Revelations of the Paper Tape Sleep Revolution

Barbara Tritz
· January 10, 2023 ·

12 minutes

Want to sleep better, deeper, dream and wake refreshed? Here’s a secret- use your nose for breathing. So simple to say, yet most folks don’t. Their mouths “fall” open at night, they snore, they stop breathing, and then, no surprise, they wake groogy and tired. Here’s a simple thing to try – tape the lips together at bedtime. Paper tape (yes, from the first aid section of the grocery store) holds the lips together and you will sleep better. More on that shortly, but first:

He needs some paper taper…

Sleep

Sleep – we do not value it enough as an extremely important aspect of total systemic health. We cannot be healthy if we do not sleep well. One billion people worldwide stop breathing in their sleep – and they do not even know it. That’s a lot of snoring, bedwetting and gasping at night!

Let’s dive into why sleep matters and then, let’s start a revolution of better sleep. Read on for more important revelations.

When the mouth opens during sleep, the tongue falls into the throat and the airway is blocked. We are essentially holding our breath for anywhere from 10 seconds to upwards of two minutes. Our brain sends a “UH OH- dying here” message to the heart because there is a crisis- pump more blood, so blood pressure raises and then we turnover, wake, reposition the tongue and breathe. If this happened only once a night, that might be okay (not really) but it happens six to 60 times per hour for some people. That means they are choking all night long. No wonder people (children too) wake up tired, sick and in pain. You literally squeezed off your oxygen for the entire night. Oxygen is THE MOST IMPORTANT NUTRIENT. Holding your breath all night is truly not a good option- restating the obvious.

Cognitive Impairment

When we repeatedly sleep/wake/fall back to sleep we never get into the deeper stages of sleep. It is in those deeper levels that we take the short term memories and move them over to the long term memory storage.

We cleanse and detoxify the brain during these deeper stages by pumping out the garbage through the glymphatic system. It is our time to release growth hormone- important for both children and adults. We lower blood pressure, we heal, and we recharge. By never attaining the deeper layers of sleep we set ourselves up for chronic disease, with dementia being one of many.

Alzheimer’s dementia is set to triple by the year 2050. This looming crisis is so devastating. I am on a mission to change those statistics. Dementia is a lifestyle disease that can be avoided by 90% of people who succumb. Sleep is a very important component of prevention. For much more information on sleep- please review this oldie but goodie blog post-“Sleep Like Your Life Depends On It” – because it does. A new study out reports that oxygen deprivaton results in brain cell death and is a contributor to dementia. We need to pay attention to healthy breathing.

The Sleep Wellness Revolution

So, what’s a person to do? Where do you start this journey, this quest for better sleep? Here are some great things to consider:

#1. Sleep Hygiene and Other Stuff

As a dental hygienist, I like anything related to “Hygiene”.

A friend just reminded me what the definition of hygiene means:

Conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through cleanliness.

It is the art of perserving health. Sleep hygiene makes sense when looked at it through that lense. Tidy up your habits and see if that helps you sleep better so you can preserve your health:

  1. Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine – they are stimulants and can keep you awake. Caffeine has a half life of 12 hours. It blocks the neurotransmittor adenosine in your brain. Adensoine promotes sleep. Many folks assure me they are unaffected by caffeine and sleep just fine. Different folks have different tolerances so I say, lucky you! I cannot even have a piece of chocolate after 3 pm. The caffeine from that will affect me. Being aware is key. Alcohol reduces the quantity and quality of sleep. And, no surprise but nicotine is a stimulant.
  2. Regular exercise- 30 minutes a day, preferably in the morning so you get the morning sunrise, which is good for you. Real sunlight is so important for your health, it regulates the body’s circadian rhythm.
  3. Food- try to finish dinner three hours before sleep. Sleeping on a full stomach can induce weight gain, trouble managing blood sugar levels (which is the root of all chronic disease), and heart burn (gastorespohogeal reflux GERD). Stop the midnight snack, the nightcap, finish dinner earlier. Bet you sleep better.
  4. Animals – they really should be somewhere other than your bed or bedroom.
  5. Cool, comfortable, dark, and quiet bedroom. If that is not possilbe then blackout curtains, ear plugs, mask and a white noise machine are all good additions.
  6. No screens, distractions, or stimulating stuff. Easier said than done but really is one more instagram video worth it? Charge that phone in another room. The bedroom should be for intimacy and sleep. Period.
  7. Screen time – at least wear glasses that are blue light blockers. Geek that I am, I do wear these. Blue light is a powerful wavelength that stimulates the brain into thinking it is daylight. Blue light encourages wakefulness and prevents the brain from releasing melatonin. Melatonin helps us wind down and get ready for sleep. Geek out with me and wear those glasses if you are doing screen time.
  8. Bedtime routines are not just for children. Have a regular bedtime. Start going to bed and do the same routine every night, weekends too. This trains the circadian rhythm. I am reading a book by Dr Sachin Panda on the importance of honoring our circadian rhythms for systemic health. Amber lighting, quiet time, warm bath, meditation or yoga are all great to help you unwind from the craziness of the day.
  9. Avoid naps, especially ones that are longer than 20 minutes.
  10. And if you can’t fall asleep at night within 20 minutes, get up and do some quiet activity to help get you sleepy.

Sleep Apps Testing Tools

There are numerous sleep apps so download one and test yourself. Are you snoring? How deeply do you sleep? How many sleep cycles do you have? Are you getting REM sleep (REM- Rapid Eye Movement)?

With all the cool things we can test for with our phones, we might as well take advantage of technology and get as much information as possible. Test your children too. and Video them. They should never snore, ever and never sleep with their mouth open. NEVER… EVER. If they do, run, don’t walk, to a sleep airway dentist. This is a major problem brewing. Doubt me? please read Sleep Wrecked Kids by Sharon Moore or Gasp by Drs Hindin and Gelb. Check out my Bookshelf for all my favorites.

If your sleep app tells you that you snore, or that you never get REM sleep then join your child at that airway dentist. Airway dentists are hard to find so you may have to travel to one but they are worth the trip. Heart attacks, strokes, and dementia are all deeply connected to sleep disordered breathing. Your health could depend on it.

Sleep Study

Sleep studies – no one wants to go spend the night somewhere else, hooked up to wires and monitors and have someone watch you sleep. I get it. Did you know there are take home sleep tests, some as simple as a Sleep ring? It’s a great test and may be all you need. If your sleep issues are more involved, then give yourself some healthy pep talk and go have an in-lab test. Often take-home tests give us all the information needed to get a diagnosis. In our dental office, we have take home tests. We then download the results to a sleep medicine doctor who give us the diagnosis.

A word on Cpaps- Cpap stands for Continuous positive airway pressure. I have sleep apnea and I wear one. I love it, and I hate it. But I wear it every night. If you have trouble wearing one, take it back and ask them to refit your mask. It might be too small, or not the right fit. It took me several size and styles to find the right one for me. Don’t give up though, breathing is not optional.

Myofunctional Therapy

Orofacial myofunctional therapy should be standard in every single dental office and especially in every orthodontist office. Myo therapy for short, re-trains the tongue to be up on the palate where it belongs, and not in the airway where it cuts off breathing. The entire tongue should rest on the entire palate. If it cannot reach then the myo therapist can evaluate it and see where the problem is and what needs to be done to ensure a proper airway. Myo therapy alone can reduce sleep apnea by upwards of 50% in adults and 60% in children. This is huge!

Myo Therapy goals are to establish nasal breathing, proper tongue rest posture, lip seal, and proper swallowing. When that is all in harmony the face grows properly and there is enough room for the tongue on the palate,where it belongs. Then everything functions properly. Sleep apnea and other sleep breathing issues are no longer a problem. Unfortunately the dental industry does not know about myo therapy or even of the critical importance of nasal breathing. So, if someone tells you your mouth breathing child will “grow out of it” – take said child and again- RUN. Contact me and let’s find you a better dentist or doctor that understands the importance of developing the best airway possible, and of course a great myo therapist.

Airway Dentist

Which leads us right to the airway dentist. There is not a designated specialty for “airway dentist” like orthodontist, endodontist or oral surgeon. Instead, an airway focused dentist is someone who saw the need for additional training on airway development and the problems of improper breathing. They took it upon themselves to seek out other like-minded mentors and take as much educational training as they could to learn about why the face is collapsing, not developing properly and causing breathing issues.

Mouth breathing is the direct cause of tooth decay and gum disease as well as crooked teeth. If the tongue is not in the right place during childhood, the face collapses and like dominoes, everything downstream collapses. ADHD may actually be sleep apnea – all the symptoms are the same. And it all comes back to oxygen.

Close her mouth

Airway focused dentists are the medical provider that will help you breathe better and may well change the course of your health. In addition to airway dentists, we work with other providers such as naturopaths, chiropractors, allergists, ENTs, biological dentists, and body workers to help you wind all the problems irregular breathing creates.

Mouth Tape

And, I saved the best for last! Mouth taping with paper tape. (Betcha never even heard about it until today unless you have done your homework and read some breathing books. My fav is the book Breath by James Nestor) Paper taping gently holds the lips together to ensure that you use your nose for breathing..

The first time I heard about using paper tape I dismissed it, saying “I slept just fine – thank you very much”. I thought they were crazy. Yet, that night, I tried it and slept eight solid hours and never even woke to use the bathroom. I was so refreshed and actually almost jumped out of bed. WOW – that was quite a revelation.

I really thought I slept fine until I realized I actually did not. What I did not realize was that I actually was tired. I would notice it on my drive home from work. Deep in the center of my brian I could feel that tiredness creep in, a nagging feeling that was always just there. I did not know what I did not know. Luckily, my husband nagged me to address my snoring. That was the beginning of my journey learning about and having better, healthy, quieter and deeper sleep.

Paper tape- first- not just any tape- no masking tape, NO duct tape, and never tape a child under age five, (and I have better tape suggestions for children anyway) and no taping if you have been drinking, pregnant or have nasal congestion or cannot use your nose.

The nose is for breathing and the mouth is for eating. Unfortunately, we, as a society, have forgotten this very important and crucial fact. Instead, according to my observations at the grocery store and on cruise ships, I calculate that over 50% of the population is walking around with their mouth open. Open mouth means mouth breathing. The nose is the only tool we should be using to breathe. The mouth is ONLY the emergency hatch in case the nose gets smashed. The nose filters the air, purifies the air, warms it, moisturizes it and regulates it. It even kills viruses, and yes, that virus.

He needs some paper tape.

And for my dental peeps – EVERY case of perio, bleeding gums and caries (tooth decay) has a mouth breathing component. Unless you correct this, those problems will persist. Mouth breathing dries out the mouth, changies the pH and the microbiome, and makes the mouth and plaque acidic so tooth decay takes over. It is the acidic plaque next to the tooth, especially along the gumline that creates the decay issues.

The more we mouth breathe, the more clogged the sinuses get, the more we mouth breathe. Nasal hygiene is a real thing and a myofunctional therapist or a Butyeko breathing specialist can teach you how to do that to unclog the sinuses. Meanwhile, I like XLEAR nasal spray and recommend you to squirt this in your nose twice daily. Spray to the side of the nostril so it does not head straight down the throat. Two squirts each nostril and dab your nose with a tissue, but don’t blow it right out. If that does not work, please see an ear, nose and throat specialist. The nose needs to be clear so you can use it every single day.

Back to mouth taping at night. The very first time I put the tape on, I noticed I got a little claustrophobic and panicky. Then I calmed myself down, and saw that yes, I could indeed use my nose. Some of the dedicated commercial mouth tapes do have a hole in the center as a “just in case” breathing hole.

Try using the tape while watching TV or at the computer. See if you can use your nose. If not, you’ll know quickly if your nose is not working properly. Remove the tape and find an airway DDS or a myo therapist to help you further. Please don’t settle for being a mouth breather. This is really life and breath!

Tape For Better Nasal Breathing

I have a variety of mouth tapes I like:

Children:

I like Myo tape for children It goes around the mouth. NEVER tape off children’s lips. They need to be able to talk, drink water and throw up. Some children do have a reaction to the adhesive so be aware and if they react then discontinue the tape. Find a myo therapist to help you further. There are many therapists that work on-line now so finding one should not be difficult. If you need help finding one, please contact me.

For adults: so many options. My current favorites are:

3 M Nexcare Sensitive skin gentle paper tape– in the first aid section of the grocery/drug store . Be sure to fold over the ends so you always have a tabs to grab in case you need to take it off. You don’t want to be fumbling around at night trying to scrape it off.

LipQplus lip glue– for those with facial hair, this lip glue is a great option. Lick your lips and apply a thin ribbon of glue from one end of the lower lip to the other. Then gently press the lips together and allow it to dry. To open the mouth just slide the tongue between the lips to break the seal. You might be able to get a second round of glue by wetting the lips.

Myo tape for adults – It gently holds your lips together and allows you to talk and drink water at night, just like the kiddos. They even sell a Myo tape to use when doing sports. If you use your nose while exercsing, you will be a better athlete and will recover faster. The old saying “in throught the nose and out through the mouth” is so out of date! You’ll be so much healthier if you only use your nose for breathing.

OI tape– this is my newest favorite- developed by entreprenurial ladies who saw a need and created this great tape. This tape is snug. It feels like a nice hug for my lips. It stays put all night, and peels off better than any of the others. (I don’t like tape that exfoliates my skin or leaves sticky residue behind.) I am actually able to peel it off and then reuse it another night or so. It is hypoallergenic medical grade paper and very gentle. They have an automatic shipment system so you never run out. Here’s my discount code: SLEEPBETTER10

Try one, try a bunch. There are others out there on-line and all have their pluses and minues. Find one you like and see if you don’t sleep better. I do use both paper tape and my cpap- and love the combo- I sleep so deeply.

Sleep Revelations for a Sleep Revolution

You cannot heal if you don’t sleep well. Hope these suggetions help you on your sleep wellness journey. Let’s aim for seven to eight hours of deep restful, quiet, dreamy sleep. Healing starts there.

Sweet Dreams!

Barbara Tritz

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist and Paper Tape Queen

Queenofdentalhygiene.net

Hello, I'm Barbara Tritz

Unveiling the Stories Behind Dental Hygiene

Loving science, especially biology, from an early age, Barbara is a registered dental hygienist, certified biological hygienist, and orofacial myofunctional therapist. In 2019, she received the Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician Award from the American Dental Hygienist Association.

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7 Comments

  1. Dr. Anuradha Narang

    Great post! As a dental professional, I appreciate the thorough information and helpful tips provided. I will definitely share this with my patients and colleagues. Keep up the excellent work!

    Reply
    • Barbara Tritz

      Thank you Dr Narang!
      Sincerely,
      Barbara

      Reply
  2. Pat

    Thanks for the tape info.

    Reply
  3. Janice

    As always Barb, you are so informative! Thankk you! Not through your blog (not sure where I read about this), but I tried the regular paper tape about a year ago. I too was amazed at how well I slept and woke up more refreshed than I can ever remember in a LONG time. I have had to wear a chin strap, along with my Cpap for many years. I wear both faithfully. I only wore the tape for one night, as someone mentioned “What would you do if you aspirated? Is this really safe under those conditions? With this question raised, I haven’t used it again. My thought…..wouldn’t one wake up if they were to aspirate? I am aware that pneumonia could result in doing so and that would then become another issue. I am MORE THAN WILLING to use the tape, rather than the bothersome chin strap. What are your thoughts on the rare aspiration possibility? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Barbara Tritz

      Hi Janice,
      I always fold over the tapeon both ends so I have a handle to grab. That way I can always get it off quickly if I have to sneeze or cough. I would never suggest someone paper tape if there was a danger of aspirating or vomiting. Those that are drinking alcohol should not tape. That’s why I like the Myotape- it encourages the lips to stay together but doesn’t tape the lips. That’s safer for children.
      Hugs to you,
      ~Barbara

      Reply
  4. Janice

    What is the purpose of the hole in the Ol tape please? For the claustrophobic?

    Reply
    • Barbara Tritz

      Yes! The hole is an emergency hatch in case you need a little help or get claustrophobic.
      ~B

      Reply

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