Have you ever gone shopping and came across something you didn’t know existed? How about something you want to try but had forgotten about until you saw it in a local drug store display? Many of us have done that. It’s called an “impulse buy” because it’s purchased on impulse.
It’s not uncommon for large supply chain stores like Walgreens, CVS, or Walmart to offer “as seen on TV” products, including anti-snoring devices/solutions. It is a marketing scheme common among America’s largest retailers that rakes in millions of dollars a year for these companies.
When you or your sleep partner snore, it can become frustrating. Not only is it irritating to be awakened by snorers, but the resulting loss of sleep makes us even more irritable and exhausted.
When that happens, we risk trying just about anything to prevent the deterioration of our relationships - including these retail impulse buys - even when we are not sure about what options are available.
There has been a huge rush of anti-snoring devices and products created on the market and many are available over the counter (OTC). While there are also solutions that require a prescription or even surgery, many consumers will try these OTC solutions and exhaust their options before opting for more extreme alternatives.
Here is a list of some of the most common anti-snoring devices and how (and if) they are effective.
Understand Snoring Causes
Before we delve into these anti-snoring solutions, it’s important to understand that not all snoring is the result of the same thing. The most common type of chronic snoring is sleep apnea which, according to experts, affects an estimated 22 million individuals in America alone, with 80 percent of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea going undiagnosed.
Others may snore due to nasal irregularities such as a deviated septum.
However, some snoring can be temporary such as with congestion, inflammation, allergies, or alcohol consumption, in which case time and patience with the proper treatment for the offending condition will likely solve the issue.
This means you need to know the reason behind the snoring before you start scouting for a solution that meets your needs.
Best Anti-Snoring Devices
For the majority of these anti-snoring devices, the cause of chronic, long-term snoring would be sleep apnea but there are also solutions for snoring caused by other factors. Take time to review the pros and cons of each of these devices before you spend your hard-earned cash on something that may not work at all.
Positional Obstructive Sleep Apnea (POSA) (a type of sleep apnea that is more pronounced when the snorer sleeps on their back [supine]). Research found that more than half of snorers with mild to moderate OSA studied, suffered with POSA.
To treat it, experts developed positional therapy which is how anti-snoring pillows aim to remedy snoring.
Anti-snoring pillows can be an effective treatment to stop occasional POSA but experts report that it is most effective with individuals who “tend to have less [OSA] severity, lower BMI, younger age, and better outcomes after palatal surgery.”
Most individuals who snore, do so because their mouths are open so developers came up with the idea of a chin strap that holds the mouth closed and, in theory, prevents open-mouthed snoring.
However, research has shown that chin or jaw straps, alone, are not effective in treating the symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing. Some, however, found a bit of relief when using the chin strap in conjunction with other anti-snoring devices.
There are a number of different types of mouthpieces that proclaim to help reduce or eliminate snoring. These were developed as a non-invasive, OTC alternative to the commonly used Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) solutions, which require a sleep study and prescription. The two most common types of mouthpieces are:
- Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)
- Tongue Retention Devices (TRDs)
Mandibular Advancement Devices
These devices are designed to adjust the lower jaw slightly forward and, thus, prevent the throat muscles from collapsing while you sleep.
There are many different designs and features of today’s MADs available in the market and experts report this makes determining their efficacy, somewhat difficult. However, research has shown that MADs are effective in treating both mild to moderate sleep apnea as well as severe cases for those who cannot tolerate the CPAP treatment.
When shopping for the right MAD, be sure to check for things such as:
- FDA approval
- Incremental adjustments (some of these mouthpieces abruptly protrude the lower jaw resulting in unnecessary soreness which incremental adjusting mitigates).
- Size options (some oral devices come as a one-size-fits-all product which is not ideal for everyone)
- Return/Refund/Exchange Policies
- Customer reviews
- BBB ratings
- Shipping times/methods
Tongue Retention Devices
Some anti-snoring oral appliances are created to keep the tongue in place, so it does not fall back into the soft tissue and cause throat snoring.
Some MADs may come with a TRD strip across the device and while some can tolerate the strip, others might report gagging or discomfort with this solution. Other devices are designed to pull the tongue through the teeth via suction. These, too, can result in tongue pain and discomfort as well as excessive drooling.
Experts report the TRD is not effective for individuals who have nasal-related snoring problems because, often, they require the mouth to be closed while sleeping.
One common reason why people stop using their CPAP machines is because they are large, cumbersome, and make it difficult to sleep comfortably while wearing. These masks generally cover most of the sleeper’s face and provide constant positive airway pressure.
Since these large, bulky CPAP devices were causing snorers to stop using them, developers and inventors sought a way to create the same solution without all the complicated contraptions and, eventually micro CPAP technology was introduced to the market.
Simply put, the micro CPAP is a cordless device that fits into the nostrils and, thus, removes the need for tubes, cords, and masks. This serves two purposes: opening (dilating) the nasal passages and providing constant respiratory pressure.
This is a relatively new technology and there are mixed reviews about its effectiveness. Those who could not tolerate the way the CPAP fit into their nostrils found it uncomfortable and stopped using it. For others, however, the device appears to not only be unable to deliver the necessary air pressure, but even appears to be a scam.
Before investing in Micro CPAP technology, be sure you research the product and company thoroughly.
Anti-snoring devices like nose clips and rings are designed to increase the airflow through the nostrils. Nose clips like Clipple and Acusnore are designed with magnetic balls inside to mimic Ancient Chinese Medicine technique of magnetic therapy.
Unbiased examination and experimentation of these nose clips by the British Snoring & Sleep Apnea Association found these devices to be uncomfortable and, unfortunately, ineffective for the treatment of snoring.
Nasal strips are an anti-snoring solution that essentially works by placing the strips across the bridge of the nose and dilating the nostrils. They are supposed to increase airflow and reduce snoring. Perhaps the most popular of these is Breathe Right® nasal strips. These bands are like small, springy bandages that help pull your nostrils open.
Do they work? According to experts from Berkeley University, nasal strips are great for helping individuals who snore due to nasal blockages or congestion. However, they are not an effective alternative for those with sleep apnea.
A different type of anti-snoring solution is the use of mouth strips or tape. These remedies basically work by taping the mouth closed while you sleep and, thus, preventing mouth breathing (which is often a cause of snoring).
They are touted as being effective for those who sleep with their mouths open as well as to help augment the use of a CPAP machine.
While this has been found to be an effective way to stop mouth-breathing snoring, as well as reduce the discomfort that comes from mouth breathing while asleep, like dry mouth. However, these strips don’t come without risks.
For many, the adhesive was not strong enough to stay in place through the night and it was impossible to use for anyone with facial hair. Others complained the strips were not large enough for their mouths.
Most importantly, though, there are medical risks when using mouth strips. According to sleep apnea surgery expert Dr. Karen Li, MD, DMD, strips can be dangerous, particularly for those with sleep apnea. She is quoted:
“People compensate for nasal breathing with mouth breathing. During sleep, especially during deep sleep with greater muscle relaxation, our jaws fall back and contribute to obstruction and apneic events. Arousals increase muscle tone and subsequently breathing occurs, usually through the mouth.”
Further, for those who snore due to nasal congestion, a deviated septum, or allergies, taping the mouth closed is simply impossible.
There are over a dozen brands of anti-snoring spray that claim to ease snoring by lubricating the throat before bedtime. Usually these sprays include a type of minty oil such as peppermint or menthol.
Naturally, any kind of mint (such as that found in Vicks Vaporub) will open passageways and allow for easier breathing, particularly for individuals who have nasal or chest congestion.
However, experts reveal that “Throat sprays are almost completely useless against snoring” and that there is “no reason to think that lubricating the throat would have any effect on snoring.”
Still, it is not uncommon to see these types of sprays displayed in pharmacies like Walgreens or retail stores like Walmart.
Simply put, nose vents are anti-snoring devices that are inserted into the nostrils to hold them open while you sleep. A study performed with 11 patients found that dilating the nostrils did, in fact, help with their snoring problems.
However, despite this, only four of the 11 participants continued with the nose vents. This could be due to the vents being the wrong size and, thus, uncomfortable. They can also fall out easily and, because of their small size, be difficult to find once they do, according to a number of reviewers.
Wedge pillows are designed to elevate the head and shoulders of snorers and, in doing so, reduce the relaxation of throat muscles which causes snoring. They are a simple way to incorporate what is known as head of bed elevation (HOBE), a type of anti-snoring solution.
However, experts warn that while the wedge pillow may help when sleeping supine (on your back), they can become uncomfortable when sleeping in any other position. They advise you check the return policy when ordering a wedge pillow for snoring.
As a side note: these pillows were actually designed for treating acid reflux.
Anti-Snoring Eye Masks
These innovating anti-snoring solutions use BlueTooth smart technology and a sleep mask to help snorers sleep.
It is worn as a traditional sleep mask but includes smart technology that synchronizes with your smartphone. The technology is reported to activate when snoring is detected from the relaxation of the throat muscles. Once activated, a vibration signals the snorer without awakening them and they resume normal breathing.
It has been found to be effective to help with snoring, however some users report problems with keeping the mask on through the night and complications with the technology (users must download an app provided with the product). Some users also complained of irritation from the straps.
Surgical solutions for sleep apnea have been around for a long time but recently, doctors have begun using implants like Inspire - a device intended to perform hypoglossal nerve stimulation - which was approved by the FDA in 2014, to treat obstructive sleep apnea.
The treatment involves, first, an in-depth sleep study (DISE) to help doctors better understand the nature of the snoring. After approval by insurance, the treatment involves an outpatient surgery where an impulse generator implanted under the collarbone and a “ tunneled breathing sensing lead” attaches to the hypoglossal nerve that makes the tongue protrude to reduce or eliminate snoring.
Experts have found hypoglossal nerve stimulation to be an effective alternative for those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea and for whom CPAP treatments have been ineffective.
However, determining factors of those best suited for it include:
- Body mass index
- Overall health
- Severity of OSA
The therapy, according to experts, is not recommended for patients with mild OSA, children, individuals with a BMI of 33 kg or more, or patients who are successfully using CPAP therapy.
Adverse events reported include:
- Tongue abrasion
- Internal and/or external device malfunctions
As with any medical condition, surgery is usually considered a last resort after all other options have been exhausted.
Side Sleeper/Specialty Mattresses
Some experts report snoring can be triggered by sleeping on your back. To combat this, specialty mattresses have evolved to encourage sleepers to lay on their sides.
Research has shown that just over half - 54 percent - of snorers, snored only when sleeping on their backs. This shows that a mattress that encourages side sleeping can indeed be effective. However, they warn that weight can be a factor when deciding on the best option for you.
Another factor to consider is cost. Specialty sleep mattresses can be expensive so be sure to check reviews, quality, guarantees, company reputation, and return policies before deciding on a specialty sleep mattress.
Created to provide positional therapy, these non-invasive sleep aids are intended to prevent back-sleepers from rolling onto their backs without waking them. There are a number of benefits to these devices.
- Low cost
- Won’t awaken your partner
- They’re not complicated to use.
- No prescription necessary
- Easy to take with you when traveling
- Fits almost anyone
Like belts, anti-snoring vests are worn and have an attached block that prevents you from rolling over onto your back during the night. However, these vests may not fit everyone.
When you are trying to eliminate snoring from your bedroom, finding the right solution is key. Sometimes, snorers (and their partners) can benefit from combining one or two solutions or alternating solutions that work for them.
Whatever you choose, sleep apnea and snoring can have long-term negative health effects and cause great strain on your quality of life and relationships. Be sure you research each solution thoroughly so you can begin to get your full, restorative night’s sleep back.