In all the articles we found, only two types of anti-snoring products receive even a lukewarm recommendation (in a "they might work, but they probably won't" kind of way): internal nasal dilators and external nasal dilator strips. As for internal nasal dilators -- which you insert into your nostrils at night to keep nasal passages open -- the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says there are some studies showing their effectiveness to stop snoring, but each of these studies enrolled a limited number of patients, and a whopping 40 percent of these users couldn't sleep with the dilators in place.
External nasal dilators -- the most popular example of which are Breathe Right Nasal Strips (*Est. $6 for box of 12) -- are a slightly different story. According to AASM, studies of these strips have shown contradictory results -- patients themselves say they sleep more comfortably with less snoring, but noise monitors show no reduction in the volume of snoring.
Still, perhaps because they're so cheap and easy to use, Breathe Right Nasal Strips are far and away the most-mentioned product in the stop-snoring literature. The Australian consumer magazine Choice, Britain's Which? magazine and others all give Breathe Right tepid recommendations. Which?, for example, points out that Breathe Right only works with snoring of nasal origin, which it says accounts for only ten percent of all snoring cases. In other words, if the reason you snore is a floppy flap of skin situated at the back of your throat, Breathe Right strips won't have any effect whatsoever.
Not everyone has good things to say about Breathe Right strips. One study cited by WebMD was conducted a few years ago by an Air Force doctor in San Antonio, Texas, who compared the effectiveness of the lubricating mouth spray Snorenz, the ergonomic pillow Snore-No-More, and Breathe Right strips by having 37 snorers try each of the products for one night apiece. All failed miserably, though the company that makes Breathe Right insists that its strips need to be used for six consecutive nights to stop snoring (or even to just show improvement). Writing for Slate, Chip Brantley echoes the opinions of other reviewers on Breathe Right strips: "I like that raw rush of cold, dry air I seem to take in when wearing one. I feel as if I'm breathing better, even if I'm not." He's not, apparently; his wife complains that he's snoring as loudly as ever.
Besides internal and external nasal dilators, sprays and lubricants are the only over-the-counter snoring cessation products to receive even the tiniest smidgen of approval from the medical establishment. Since hard data is difficult to come by, the most that an authority like AASM can do is consult existing studies and conclude that sprays and lubricants "probably" reduce snoring; in this case, the Committee is more generous than product testing organizations, which say that there's no evidence to back up manufacturers' claims that their products stop snoring. For this reason, we did not include any stop-snoring sprays or lubricants in ConsumerSearch Fast Answers.
In the hands-on review at Slate magazine, Chip Brantley says he stopped his snoring by taping a tennis ball to the back of his t-shirt (most snoring occurs when the sleeper is in that position). This may not be the right solution for everybody, but it's certainly much cheaper -- and potentially much less aggravating -- than exploring various OTC stop snoring products.