Can Mouth Taping Actually Help You Sleep Better? I Tried It for a Month (& Asked an Expert)

face tape uni
sarah stiefvater

I thought I’d seen it all when it came to interesting sleep accessories, from a nearly $400 “smart” sleep mask to a weighted sleep sack for adults. But a while back, a TikTok stopped me in my tracks: I can’t remember who the user was, but it was a straightforward bedtime routine video—skincare, brushing teeth, turning on white noise—until it wasn’t. See, this person, before laying their head on their pillow, put a rectangular piece of clear tape across their mouth—like, fully preventing them from breathing through their mouth. Proponents of mouth taping say that it can reduce snoring, improve bad breath and even fight fatigue. I forgot about it for a while, until I started seeing more and more folks on the app taping their mouths before going to sleep, and I had to: 1. Talk to an expert about whether or not it’s a good idea, and 2. Try it myself. I don’t snore and I don’t think I have bad breath, but like most people living in 2024, I am often tired, so that was the benefit I hoped to reap. Below, my findings. 

Meet the Expert

Dr. Mike Gradisar, Ph.D., is Head of Sleep Science at the sleep tracking app Sleep Cycle. Gradisar has more than two decades of expertise and a Ph.D. in psychology. Once a University Professor at Flinders University, he made a shift to democratize global sleep knowledge, taking on the role of Head of Sleep Science at Sleep Cycle. He has more than 140 published studies on topics from technology use and mental health to insomnia and circadian rhythms.

Buying the ‘Perfect’ Tape

Ready to embark on this little mouth taping adventure, I did what any modern gal on a budget would do: I opened Amazon and chose the mouth tape that hit the sweet spot between cheap and having a decent number of positive reviews. I settled on the Gentle Hypoallergenic Face Tape from the brand “Generic” (OK…?), and it arrived at my doorstep in about a day and a half. The mouth tape is a clear adhesive strip with a small opening in the center, to allow for a tiny amount of airflow. (There are cuter mouth tapes on the market, like The Skinny Confidential Mouth Tape—priced at $30 for 30 tapes—but I couldn’t resist a $10 option for 60 tapes.)

Taping My Mouth Shut

I was definitely a little scared to try fully taping my mouth shut before going to sleep (will I be able to breath at all?!), but honestly, I really didn’t notice it once it was on. There are two pretty big cons for me: First, you’re supposed to apply the mouth tape to clean, dry skin. I’m someone who goes to bed slathered in serums and moisturizers, so this proved to be a bit of a challenge, and my mouth tape did come unstuck a couple of times. Second, and this is kind of gross, so apologies, but when you take off the mouth tape in the morning, your mouth area feels weirdly moist from any air that’s been trapped between your skin and the adhesive strip, plus just a touch sticky. It’s the kind of sensory nightmare I wouldn’t wish on anyone first thing in the morning.  Still, despite those drawbacks, I think I would’ve stuck with mouth taping had I noticed any improvement in my tiredness throughout the day. Unfortunately, I didn’t really notice anything, but let’s see what the expert has to say.

The Expert’s Take

Of any potential health benefits to mouth taping, Gradisar explains, “In relation to sleep, the hypothesis is that mouth taping helps to decrease the severity of sleep apnea—a sleep disorder whereby oxygen is restricted or ceases altogether during sleep, which effectively creates multiple awakenings during the night and unrefreshing sleep.” Currently, he tells me, there has only been one small study to test said hypothesis—this one published in the journal Healthcare in 2022. “The results are promising, with those who performed mouth-taping showing a reduction in their sleep apnea severity. But we need many more studies to confirm mouth taping works, especially ones that compare mouth taping to some sort of placebo.”

There are, on the other hand, a number of risks associated with mouth taping, Gradisar tells me. First, he says that while people on social media—and yours truly—are taping their entire mouth by placing the tape horizontally, the idea is you place the tape vertically over the center of your lips, so there is still some room to breathe via the sides of your mouth. “If you have significant restriction breathing through your nose, you may not want to put all your eggs in the one basket, so to speak,” he says, adding, “And those who have experienced waking from sleep and having a panic attack, it would be wise not to try mouth taping.

Gradisar continues, “There's not enough reliable evidence to recommend mouth taping, especially when you consider the large body of scientific literature that supports other treatments, like CPAP and mandibular splints.” Still, he admits, because there are different types of sleep apnea, it’s important to see a respiratory sleep physician if you’re considering trying mouth taping to treat this condition.

The Bottom Line

All of this is to say that unless you have sleep apnea and have been advised by a medical professional to try mouth taping while sleeping, this is one wellness trend you can probably skip. I know I won’t miss the feeling of cringing as I gently peel off a strip of tape from my face every morning…

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...