Mouth Breathing and Sleep Apnea
Some people naturally breathe through their mouth rather than their nose. Reasons for mouth breathing vary, with causes including but not limited to nasal congestion, allergies, and/or a deviated septum. However, a significant number of individuals who breathe through their mouths actually suffer from untreated sleep apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition that causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep, and therefore repeatedly deprives your body of oxygen. When your oxygen level dips, your body may signal you to start suddenly gasping or gulping in air quickly. Experiencing this phenomenon often, you can develop a habit of breathing with your mouth open to accommodate your body’s need for more oxygen.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that breathing through your mouth can exacerbate Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), as it can increase airway collapse and nasal resistance.
Correcting Mouth Breathing
If you’re a mouth breather, there are several things you can do to make a difference and help correct oral breathing.
First, it’s important to investigate the potential reasons behind your body’s tendency to breathe orally. Allergens, such as dust, certain foods, and dander, can induce nasal congestion. You can help reduce the presence of these irritants while you sleep by making sure your bedding is clean, changing your sheets and pillowcases often.
Changing up your sleeping positions can also aid in correcting breathing through your mouth. As mouth breathing typically occurs when you sleep on your back, try sleeping on your side to help minimize the occurrence. If you like sleeping on your back or stomach and find it difficult to correct during sleep, you can also try utilizing a pillow to elevate your head on a thirty to sixty degree angle, helping you keep your mouth closed while you sleep and promoting breathing through your nose.
SomnoMed’s oral devices can also assist with helping you to stop mouth breathing. Our oral appliances, like our SomnoDent® Avant™, move your jaw and tongue forward while you sleep to open up your airway and treat your sleep apnea. This helps to improve airflow and thereby reduces your body’s need to suck in large quantities of air, promoting nasal breathing.
If you or a loved one are a mouth breather and suspect undiagnosed and untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), ask your sleep physician about SomnoMed oral appliances. Your journey to a better (and quieter!) night’s rest starts here: https://somnomed.co/en/find-a-clinic/
How Does Open Mouth Breathing Influence Upper Airway Anatomy. Seung Hoon Lee, MD; Ji Ho Choi, MD; Heung Man Lee, MD; Soon Young Kwon, MD; Sang Hag Lee, MD. The Laryngoscope, 2007 Vol. 117. Issue 6.