Of the hundreds of over-the-counter snoring remedies, only one gets approval from sleep doctors: Breathe Right Nasal Strips (Est. $5 for a box of 10) . Though there are other brands, reviews usually mention Breathe Right.
Breathe Right is an external nasal dilator. You stick it on your nose (it looks like a Band-Aid) and it holds your nostrils open, giving you a clearer airway.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine tells The New York Times strips can work -- but "only for people whose snoring starts in their noses," and that's only 15 to 20 percent of snorers, Which? magazine estimates. The British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association has a simple test for this: Look in a mirror, press one nostril closed, and try to breathe through the other one. If it collapses, prop it open with the clean end of a matchstick. If propping it helps you breathe easier, the association says Breathe Right strips may help your snoring.
Breathe Right strips also helped nasal snorers in a study reported by BBC News from Which? magazine, the U.K. version of ConsumerReports.org. Breathe Right is the top-rated snoring remedy at Amazon.com and Drugstore.com, too. One Amazon.com user says, "I have been using this product for years. I've had sinus issues all of my life & these allow me to significantly reduce the amount of decongestants I have to take to keep my nasal passages open at night."
Not only is this a favorite product for snorers, but spouses agree, too. "My husband has been using Breathe Right a long time. He sleeps better which allows me to sleep better," says one user.
Though there are many satisfied customers, there are also some complaints. Many users find the clear version is better at staying put, but the tan one actually works better. There are also a number of users who say Breathe Right Strips simply don't work. "I am in the guest room and my husband is in the master bedroom snoring his head off with one of these Breathe Right nasal strips on," says a Drugstore.com reviewer.
It's true, Breathe Right strips won't work for everyone, specifically for non-nasal snorers. If you snore for some other reason -- say, a floppy flap of skin situated at the back of your throat -- nasal strips won't help at all, experts caution. In fact, in a scientific study of three dozen chronic snorers, reported by CBS News, nasal strips didn't work, but neither did anything else.
They also didn't help two intrepid snoring journalists who tested fix after fix, either. Rory Clements at the Daily Mail (U.K.) likes the nasal strip -- it "feels really good -- and I look like footballer Robbie Fowler, too" -- but his wife reports that he snored through the night anyway, albeit more gently than usual. His snoring doesn't quit until he stops drinking before bedtime.
Slate.com's Chip Brantley tries Breathe Right for five nights and likes "that raw rush of cold, dry air ... I feel as if I'm breathing better, even if I'm not" -- but his wife, too, says he snored away. Taping a tennis ball to the back of his shirt to keep him on his side finally works.