Do you snore? If so, you’re not alone. An estimated 45% of Americans snore at least occasionally, while 25% are habitual snorers.
Hands up if you’ve woken up to a frustrated spouse who tossed and turned because of your snoring. Or maybe you’ve snapped awake after you’ve caught yourself snorting in your sleep. It’s no wonder that those with snoring issues (which can mask sleep disorders) are desperate to stop.
Many companies (and questionable medical professionals) have concocted some very strange ways to help snorers, from tongue suction cups to electronic shock. In fact, there are more than 300 anti-snoring devices registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Unfortunately, only a very small fraction anti-snoring methods have even the slightest benefit.
Here’s a look at some of the losers.
Electric shock bracelets – These wristwatch-like bands are designed to deliver a weak electric shock when snoring is detected. But not so shocking… They don’t work. Those who have tried them got zapped any time they farted or sneezed. Wearers also reported that the constant shocks made them irritable and uncomfortable. No kidding.
Acupressure rings – The ring goes on the left hand onto the pinky, which, at least in new age thinking, will stimulate your heart meridian. It’s sterling silver with two acupressure balls on its underside. Some testers thought it reduced the volume of their snoring – though not much else. Let’s just say that this one does not have a ring of truth to it….
Sticky face or nasal strips – The idea is that these strips will hold your mouth closed, prompting you to breathe through your nose instead. But testers reported no luck with them. They adhere to the skin like duct tape, but are so uncomfortable to wear that snorers soon rip them off. This sounds like a sticky situation that’s best avoided.
Throat sprays – It may be a “mist-take” to buy one of these minty sprays. While they leave your breath smelling fresh, they don’t do much to stop the biological mechanics responsible for snoring.
Tongue suction cup – It was created thinking that it could keep help pull your tongue forward and the surrounding muscles to stop obstruction of your airway. The theory is there, but not the science. It’s uncomfortable to use and it feels like you’re going to swallow it by accident. Because it couldn’t tame the tongue, it didn’t make a lick of difference to snorers.
The tennis ball trick –Those who sleep on their backs are more prone to snoring than side sleepers. How do you prevent going back to the snore-inducing sleep position? Some say that sewing or taping a tennis ball to the back of your pajama top works. The thinking is you’ll feel discomfort and roll to your side. But even side sleepers can snore, so the benefits are limited.
Learning to play the didgeridoo – One small study required its participants with sleep apnea take up the didgeridoo, an instrument made popular by Australia’s indigenous people. The research group practiced for an average of 6 days over a 4-month period. The hope was that it would help strengthen throat muscles and stop them from relaxing too much at night, which contributes to snoring. Researchers found that it had some positive effects, but only if have 4 months to spare and room to stash a didgeridoo in your closet. This tactic hits a sour note when it comes to effectiveness.
Use a humidifier – This can help, IF you’re snoring is related to allergies and congestions. It’s not a cure by any stretch, but you may breathe easier and snore less.
Skip the booze – Sure, a nightcap sounds like a nice idea, but drinking alcohol before bed is like pouring gas on the fire for snorers. Alcohol relaxes the muscles around your airways, creating a perfect storm for a raucous, restless night.
Lose weight – Snoring and sleep apnea are linked to obesity, due to fat deposits in the soft tissue of the mouth and throat. If you’re overweight, break the weight gain-sleep-deprivation-weight-gain-cycle that has been well documented by research. Along with boosting sleep quality, there are many benefits to maintaining a healthy weight.
Custom mouth guards –CPAP machines are still the gold standard, but they don’t work for everyone, so these fitted mouth guards can be helpful. They help position the jaw in a way that reduces snoring. The caveat is that good quality options are expensive and you’ll need a healthcare insurance policy to cover the cost, dependent on a diagnosis of sleep apnea.
Surgery – It’s a serious step that isn’t applicable for mild or medium cases of snoring. Undergoing a surgical procedure is usually reserved for the most persistent and severe cases that don’t respond to treatments like CPAP where airways are kept open with a steady flow of air delivered with a nasal mask worn during sleep. Surgeons can take a number of different routes. Excess palate tissue can be removed surgically or with thermal ablation (using radio frequency or laser).
Consult a sleep doctor – Snoring is not normal and it shouldn’t be dismissed as harmless. Aside from being uncomfortable and causing friction with your bedmate, it can be a sign of sleep apnea, which has serious, long-term health risks. Children who snore should be seen by a physician or sleep doctor to rule out any problems with tonsils or adenoids. Surgeons can also increase the stiffness of soft palate tissue with injections or inserting stiffening rods (also called pillar implants).
Have you found a solution to your snoring that really works? We’d love to hear about it!
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