Breathing is a natural process of the human body which is often taken for granted. Most people do not pay attention to the process since we do it subconsciously.
Breathing ought to be taken more seriously because we derive oxygen which sustains life from it. However, the way you breathe while you’re awake or asleep affects your health immensely. Some common breathing practices that may induce snoring, sleep apnea and asthma include:
- Breathing through the mouth – we should breathe through the nose at all times
- Breathing too fast – breathing more than 14 times a minute
- Breathing with the upper chest instead of the diaphragm – causes exhaustion
- Breathing irregularly – breathing interrupted by sighing, snorting, coughing, etc.
- Breathing too much air – healthy breaths should be small and minute.
The focus of this article, however, centres on snoring with your mouth open. It is an often overlooked factor of snoring and sleep apnea; I very much want to raise awareness on the subject and eventually offer some solutions.
Before I do, let me explain how mouth breathing contributes to snoring.
How does Mouth Breathing Cause Snoring?
When it comes to snoring, too much emphasis is placed on the structure of our airways. Doctors and experts are quick to put the blame on what happens with our airways when we sleep.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s true that the tonality and structure of our airways affect snoring. When we sleep, our airways tend to grow narrow making the muscles around them loose enough to generate unpleasant sounds while we breathe.
Indeed, our airway structure does explain a great deal about snoring, but it is only a part of the picture.
The other part of the picture is how the volume of air you breathe in plays a pivotal role in snoring. It has been proven that the more air a person takes in, the more likely he or she is to snore due to the build-up of high pressure.
The high pressure comes as a result of too much air passing through too narrow airways during sleep. So, it stands to reason that if you open your mouth while you sleep, it will cause excess air to pass through your narrow airways which then results in sonorous snoring.
This is what happens when you breathe through your mouth during sleep:
- Your airways contract: An open mouth leads to a compressed throat which pushes your tongue back into your airways. The previously wide open spaces between your tongue and soft palate reduce considerably.
- Inhaled air becomes forced: Mouth breathing is more turbulent than nasal breathing. Breathing through your mouth causes the air coming in to vibrate your mouth’s soft tissues.
- Airway gets parched: Whereas nasal breathing humidifies the incoming air, mouth breathing certainly does not. This leaves your airways excessively dry.
- Your mouth takes in harmful things: Mouth breathing could leave you susceptible to harmful allergens and bugs which could worsen your snoring.
Although mouth breathing causes snoring, it isn’t the only factor that contributes to it. There are so many factors that can cause snoring and sometimes in the same individual—notable mentions include loose muscles (causing variations), inflamed muscles (narrowing of airways) and the tongue falling back (obstruction of airways).
Yes, you can snore with your mouth closed. So, if you do try some of my recommendations in the solutions section and discover that you still snore, then you may need a multi-faceted approach to tackling your snoring.
Identifying Mouth Snoring
Snorelab, an establishment which designed an app for measuring the severity of snores, says that: “If you snore and frequently wake up with a dry mouth and sore throat, it’s likely that mouth breathing was the cause.”
Self-diagnosis for mouth snoring can be difficult; to discover whether you are snoring through your mouth, it’s essential you have a partner who can monitor your breathing pattern at night.
The main identification of mouth snoring is the sound: it may come as a rumble or a loud fluttery noise. It is way more disturbing than a nasal snore, which is soft and faint. Also, if you discover that you only snore when your mouth is open, you are definitely a mouth snorer.
Nasal breathing is the right way to breathe. It not only reduces the risk of snoring, it has other benefits as well. Sadly, not many people breathe constantly with their nose. If mouth breathing is the primary cause of your snoring, and you want to eliminate snoring from your sleep, here are a few things you can do:
- Permanently switch to nasal breathing
- Unblock your nose by holding your breath
- Practice soft breathing before sleep
- Practice good sleeping position
- Tape your mouth closed using mouth breathing treatment procedures
The most important of these points, however, is to practice total nasal breathing.
Benefits of Nasal Breathing
“How we breathe during the day determines how we breathe during our sleep.” This is according to Patrick McKeown from the Buteyko Clinic International. He also says that our breathing pattern is most noticeable at night.
All of this true. This is why it is paramount for us to breathe through our noses at all times during the day in order to breathe better at night. So why should you switch to nasal breathing?
- It reduces snoring: As I mentioned before, nasal breathing humidifies incoming air. By doing so, it prevents your airways from getting parched. It also lets air sift through your breathing channels effortlessly. In a nutshell, nasal breathing is the remedy for snoring with your mouth open.
- Eliminates Sleep Apnea: If you’re having trouble sleeping, chances are you breathe through your mouth too often. Also, waking up tired and exhausted can be attributed to mouth breathing. Nasal breathing through air humidification makes you sleep well.
- Smoother Inhalation: Mouth breathing exposes your airways to dangerous pathogens which eventually worsen your snoring. The mouth basically lets anything in when it’s open. Your nasal cavity, however, has mucus, hair, and folds within in that traps these allergies and germs.
- Curbs Hyperventilation: Sometimes we take in more air than we should. In comparison to mouth breathing’s long and deep breaths, nasal breathing is characterised by frequent and shallow breaths. This enables proper ventilation in your air ducts and greatly reduces snoring.
Solution for Snoring with the Mouth Open
According to Wikipedia; “Some individuals breathe through their mouth through force of habit, perhaps due to a previous cause of nasal obstruction that is now corrected”. If you are someone who needs artificial help shutting your mouth while you sleep, then you should consider my list of recommended products.
(Before we explore these options, I’d like to flag that some of these recommendations contain affiliate links and the information provided is not intended to diagnose health problems or to serve as medical advice. You can check out my disclaimer page here!)
Mouth strips or Sleep tapes are papers tape that you can apply to your mouth to keep them closed. The 3M Micropore paper is a hypoallergenic surgical tape, which means it is gentle on the skin and doesn’t cause irritation. So if you snore with your mouth open, you can simply apply this tape whenever you sleep and it keeps your mouth sealed. By doing this, you encourage your body to breathe nasally. Customers on Amazon really love this product. A few noticeable reviews certify that it isn’t sticky and that it also holds on for long periods of time. A good alternative is the SomniFix Sleep Strips which, unlike the Micropore tape, is designed solely for fixing open mouth snoring.
Mouth guards or mouth shields do a fine job of defending the space between your lips when you unconsciously open your mouth during sleep. My recommendation here is the Somnipax Shield Mouth Guard. This particular mouth-guard is made of thin and light but durable materials which not only protects your mouth but allows free movement of your tongue and jaw. It even has two little slits sewn into it to allow mouth breathing if necessary. Chances are you may not like mouth guards as much as mouth strips though.
Chin straps are effective ways to keep your mouth shut at night. You wear them from under your chin reaching the top your head. I recommend the Anti-Snoring Chin Strap. It is elastic, so it fits anyone who wears it. This particular product is very effective in getting you to breathe nasally. It’s a good option for anyone looking to curb mouth snoring.
Mouthpieces are great solutions for snoring caused by mouth breathing. How do mouthpieces work? They help to bring your jaw forward which tightens slack airway tissues that cause snoring. I recommend ZQuiet Comfort System Starter Kit. The reviews on Amazon are somewhat mixed. Some customers said that it worked fine for them, others complained of teeth ache. I suggest weighing the product’s positive and negative reviews to see whether it’s the right fit for you.
Tongue retainers hold your tongue forward to stop it from receding into your mouth and blocking your airways. They do a great job at blocking your mouth breathing channel. I recommend Good Morning Snore Solution. They are not cheap and the reviews on Amazon
are quite conflicting. Some say it gives them a good night’s rest but others say it doesn’t stop drooling or teeth grinding. I also suggest weighing the reviews to see if it’s the right product for you.
Nothing compares to nasal breathing when you consider solutions to mouth breathing snoring. Doctors worldwide agree on the importance of nasal breathing not just for sleep but in our everyday life. It’s important that you pay more attention to your nasal breathing. It’s the right way to breathe.
If there is any way I can help you or if you have any questions about snoring please leave a comment below.