SAN ANTONIO — According to the Sleep Foundation, 57% of men do it and 40% of women do it, but no one wants to admit to it. We are talking about snoring, that thief that steals your sleep in the night.
In most cases snoring is harmless, although highly disruptive. But there is a cheap and easy way to lower the numbers.
Tommy Crout doesn't snore loudly, but it's enough to wake his wife up.
"I remember waking up a couple of mornings and you're out here." Crout says gesturing to the family room couch.
Megan Rodriguez-Crout needs her eight hours of uninterrupted sleep to compete as a Bikini Body Builder and for her job as a dental hygienist. Plus, she wants to spend every night next to her husband.
"I said I do not want to be that woman in the other bedroom," Rodriguez-Crout says.
She discovered a way to help her husband stop snoring from her dentist.
It didn't involve surgery or expensive equipment. She told him to tape his mouth shut.
"I was skeptical at first. I mean taping my mouth all of a sudden, which sounds crazy, but it definitely helped me," said Crout.
"If individuals are breathing through an open mouth during sleep, they're more prone to obstructive sleep apnea. They're more prone to insomnia and also to snoring and lighter sleep than they wake up feeling unrefreshed," said Patrick McKeown who has written several books on the benefits of breathing entirely through your nose.
"The nose produces a gas called nitric oxide which is antibacterial and antiviral. The nose filters dust and allergens and it humidifies the air. There are many, many valid reasons of why we should breathe through their nose and not for the mouth," says McKeown.
He says the nose is the first line of immune defense and he has long advocated for mouth-taping to stop snoring and sleep better.
"I started taping my mouth back in 1997 and I remember waking up after the second night of tape and I woke up in the morning and it was definitely the best night's sleep I had in about 15 years," said McKeown.
"Healthy people probably would have no danger with doing that and could conceivable feel better," said Dr. Fred Campbell, an internist with UT Health.
Campbell says the biggest concern over mouth taping is the lack of long term scientific studies. He also has a warning for people with acid reflux.
"I would be careful about the issue of vomiting or regurgitation in those people that are susceptible and above all, check with a health professional to make sure that this kind of maneuver is safe." cautions Campbell.
All that is needed for mouth taping is cloth tape that you can buy at the pharmacy. You can add nasal strips or nasal dilators like ones called Mute which keep your nostrils open. Splashing water on the tape in the morning makes it even easier to remove.
Megan Rodriguez-Crout tapes her mouth too, even though she doesn't snore.
"It's been the biggest game changer in my life," she said.
She's getting a much better night's sleep says her mood, attitude and everything is better - including her marriage.
"I don't want to wear earplugs so he just wears a piece of tape and we're great," said Rodriguez-Crout.