Snoring might be a minor annoyance or a major problem: Just ask those people who are stuck sleeping next to a snorer. While snoring may not seem like a big deal, it can affect your quality of sleep, breathing and — of course — relationships. If you head to the drugstore, you'll likely find an entire section dedicated to snoring aids that promise less noise and a better night's sleep. Do they actually work? By knowing which aids to use and which to avoid, you might be able to stop snoring once and for all.
One of the most common snoring aids are nasal strips, which are designed to gently pull the sides of your nose apart to create wider nasal passages. Michael Breus, Ph.D., a sleep expert in Scottsdale, tells Real Simple magazine that strips are helpful in controlling snoring that originates in the nose, perhaps because of a deviated septum, or is caused by nasal congestion. If your snoring originates in the throat, however, strips may be less effective
Lubricating throat sprays are usually advertised as a way to moisturize the throat to minimize snoring. However, dry throats aren't really the cause of snoring; relaxed and blocked airways are. While a lubricating spray isn't likely to reduce snoring by moisturizing the throat, the minty flavor may actually help to clear up congestion, which can minimize snoring volume.
While sprays and nasal strips may have limited effectiveness, one type of product usually does work well: Positioning pillows. By making you feel more comfortable on your side, these pillows help you avoid sleeping on your back, which is the sleep position most commonly blamed for the slack airways that trigger snoring. Of course, any sleep aid which helps you sleep on your side will reduce snoring, so you don't need to purchase one that is targeted specifically to snorers.
If your snoring is the result of obstructive sleep apnea — a condition in which you actually stop breathing as you snore — an oral appliance can help, according the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Like a retainer or mouth guard, the appliance is inserted into the mouth at bedtime. It helps prevent the collapse of the airways responsible for breathing at night. Your dentist may recommend one to you and take impressions to develop the appliance to fit comfortably in your mouth if you mention your snoring to him at your next appointment.
While there are hundreds of options for snoring aids available on the market today, your particular type of snoring and genetics will dictate whether they work for you. There may be some trial and error involved before you can declare yourself snore-free and reclaim your sleep.