Have you ever found yourself waking up with a dry mouth, wondering what makes you sleep with your mouth open at night?
Well, we all are unique, and so are our sleep habits. Some of us may find ease sleeping on the back, while others may find comfort in the side or stomach sleeping position.
Like our sleep positions, nighttime breathing habits also vary from person to person.
Mouth breathing is a common habit that many of us may share during sleep. However, we should be aware of how breathing through the mouth can impact our health and wellness.
In today's article, we’ll explore what causes mouth breathing along with its potential complications. Also, we’ll learn more about effective ways to reduce mouth breathing and restore the natural process of nasal breathing.
Why Do You Sleep With Your Mouth Wide Open?
Sometimes, a common cold or flu may push you to breathe through the mouth, which is not a serious issue. However, frequent or habitual mouth breathing can be a matter of concern.
Below are some common factors that push sleepers to breathe through the mouth instead of the nose.
Due to a common cold, allergies, or other respiratory problems, nasal congestion has become a common issue. In this condition, sleepers face difficulties breathing through their nose, so they start breathing through their mouth automatically.
Individuals with anatomical factors, like enlarged tonsils or deviated septum, might face challenges breathing through their nose. As a result, they sleep with their mouths open.
Sleeping on the back can sometimes encourage mouth breathing, especially if there are issues with nasal breathing. In this position, gravity may cause the jaw to drop open, encouraging breathing through the mouth.
Major Complications of Sleeping With Your Mouth Open
Sleeping with an open mouth may not trigger serious health issues but may cause some complications.
Saliva is an important bodily fluid that helps break down the food we eat into smaller particles. Also, it helps neutralize the bacteria and keep the mouth clean and healthy.
When an individual breathes through their mouth, it usually results in a dry mouth. Meanwhile, it can cause dental and other complications.
People sleeping with their mouths open can get yeast infections.
A dry mouth or a lack of enough saliva in the mouth can lead to a higher risk of cavities.
Severe dry mouth can lead to gum disease and loss of tooth enamel.
Mouth breathing obstructs saliva flow and triggers bad breath.
Due to an open mouth, one’s upper and lower teeth do not align, which may cause Malocclusion.
People with extreme dry mouth may face difficulties in speaking and eating.
People sleeping with their mouths open often experience a wet pillow. This is because the collected saliva seeps out from their open mouth.
Children sleeping with their mouths open face some severe complications.
Mouth breathing impacts facial development in children. Children breathing through their mouths have longer faces with receding chins or jaws than those who breathe through their noses. This is called “mouth breathing face”.
Some studies have shown that children who chronically breathe through their mouth develop behavioral disorders that are similar to those who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
5 Effective Ways to Stop Mouth Breathing During Your Sleep
To stop mouth breathing at night, first of all, you have to identify its main cause. Accordingly, you can take the necessary measurements to treat it.
Treating Nasal Congestion
Since nasal congestion is a common cause of mouth breathing, one needs to treat it first.
Try the following tips to treat nasal congestion:
Consider using a nasal decongestant spray. Ensure you don’t overuse it.
Holding the head over a bowl of hot water and breathing the steam is an effective solution for nasal congestion.
Keep your mattress and bed sheet clean to avoid dust allergens.
Consider switching your existing mattress to a hypoallergenic organic mattress to prevent common allergens from triggering nasal congestion.
Using Mouth Tape
Mouth taping can stop mouth opening during sleep.
In this process, you just need to cover your lips with a small piece of tape so that it can prevent your mouth from opening.
Some individuals have found it helpful to tape their lips at night before falling asleep, forcing them to breathe through their nose. This practice for a few weeks helped them restore their usual nasal breathing.
Changing Sleep Position
Your sleep position can affect how you breathe during sleep.
Sleeping on the back encourages mouth opening more than side or stomach sleeping. If side sleeping is uncomfortable for you, try placing supportive pillows to ease your difficulties of side sleeping.
Utilizing Nasal Strips
Nasal strips are another helpful solution for people needing help breathing through their nose.
These are adhesive strips that stick to the nose bridge. They help pull the nostrils outward using springs.
Some studies have found that nasal strips can effectively help reduce nasal congestion and improve breathing at night.
Avoiding Meals Just Before Bed
You may wonder about the connection between your nighttime meal and nighttime breathing.
Lying down immediately after eating can cause digestive juice to flow up into the mouth, nose, sinuses, and ears. This action can lead to inflammation and congestion, influencing mouth breathing.
Health specialists always recommend avoiding eating food, especially spicy ones, just before bed to achieve a healthy sleep.
The Bottom Line
Occasional mouth breathing during sleep may not be a concerning factor, but habitual mouth breathing can lead to several health complications, as described above.
If you find yourself or your loved ones consistently sleeping with their mouth open, consider consulting with a health specialist.