do for your health is learn how to breathe through your nose and some people will go, ‘I can’t breathe through my nose, it’s blocked.'

"There’s a nose-blocking exercise which helps you with that, the more you sleep [breathing] through your nose, the better you get at it. I sleep with tape, a tiny little thin tape, across my mouth at night to encourage me at night to breathe through my nose. It’s just a little tiny bit of tape that goes from underneath my nose to underneath my bottom lip."

Does mouth taping actually have any health benefits?

Advocates of the trend claim that mouth taping brings a number of health benefits to those who practice it. However, the Sleep Foundation has warned that such benefits are largely anecdotal, as no major studies have analysed whether it can really improve health.

Breathing through your nose rather than your mouth can help filter out allergens and dust, as well as adding resistance that benefits lung volume and delivers warmer, more humid air to the lungs.

Other benefits may include the reduction of:

  • Snoring

  • Dry mouth

  • Sleep-disordered breathing

  • Cavities

  • Gum disease

  • Bad breath

  • Tiredness

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD symptoms)

However, further research into the trend is required to determine if people who practice mouth taping are truly seeing improvements in these areas as a result.

Read more: Over 20% Of People Have This ‘Dangerous’ Sleep Disorder (HuffPost UK, 2-min read)

What do the experts say?

Medical professionals have warned that mouth taping is not suitable for everyone and you should seek advice from your GP before trying it.

Dr Lawrence Cunningham from UK Care Guide tells Yahoo UK: "It is something I ask people to try in limited scenarios [because] the practice isn’t suitable for everyone, especially those with certain medical conditions such as nasal congestion or sleep apnoea, as it can be very dangerous.

"It can block your airflow, which would make it harder for you to breathe as you sleep. It can also lead to sleep apnoea."

Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click, adds that patients with undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), who are largely mouth-breathers, could be "at risk of adverse health effects" if they try mouth-taping.

This is particularly dangerous "if they have obstructed nasal passages because mouth taping could potentially restrict airflow", he says. "They could also experience nighttime awakenings and, in extreme cases, taping could potentially contribute to asphyxiation."

What are the other risks of mouth taping?

Mouth taping can also cause irritation of the skin around the lips and pain when ripping it off, particularly for people with facial hair.

Some people may also feel anxiety if they are uncomfortable with having their mouth taped shut.

Should you seek medical advice before trying mouth taping?

According to both Dr Lawrence and Kanani, the answer is: yes.

"While mouth taping may have benefits for some, it is not a universal remedy, and comes with a lot of risks. It's essential to consult with your GP before beginning this practice. Remember, what works well for one individual may not be suitable or safe for another," Dr Lawrence says.

Kanani adds: "Anyone who struggles with nasal airflow should consult a doctor before trying mouth tape… Mouth taping may not be the most effective way to treat chronic snoring or sleep disturbances, it's important to find out the underlying causes so you can effectively treat symptoms through lifestyle changes and specialist devices such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine."

Read more: What is sleep paralysis and how can you prevent it? (Yahoo Life UK, 6-min read)