While people joke about it, mouth breathing is not a laughing matter. If it was, nobody would ask how to stop mouth breathing at night or how to sleep with your mouth closed…
Do you know why I am saying there is nothing funny about it?
Sleeping with mouth open can lead to significant health problems…
In children, it may cause facial deformities, crooked teeth, or retarded growth! Things aren’t any better for in adults…..
Sleeping with mouth open may bring gum disease, bad breath, or worsen the symptoms of any other illness.
Do you now agree that mouth breathing shouldn’t be taken lightly?
Great. So, recently I interviewed Dr. John Stanley – a breathing therapist in my quest to know how to stop mouth breathing at night.
Before I take you to the talk, know that this post is just for information purposes only…remember all medical problems should be tackled with the help of a physician.
Let’s now get down to business.
I started by quizzing him about causes
What Causes Sleeping With Mouth Open?
According to Dr. Stanley, an obstructed nasal airway is the main cause.
Even a partial blockade will still cause breathing problems.
When your nose is obstructed, the body turns to alternative ways of providing oxygen — your mouth.
So, What Causes Your Nose To Block?
A blocked nose has a number of causes. They include:
- Expanded adenoids
- Stretched tonsils
- Nasal congestion-this itself could be brought about by a cold, an allergy, or even a sinus infection
- The size and shape of your jaw
- How your nose is shaped
- Swollen turbinates
- Deviated septum
- Growths of tissue along the lining of your nose(nasal polyps)
- Obstructive sleep apnea,
Why Breathing Through Your Nose Is The Real Deal…
Well, I hope you know how to breathe through your nose even when sleeping because it makes you rich -health wise (Those are Dr. Henry’s words- not mine).
If not, seek mouth breathing treatment immediately.
Here is how breathing through your nose makes you ‘wealthier’:
- It Purifies Air
Air naturally carries lots of impurities and harmful microbes. But when such contaminated air reaches your nose, the mucus lining filters everything so only 100% pure air passes through.
- Warms Intake Air
Freezing air can introduce some health complications or worsen some symptoms like sinus infections.
So, the mucus lining goes out of its way to warm and moisturize your air before contact with your throat thus saving you from worsened symptoms.
- Supplies Sufficient Oxygen
Hardly will your organs be well aerated when you breathe through your mouth. But with nasal breathing, everything gets a healthy dose of air supply meaning you get to avoid many potential health challenges.
Adequate oxygen supply leads to;
- Better hydration
- Improved memory
- Enhanced immunity system
- Reduced stress
- Balanced blood pH
- Higher energy and vitality
If you are a mouth breather, you should strive to know how to stop mouth breathing at night otherwise, as you can see, you will be missing out and risking your health
Who Is At The Risk Of Getting Mouth Breathing Problems?
According to Dr. Henry, no one is immune from developing mouth breathing problems.
However, some carry a higher risk. These include people with the following conditions:
- Persistent allergies and allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
- Stress and anxiety
- Stubborn sinus infections
“If you have these conditions, and then find you are often forced to sleep with mouth open, then consult your medic before things go out of hand” Says our Doc.
This Is How To Tell If You Are Breathing Through Your Mouth…
I then asked him “What about those who don’t know that they breathe through their mouth?”
“Well, it’s true that when you are sleeping you can’t tell if you breathing through your mouth instead of your nose but luckily, there are some unmistakable symptoms…” He started…
- Brain fog (mental confusion)
- Heavy snoring
- Dry mouth
- Huskiness (voice sounding croaky)
- Extreme exhaustion
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Waking up feeling weary and irritable
- Having dark circles just under your eyes”
And For Kids…
- Crying more at night
- Lack of concentration at school
- Growing at a slower rate
- Dry, and cracked lips
- Larger tonsils
- Short temper
- Being sleepy during the day
Problems Caused By Mouth Breathing.
“Sleeping with mouth open causes a number of health and related problems” Advised my Doctor friend
Let’s start with effects on grown-ups…
For adults, you will escape the following problems once you learn how to stop being a mouth breather;
- Dry Mouth
Mouth breathing causes your mouth to always remain extremely dry. Consequently, bacteria which are normally washed from your mouth by saliva hang around.
With dangerous bacteria happily lying around, anything can happen. You may suffer from
- Bad breath (halitosis/ malodor)
- Infections that destroy the structures supporting your teeth (periodontal disease)
- Various throatand ear infections including Difficulty in swallowing, sore throat or ear ache
- Low Oxygen
Mouth breathing can cause lower oxygen levels in your blood.
Recall that low oxygen worsens high blood pressure apart from causing heart failure.
Mouth breathing could also affect the way your lungs work. This escalates the symptoms for people living with asthma.
Now, let’s move to children…
Mouth breathing may cause numerous physical abnormalities in addition to pronounced cognitive challenges.
If ignored, mouth breathing in babies my cause:
- Excessive gingival display (gummy smiles)
- Narrow mouths
- Abnormal posturing
- Misalignment of teeth
Not only that:
Children rarely sleep when they have mouth breathing problems.
“And we know lack of sleep is bad news for your young ones” continued Dr. Henry
With poor sleep, more problems arise…including
- Slower than normal growth
- Poor grades at school
- Failure to concentrate in class
- Disturbed sleep
Ending the interview without asking how you can prevent mouth breathing and how to stop breathing through mouth would have been an injustice….
“Now, can you advise us on how to prevent mouth breathing?” I asked.
“Well, well, there are quite a number of tips I share with my patients.”
“Ok, Doctor. Go on I am recording to make sure I don’t miss any”
This what Dr. Henry advises…?
Preventing Mouth Breathing.
“At first, let me point out a few things”
- If you have a stubborn mouth breathing problem and you’ve been told that its caused by the shape of your nose or face, then, prevention is harder
- If it’s caused by cold or allergies, you should act on your allergy or throat to ensure mouth breathing doesn’t become chronic.
- In case you are stressed or anxious, engaging in yoga or any other meditation practice is beneficial as you have to breathe through your mouth – at least during your yoga session.
“Otherwise, this is what I tell my clients”
Exercising helps stop mouth breathing. Cardio and Yoga exercises improve your breathing.
- Saline Mist
If you are embarking on a long flight or cruise, carry and use a saline mist
- Optimal Sleeping Position
Adopt an optimal sleeping position. Guys who sleep on their back take heavier breathes and may bring mouth breathing problems.
Learn to sleep either on your side/stomach
- Buteyko Breathing/Nose clearing Technique
This is a simplified nose clearing exercise which helps restore your pattern. It’s not only very effective but also free.
It goes like this:
- While in a sitting position, close your mouth.
- Then, breathe normally – via the nose- for 2-3 minutes
- After this, breath in as much air as possible
- Now, press your nose with fingers to lock the air in
- Hold it for as long as you can
- When you can’t hold it anymore, release the air gradually through your nostrils.
- All along, keep your mouth closed.
- Repeat these steps severally until you feel comfortable
Overall, during the day, train to breathe through your nose. This forces you to form a habit of nasal breathing.
- Tapping Your Mouth
Tap your mouth- Seriously, it works.
You see, get a surgical tape plus some cream. Cut a piece of tape, apply the cream, then stick the tape on your mouth- across or horizontally.
It keeps your mouth shut so, the only way to breathe is by using the nose!
- Saline Nasal Spray/Mists Plus Nasal Decongestants
For allergy or cold induced mouth breathing problems, apply saline nasal spray/mists plus nasal decongestants and allergy relievers the first moment you sight your allergy or cold symptom
Sleep with a mouthguard provided it’s comfortable. It will help keep your mouth shut as you sleep.
- Elevated Sleeping
To ensure your airways remain open while asleep, ensure your head remain elevated while asleep.
- Chin Strips
These horse-shaped anti-snore tools support your chin as you sleep and help stop mouth breathing
- Clean Your Living Spaces
Always keep your living spaces free of allergens and clean
- Modify Your HVAC Installations
To curtail the movement of allergens, ensure that all your heat & air conditioning (HVAC) installations have an air filter.
How To Treat Mouth Breathing.
The first step is to perhaps to learn how to sleep with your mouth closed. Or to put it better, how to stop sleeping with your mouth open…
Actually, it starts with asking why do i sleep with my mouth open? That’s because treatment largely depends on its cause.
Here are some of the suggested treatments for both adults and younger children;
1. Nasal Decongestants, Sprays, And Antihistamines
Earlier we learned that if it’s caused by colds and allergies, acting on them should heal your mouth breathing problems.
You can go for
- Steroid nasal sprays
- Nasal decongestants
2. Adhesive Strips
An Adhesive strip applied to your noses’ bridge can help breathing.
3. Nasal Dilator
This is a special type of adhesive which is applied across your nostrils. It helps to reduce airflow resistance thus you breathe via your nose a bit easier.
4. CPAP (continuous-positive-air-pressure therapy)
Your doctor will recommend that you wear this face mask appliance when sleeping at night.
It delivers fresh air to the nose and your mouth via a mask.
Note that this is recommended only if suffer from obstructive sleep apnea
For children, surgically removing the swollen tonsils plus the adenoids heals mouth breathing.
6. Braces And Related Appliances
Sometimes dentists recommend that your kid wears any appliance that can widen his palate. It should open his sinuses and nasal airways.
If not, he may prescribe braces or any other orthodontic treatments.
Thanks to my friend, we now know how to stop mouth breathing at night, and how to sleep with mouth closed.
And this is important because mouth breathing can bring potentially serious health problems.
So, if you are a victim, try and train how to stop mouth breathing – you will avoid so many problems and generally improve your health.
Otherwise, after having all my questions answered (and worries confirmed), I was happy to bid my friend Dr. John Stanley goodbye.
I also promised to forward him your comments so please drop them here.