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Mouth Breathing Causes Exhaustion

These tips will help you get the high-quality sleep you deserve.


If you’ve woken up in the middle of the night with a dry mouth and feeling of disorientation, you’re not alone. These unpleasant nighttime symptoms can be caused by the act of breathing through your mouth rather than your nose. Turns out, it’s not just men who have issues with snoring. Luckily, there are actions you can take to minimize your mouth breathing and sleep peacefully.

Mouth breathing can increase your tiredness.

Mouth breathing significantly reduces nitric oxide, a substance produced in nasal passages that increases oxygen delivery to the lungs, says Ron Sinha, MD, an internal medicine specialist in Palo Alto, California. “By breathing through your mouth, you limit oxygen delivery to your lungs.” This causes carbon dioxide levels to drop, so oxygen isn’t released as easily to your body’s tissues. During the day, mouth breathing can trigger fatigue, and at night, it raises the risk of snoring, which worsens exhaustion.

Adding to the problem, mouth breathers tend to carry their head in a forward posture in an effort to get more air into the lungs. This puts extra tension on muscles and joints in the head and neck that can trigger pain.

Doctors typically diagnose mouth breathing based on symptoms, as well as the presence of problems like allergies, sinusitis, and polyps that can impair nasal breathing. If your doctor determines you can breathe through your nose freely, the steps below can help restore energy.

Taking ‘belly breaths’ retrains the body to restore nasal breathing.

Try sitting up in a relaxed position with one hand on your chest and one on your belly. With your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nose so your stomach expands against your hand (your other hand won’t move), then exhale slowly through your nose so your belly goes back to its original position. Repeat for 2 to 3 minutes a few times a day.

Try nasal rinsing.

It eases blockages caused by mucus and inflammation that encourage mouth breathing. Dr. Sinha advises using a neti pot filled with saline solution daily.

The ‘tape trick’ will send your energy soaring.

A technique known as mouth taping can decrease snoring by 65 percent, suggests recent research. In the study, patients with sleep apnea gently sealed their lips closed at night and found that the strategy stabilized their upper airways to reduce snoring severity and frequency, plus easing sleep apnea. Folks in the study used a silicone patch, but Sinha advises applying a strip of porous surgical tape across your mouth before bed. “Use just enough to keep your lips closed and experiment during the day to find out what’s most comfortable,” he says. “For many of my patients, mouth taping has been a game changer in terms of enhancing sleep.”

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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