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Problems When You Breathe by Mouth While Asleep

author image Zoe Glass
Zoe Glass has been writing journalism, essays and fiction since 2001. Her articles have been featured in publications including literary journals "Beatdom" and "Denali," the music magazine "Mixmag" and the London newspaper "Snipe." Glass holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Pennsylvania and is studying for a Master of Letters in writing at the University of Glasgow.
Problems When You Breathe by Mouth While Asleep
Sleeping with your mouth closed may be better. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Getting a good night's sleep is essential for your physical and mental well-being. However, if you breathe with your mouth open when asleep you may be sabotaging your sleep and be at risk for developing a number of disorders. If you suffer from any of the following disorders or think you may breathe by mouth when asleep, consult with your physician.

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Snoring is a common, irritating phenomenon, and it is almost always due to breathing by mouth when asleep. If you fall asleep sitting up, or in an uncomfortable position, your mouth is likely to drop open and the muscles of your palate relax. When you inhale your palate and uvula vibrate, causing the sound of snoring. Snoring can be treated in a number of ways, including changing your sleep position, doing breathing exercises or using nasal strips.

Sleep Apnea

Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, a far more serious condition, in which you intermittently struggle for breath, or stop breathing entirely, while sleeping. When you breathe by mouth when asleep, the resulting irritation to your respiratory system can cause apnea, which interrupts sleep and can lead to tiredness and disorientation during waking hours, and has been linked to conditions including heart attack.


Mouth breathing when asleep can trigger asthma, according to“The Handbook of Sleep Medicine.” This is because when you breathe by mouth the air goes directly into your lungs without being warmed and filtered by your nasal passages. This raises the risk of inhaling allergens such as dust, pollen or pet hair that can cause an asthma attack.


Bad breath, or halitosis, is caused by the growth of bacteria in your mouth. Breathing by mouth while asleep dries out your mouth, which means there is less saliva to rinse away bacteria. As a result, you can wake up with strong halitosis. When you breathe through your mouth, it also allows you to inhale bacteria or allergens in the air that may exacerbate your bad breath.

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