The cursèd TikTok “sleep aid” trend is back.
Out of all the awful TikTok health trends out there, there’s one that always makes me gag: In Don’t Breathe horror film fashion, wellness influencers have suggested taping our mouths shut while we sleep to stop us from snoring. The fad has been around for a while but it’s making a comeback even though we’ve definitely gone over this before: It’s not a good idea to block your air passages while you sleep.
Among other things, health influencers are saying that taping their mouths shut has improved their sleep, helped them stop snoring, and helped with their asthma and allergies. Look, there are definitely health benefits to breathing through your nose — which is the intention behind the mouth taping.
Mouth-breathing dries up your mouth and can lead to bad breath as well as gum and ear disease, per VICE. Breathing through our nose, on the other hand, filters and cleans the air that’s going into our lungs and increases oxygen levels. The health benefits of breathing through our noses are very real, but taping our mouths shut not only looks goofy, but it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll breathe properly through your nose.
If you’re a heavy mouth breather or chronic snorer, chances are that there’s a physiological reason for that. Maybe you have allergies or something else that’s blocking your nasal passages, which is why your body is pushing you to breathe through your mouth in the first place.
In those instances, it’s best to see a doctor and figure out the root cause, since taping your mouth shut is not the move. “Not only can restricting our breathing during sleep result in sleep disruptions, but any obstruction of the mouth or airways is a suffocation risk,” Chun Tang, a family physician in Manchester, U.K. explains in a previous Mic story.
You could, instead, try sleeping on your side or with your head propped up on a taller pillow to open up those airways. Taping your mouth is ultimately like putting a BandAid on an amputated leg; finding the root cause of your heavy snoring or mouth breathing is a much better solution in the long run.
Although the benefits of taping your mouth shut could be genuine for the people who are promoting it, the problem is the way these health influencers are talking about this as though it’s something we should all be doing. Even though there are specially made strips with breathing slits built into them that may be safer, many are opting for homemade alternatives.
I read in horror as TikTok users were commenting that they were wrapping duct tape around their heads or using gorilla tape to keep their lips sealed. I can’t believe we have to say this *again* but please, for everyone’s sake, don’t do that.
If these health influencers on social media want to keep spreading this trend, they have a right to do so. We would just prefer it if they kept that tape on their mouths while they were doing it.