Spend too long on TikTok and you might come across a new trend; people extolling the virtues of taping your mouth shut before you go to bed.
On top of the benefits of not being able to talk, proponents say that taping your mouth shut can promote everything from better sleep to weight loss. Though most seem to be using special tape designed for the purpose, there are those that recommend ("at your own risk") using bandage tape and even duct tape.
One of the main reasons cited by nose-breathers is that it can help stop them from snoring. While this may be true anecdotally, there isn't much in the way of scientific evidence backing these claims up, and medical experts are skeptical of the benefits.
David Schulman, president of the American College of Chest Physicians, told CNBC that taping your mouth shut is unlikely to help either your sleep or your health. In fact, if your snoring is caused by sleep apnea – where you periodically stop and start breathing during sleep – taping your mouth shut is a very bad idea.
“I do not advocate that patients tape their mouth for sleep,” Schulman told CNBC. “And certainly, if they snore and might have sleep apnea, that can get worse. So that’s particularly a dangerous thing to do.”
Regular, heavy snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, or of an anatomical obstruction in your nose, and it's important to find out from a physician.
“Let’s say they have a blockage in their nose," a spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Dr Raj Dasgupta explained to CNBC. "Could you imagine taping your mouth and your nose is blocked?”
Mouth tape has been used in the treatment of sleep apnea, one doctor told Vice. However, this is only as a way of improving the effectiveness of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines that blows air into you through a mask as you sleep, keeping the airway open.
“To be honest, I’m not sure I know of any study showing there is benefit for people who have no sleep apnea,” chief medical officer for the American Lung Association Albert Rizzo told Vice, though he added, "it may help from the standpoint of snoring, so it may help their bed partners—and it may allow the wearer to get a better night's sleep.”
Among the stranger claims by SomniFix, a company that makes "mouth strips" to promote nose breathing, is that breathing through your nose at night helps you lose weight.
"Molecules of fat consist of oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. The oxygen you breathe reaches your fat molecules and eventually breaks them down into just water and carbon dioxide," SomniFix write on their website.
"Your blood then takes the carbon dioxide down to your lungs, where it can be exhaled as waste. We literally exhale our fat! To make a long story short, the more oxygen that your body is using, the more fat you will burn."
While it is true that you do breathe out that weight loss, there's little in the way of evidence to suggest breathing through your nose at night would provide enough extra oxygen to burn off noticeable amounts of fat.