Everyone in bro podcast land is clamoring about nose breathing, of all things. And believe it or not, experts say there’s a reason why this of all things is filtering through the zeitgeist: the schnoz is resoundingly the best way to breathe. Study after study suggests that it better oxygenates our systems, that it humidifies and purifies the air that enters our systems, that it reshape our jaw by adjusting how our tongue sits in the mouth, and that when used during high-intensity exercise, could prevent anxiety and hyperventilation.
“Despite the fact that we breathe from the time we are born, the breath is a tool that, for many athletes, has untapped potential,” says Matthew Mikesell, PhD, CMPC, a Licensed Psychologist at Premier Sports Psychology. “Physiologically, research indicates that nasal breathing provides twice the airflow resistance than that of mouth breathing, which trains the diaphragm to become stronger. Just as we use resistance training for our body, we can use resistance training for our breath.”
For what it’s worth, many in-the-know wellness devotees have long been nose-breathing supporters. Ujjayi breath, a centuries-old yogic breath technique, directs air in and out of the nose, mimicking the sound of ocean waves. The Buteyko Method, developed to improve oxygenation to the body and decrease symptoms of asthma, was introduced in the Soviet Union around the 1950s.
The question becomes: Is mouth taping going to be a durable wellness practice like yogic breathing, or more of a passing fad? It’s probably too soon to tell, but as it stands now, the hashtag “mouthtaping” has 143.2 million views on TikTok, and Amazon sells thousands of units of specialized mouth tape monthly.
While many people were first exposed to the idea by James Nestor’s 2020 book Breath, the trend took off on TikTok in earnest around 2022. Skinny Confidential podcast host Laryn Bosstick, professed the benefits of mouth-taping on her TikTok after hearing Stanford Neurobiologist Andrew Huberman talk about it on his podcast, Huberman Lab. “What I notice is that I wake up with so much more energy. Other benefits are less cavities, reduced snoring, better breath,” she says, “but honestly, I’ve noticed that I just have a deeper sleep.” That video has 35.2K likes.
Huberman pushed the practice a step further in a LinkedIn post, writing: “Some people opt to tape their mouth shut before sleep, but another solution that is additionally beneficial is to restrict yourself to nasal breathing during low to moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise (which we should all be doing at least 180 to 200 minutes per week for health).” And then, as if whispering it into existence, the athletes, one by one, put up and taped up.
Ultramarathoner and breathwork coach Rory Warnock posted on Instagram about taping his mouth for the Sydney Half Marathon. “I wanted to demonstrate that we can still perform to a high ability, only nasal breathing,” he wrote. “We’re designed to adapt. Give the body the correct environment and stimulus and it will do exactly that.” Swiatek, similarly said in a press conference that: “It’s harder to breathe when you’re only breathing with your nose, and it’s easier for my heart rate to go up,” she told reporters. “It’s a way to work on my endurance by not having me run so fast and do extreme things.”
Look, we can get back to the how—the crux of how mouth breathing impacts CO2 tolerance; restructuring your diaphragm; changing your jaw shape—but maybe what’s more important is taking a look at why people are doing this.