Nasal Breathing While You Sleep

By Greg Finch

breathe, breathing, exercise

When I first heard James Nestor interviewed on Fresh Air with Terry Gross he talked about mouth taping at night to promote nasal breathing throughout your sleep. I tried it sporadically for a few weeks. It intrigued me but I didn't stick with it consistently to see any results.

Fast forward a few months and I finished reading Nestor's very good Breathe: The New Science of a Lost Art and I committed to sticking with the technique to see firsthand its effects. 6+ months in of mostly nightly mouth taping and the results have been dramatic.

Here are the highlights:

  • Significantly more restful sleep
  • When I wake my mouth and throat are not parched and dry
  • Big reduction in snoring
  • Much more adapt at nose breathing in my waking hours. Those hours at night add up to really training your breath to default to nose breath
  • A tangible sense of calm more often that I directly attribute to the nasal breathing

Instructions for Nighttime Nasal Breathing

  1. Begin with Nasal Cleaning and Decongestion Protocol (Essentially, blow your nose).
  2. Use 1” 3M Micropore Gentle Paper tape. If your skin is sensitive to the adhesive, you can try 3M Sensitive Skin Tape. I also find the 1" Waterproof tape from Rite Aid to work fine.
  3. You can begin to get comfortable with mouth tape by using the tape while you’re awake-for 10 minutes and observe how your nasal sinuses pop open after a few minutes allowing you to breathe easily through your nose. Comfort sleeping follows comfort when you’re awake. Use the tape as much as you need when you’re awake for become more comfortable.
  4. Cut or tear the strips into an appropriate size for you. Use every night while sleeping unless you are sick to your stomach with a chance of vomiting. Through trial and error I've found the taping shown in the image above works best more me.
  5. It's not about full restriction but rather the tape is a reminder to your sleeping self to breath through your nose. The tape just makes the nose the path of least resistance and that is everything your Primal Brain is about.
  6. If you wake and notice that the tape has been removed during multiple nights this could be a sign that you continue to over-breathe and more daytime training may be required.
  7. Continued failure may be a sign of blocked nasal passages that you should follow up with an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor
  8. Fully retraining your body to breathe properly through your nose at night may take at least six months. But I and many of those in the Surf Strong Fit Community found improvement very quickly. 
  9. Now I find I can often go without the tape and will continue to nose breath. If I start to slide back to mouth breathing a night or two will remind and retrain the nose breathing.

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