Can’t Sleep at Night? Mouth Breathing Could be the Surprising Reason Why

🔑 Key Findings:

  • Twice as many people who breathe through their mouth have nasal congestion
  • Only 56% of mouth breathers say they get good sleep
  • Dr. Roger Henderson says mouth breathing can lead to serious health problems

LONDON — Breathing through your mouth could mean you’re twice as likely to experience regular nasal congestion, according to a new survey. The study of 2,000 adults in the United Kingdom found 13 percent typically breathe through their mouths, and this increases to 18 percent when they’re asleep.

Out of these respondents, however, nearly one in three (31%) admitted they experience nasal congestion often. In comparison, just 15 percent of those who breathe through their noses feel stuffed up regularly. It also emerged that as a result of these regular stuffy noses, 38 percent have trouble getting to sleep at night.

The research was commissioned by Olbas, which teamed up with Dr. Roger Henderson, a general practitioner of over 30 years.

“Breathing through your mouth can cause several health issues compared to when you breathe more healthily through your nose,” Dr. Henderson says in a statement.

“Mouth breathing can cause less oxygen to be delivered to the body and one of the problems this can cause is disturbed sleep and increased daytime fatigue and tiredness. It also causes the mouth to dry out, which in turn increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.”

“There may also be an increased risk of upper airway infections as well as inflammation of the tonsils and adenoids. Nasal obstruction is a common reason for mouth breathing, often caused by nasal allergies or enlarged adenoids,” Dr. Henderson continues.

Man blowing his nose, sneezing outside from seasonal allergies
(© Dragana Gordic –

The research also found, of those who experience regular nasal congestion, 64 percent are getting blocked noses. While one in three are getting runny noses, and 31 percent are even having sinus pressure and pain. Another 31 percent have found breathing difficult as a result.

Nasal sprays, steam inhalation, and decongestants are the most popular remedies people are turning to as they attempt to relieve their congestion. However, as a result of being regularly stuffed up, 37 percent have been kept awake at night and 30 percent have found it difficult to nod off. In addition, this has resulted in tiredness throughout the day for 28 percent of respondents.

The research, conducted by OnePoll, also found those who are breathing through their mouths are having worse sleep compared to those who do not. In fact, just 56 percent of mouth breathers claim their quality of sleep was good, compared to 68 percent of those who predominantly breathe through their nose.

“To help reduce mouth breathing and nasal congestion, use a saline spray or nasal decongestant, sleep on your back with an extra pillow to prop up your head and help promote nasal breathing,” Dr. Henderson adds.

“Try to keep your house as free of allergens as possible and consciously practice breathing through your nose during the day to help train yourself into a habit of nasal breathing.”

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72Point writer Oliver Lewis contributed to this report.

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StudyFinds Staff

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  1. Interesting article. I would have liked to hear the doctor speak about devices like nasal cones, nasal strips, and mouth tape as nasal breathing aids. Also, when you mentioned the OnePoll research, it would be better if the link pointed to the poll or data rather than the home page of the OnePoll website. The same goes for the earlier-mentioned research, if not the same. This way, you’re documenting your references instead of just steering business to OnePoll. If I missed the reference somewhere on this page, my apologies. Please point me to it.

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