Sleeping with your mouth open can be harmful to your health. In fact, sleeping with your mouth open has been found to cause an increase in the bacteria in your mouth. Dangers of sleeping with your mouth open can range from dry mouth to more severe symptoms.
This article will guide you on how to stop sleeping with your mouth open. Also, we will explore the common reasons why you sleep with your mouth open.
Why Are You Sleeping With Your Mouth Open?
Sleeping with your mouth open can be as a result of several factors which vary from one person to another. Some of these factors might need treatment while others can be stopped without treatment.
Sleeping with your mouth open can be caused by the following factors:
- Habitual: Some people sleep with their mouth open because they are used to it. This is a bad habit and if noticed should be stopped by all means. However, it is best to check out for other causes before making this conclusion.
- Mouth Breathing: This is usually seen in people who have some form of blockade to the airway or structural changes to the airway. The cause of mouth breathing is usually due to a restriction in airflow through the nose.
This can be caused by the following factors:
- Nasal Congestion: This is arguably the most common cause of changes to the airway. Nasal Congestion from allergies or infections narrows the nasal passages and sinuses. You automatically switch to mouth breathing to draw in more air.
- Airway Narrowing: A narrow airway (possibly from injury or disease) cuts off the air supply to the lungs. To compensate, the body draws more of the precious oxygen through the mouth and exhales more carbon dioxide.
- Displaced Nasal Septum: The cartilage separating the two sides of the nose, can sometimes be displaced. This shift can restrict airflow and make breathing more difficult.
- Growing Mass in the Nose: This is not very common, but tumors and polyps in the nose can also lead to an obstruction.
What are the Risks that Come With Open Mouth Sleeping?
Mouth breathing deprives you of some subtle but important benefits compared to nasal breathing. This is usually manifested in the form of several symptoms, such as waking up with a dry mouth, or dry throat at night.
If you often wake up in the morning with some of these symptoms, mouth breathing in the night might be the cause:
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
- Morning headaches
- Fogginess and difficulty concentrating
- Snoring (ask your bed partner or roommate)
- Gum disease and tooth decay
- Poor-quality sleep
Long term risks of sleeping with your mouth open can include:
- Yeast infection
- Permanent changes to your dentition
- Changes in the mouth or face
- Cardiovascular diseases due to poor sleep quality.
Benefits of Nasal Breathing
Mouth breathing can be detrimental to your health, unlike nasal breathing, which is beneficial. Here are some benefits of nasal breathing.
- Senses Smell: By smelling the air you're breathing, you can easily determine the quality of air you're breathing. You can easily smell harmful substances that can't be found through the mouth.
- Healthier Immune System: Nasal breathing produces nitric oxide (NO) which supports the immune system and works to combat infections.
- Controls Temperature: Your nose warms or cools any air that enters, regardless of the ambient temperature. It also humidifies the air. This helps the air to reach an ideal temperature for your lungs.
- Filtration: Little hairs and fingerlike projections line the internal surface of your nose. These help trap particles from the air, like allergens and dust.
How to Stop Mouth Breathing and Start Sleeping With Your Mouth Closed
There are many ways to get yourself to stop this habit and enjoy better sleep. These range from mindful breathing to surgery, in some rare cases. Hopefully, you can find something that works for you from among the less drastic measures.
During the day, consciously practice breathing through the nose. Be aware of how to breathe during the day, notice your breathing patterns and be aware of when you breathe through the mouth. This will reflect in your sleep.
Regular exercise teaches your body to favor its nasal air supply to get more clean oxygen to the lungs. You do not need to go full cardio, a daily walk or run (or even yoga) is enough to get the blood and the oxygen flowing through the proper channels.
Put an extra pillow below your head or slightly prop up the one you're using. Raising your head while sleeping helps keep your airways free. It may also help you keep your mouth from opening.
Clean your sleeping space regularly to eliminate airborne allergens which are probably clogging your nasal airways and forcing you to open your mouth. Also, invest in an air purifier and humidifier to keep the air clean and humid.
Mouth breathing can lead to restless sleep, but sometimes, mouth breathing can be caused by restless sleep. Make yourself comfortable at night. Monitor the temperature and humidity of your sleeping space.
An uncomfortable bed will affect your sleep negatively no matter what you do. Therefore, it is advisable to get a high-quality and comfortable mattress like those from egohome. This might just be the single solution to this problem.
A chinstrap loops around the top of your head and holds the chin, like a helmet strap without the helmet. It is usually fastened with Velcro for easy removal. It keeps your mouth closed while you sleep. You can easily find one at most retailers.
Mouth guards that prevent mouth breathing, or vestibular shields, are plastic coverings you put in your mouth, over your teeth, before you sleep. They're similar to boxers' mouth guards but are much smaller.
These devices force you to breathe through your nose. They can also prevent snoring from the mouth. You can get them from most large retailers and pharmacies.
A nasal dilator consists of two nasal clips that enter each nostril and a stent which holds both clips over your septum. This opens up your nasal passages and allows air to flow freely. This can be purchased over-the-counter at most pharmacies.
A nasal strip is an adhesive strip that sticks to the bridge of the nose and pulls the nostrils outward with strings. Research findings are inconsistent, but some studies have shown that nasal strips improve sleep quality. Nasal strips can be purchased at most pharmacies.
Mouth taping is recommended by some experts as a way to encourage nose breathing for an open mouth sleeper. You don't need to get duct tape to use this method.
A soft patch will do, as long as it is secure. There are few studies on mouth taping, but some report positive results like less snoring and fewer breathing disruptions while using sleeping tape.
These machines pressurize your airway during sleep so that your tongue and other soft tissues don't collapse and block airflow. They do a good job of keeping your airflow constant and preventing you from mouth breathing.
Address Medical Issues
If your nose is blocked because of an infection or allergic response, clear it out with a saline spray or nasal wash. A nasal wash clears your nasal passages of any obstructions and a saline spray reduces any swelling present.
Both can be obtained over-the-counter at any pharmacy. If you have a long standing nasal congestion, an ENT (Ear, Nose, And Throat) specialist may prescribe a stronger steroid spray.
See your doctor about any allergies you might have and discuss possible treatments. Treating your allergies takes care of the underlying problem and prevents future allergic reactions. Your doctor will also advise you on how to best avoid your allergy triggers.
This is physical therapy for the mouth and face. The patients are taught to train their mouth and throat muscles to work properly, which helps keep the airway open while they sleep.
Antihistamines are drugs that can open your nasal passages if your nasal congestion is being caused by allergens. They work particularly well if they contain a decongestant. It is best to see your doctor for a prescription.
If the blockages or abnormalities are structural, you might want to consider surgery to get a permanent solution. A displaced septum can block one side of your nose and reduce airflow.
The displaced septum can be corrected by surgery by an ENT specialist. You can also remove the tonsils or adenoids if they are enlarged. With surgery, you can remove excess tissue and restore your normal breathing rhythm.
Sleeping with an open mouth can be detrimental to your health. Fortunately, there are many ways to stop this bad habit and embrace nasal breathing. We hope you found a method here that truly works for you. Cheers to better sleep!