Home Personal Psychology Sleeping/Dreaming Dorveille and Breath: Two Sleep-Enhancing Strategies

Dorveille and Breath: Two Sleep-Enhancing Strategies

62 min read

Covering the Mouth

We are left with the challenge of nose breathing still not addressed in a satisfactory manner. How do we ensure that our breath is coming in through our nose rather than our mouth? This is hard enough to achieve during the daytime—when we would have to attend virtually all the time to our breathing. It is even more difficult during the nighttime when we are asleep. Can we really become nose breathers after a lifetime of breathing at least sometime through our mouth? Are we homo sapiens doomed to a life of being stupid breathers on behalf of our capacity to be articulate speakers?

James Nestor offers a rather “drastic” solution for the nighttime and tried this solution out himself. He decided to place tape over his mouth. He first tried the rather dramatic step of placing of a large swath of tape over his entire lower face; however, he soon found that it only took a small piece of tape placed over the mouth to do the track. Nestor tries the tape solution out himself and reports quite positive results (Nestor, 2020, p. 52):

In the three nights since I started using this tape, I went from snoring four hours to only ten minutes. I’d been warned . . . that sleep tape won’t do anything to help treat sleep apnea. My experience suggested otherwise. As my snoring disappeared, so did apnea.
I’d suffered up to two dozen apnea events in the mouth breathing phase [when I was breathing just through my mouth], but last night had zero. I suffered no creepy insomniac hallucinations, no late-night ruminations . . . I never woke up needing to pee. I didn’t have to, because my pituitary gland was likely releasing vasopressin. I was finally sleeping soundly.

We are appreciative of Nestor’s self-experimentation and his advocacy of mouth-taping. It is probably a wonderful, low-cost solution for many of us mouth-breathers. However, his recommendation and demonstration has caused a bit of controversy. Segments of recent news programs have been devoted to the identification of hazards associated with Nestor’s mouth taping. The most obvious hazard concerns the elimination of mouth breathing when one can’t easily breath through their nose. Not only is this likely to increase sleep disruption during the night (“I can’t breathe!”), it can lead to brain damage (lack of sufficient oxygen) and even death. Are these potential hazards overblown? Perhaps they are. Certainly, most of us would wake up and tear off the tape if we were struggling to receive enough oxygen. However, the warning is worth keeping in mind. Other methods that are more “natural” or at least less dramatic might be tried first. If nothing else, how about some fresh air before going to bed and a gentle blowing of the nose.


Here is the challenge. Can I keep my mouth shut for even a few moments each day? This might require that I listen more and talk less. Other people in my life might appreciate this change in my behavior—not because they want me to breathe from my nose, but because they want me to be more attentive to their own thoughts and feelings. Can I keep my mouth shut for a few minutes while falling asleep? Perhaps it will remain closed as I venture into my dreams? Maybe I can dream of being a beast of the forest who breathes like most other nonhuman beasts through their nose rather than their mouth.

Can I quit worrying about getting a full night of sleep—without interruption? I might not be wandering the streets of Harlem during the bridge between two sleep segments, but I might wander into the kitchen and munch on a favorite cookie made by my daughter or sip on some Egg Nog during the Winter Holiday. Dare I delight in this brief foray into my kitchen? Is it adventurous for me to journey into a different bedroom during my second segment of sleep? Do I take major risks in opening wide the window in my bedroom during the third segment? I say: why not live dangerously–fully engaging and enjoying Dorveille Sleep?

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