Sleep Expert Issues 'Serious Health Risks' Warning Over Viral TikTok Trend

People are taping their mouths shut overnight in the latest bizarre online trend—and one expert told Newsweek that the craze poses "serious" issues.

The internet appears to be discovering the benefits of breathing through your nose, which are supported by health experts, but the method being used has been called into question.

The idea is simple—take a small amount of tape and apply it to your middle of your lips to try to stop your mouth from opening at night. As the videos show, it's a very different look from the heavy movie mouth-taping that's done to keep people quiet.

Despite mouth-taping having been around for some time, with even journals and experts looking into it, this method has been gaining traction on social media app TikTok, with creators showing how they do it and advising others to take part.

The tag "#mouthtaping" has 23 million views across the platform and some videos on the technique have reached into the millions.

Benefits of nose breathing

Mouth taping might not be completely approved, but the benefits of nose breathing are universally agreed upon.

Newsweek spoke to sleep expert James Wilson, AKA The Sleep Geek, who works with organizations, sports teams and individuals and explained that: "There are benefits to breathing through your nose, which mouth taping is trying to encourage. Nose breathing is healthier than mouth breathing as it filters foreign particles out, it humidifies the air you breathe in and breathing through your nose helps dilate your blood vessels, which can help the body circulate blood more efficiently.

"Nose breathing also helps prevent tooth decay (yes really), reduces snoring, makes it less likely you will react to allergens, reduces the impact of asthma and even helps prevent bad breath."

Man with tape across mouth
A file photo of a man with tape across his mouth. Mouth taping has become a rising trend online. Getty Images

But should you do it?

To put it simply: no, says Wilson. "Unfortunately mouth taping is an extreme way of encouraging nose breathing that has some serious health risks," he explained.

A large cause of concern is the risk of sleep apnea, narrow nostrils or something blocking your nasal airways.

"If this is the case then taping your mouth will make your health worse and could contribute to more serious issues like heart disease, COPD and stroke, particularly if applied and you are a sleep apnea sufferer," said Wilson.

Instead, Wilson's advice for a good night of nose-breathing sleep is using breathing exercises to encourage it instead. He recommends alternate nostril breathing.

"Firstly, sit in a chair and relax your shoulders. Place your left hand on your left knee, take your right thumb, put over your right nostril and breathe in through your left nostril. Put your right ring finger over your left nostril and breathe out through your right nostril," instructed Wilson.

"Then breathe in through your right nostril keeping your right finger over your left nostril, then breathe out through your left nostril with your right thumb over your right nostril. That is one set, keep doing this for 5 minutes and do it every day for a week or two."