What the best snoring remedy does
- Works for your type of snoring. Nasal strips, such as Breathe Right Nasal Strips (Est. $11 for a box of 26) only help nasal-related snoring, while a custom-fitted mouthpiece works for most types of snoring, including sleep apnea.
- Is easy to use. A snoring remedy can only work if you actually use it. Many reviewers say they gave up on otherwise effective remedies because they found them too uncomfortable or inconvenient to use.
- Doesn't cost too much. Although a custom-fitted mouthpiece works for most snorers, it's an awfully pricey remedy, and insurance doesn't always cover it. So you're better off trying less expensive treatments first to see if they can provide relief.
Know before you go
Have you tried behavioral changes? Before you buy any snoring remedies, doctors say you should try these four things: stop smoking, lose weight if necessary, sleep on your side (if that doesn't come naturally, try using a body pillow, or secure a tennis ball to the back of your pajama top) and avoid alcohol within four hours of bedtime. These things are free, for the most part, and they're proven to help eliminate snoring. Another lifestyle remedy that works for some people is singing or playing certain musical instruments, which can help tone the muscles of the throat.
Do you snore because you're congested? If so, experts say opening up nasal passages can do the trick and eliminate snoring. Start by eliminating allergens in your bedroom (an air purifier can help). If that doesn't help, more moisture may do the trick. Stay well hydrated during the day, take a hot shower before bedtime, and consider using a saline nasal rinse. A humidifier in the bedroom could also be helpful. Breathe Right Nasal Strips can also be useful for this kind of snoring.
Have you done your research? According to experts, most over-the-counter snoring remedies don't have any scientific evidence to back them up. Although some users say they get relief from special pillows, throat sprays and the like, most sleep doctors don't recommend them.
Is the problem your partner's snoring, rather than your own? If you've tried everything to treat your partner's snoring and nothing seems to help, perhaps it's time to approach the problem from the other direction. An inexpensive pair of earplugs will allow you to ignore your partner's snoring and sleep through the night.
What's to come
Good Housekeeping magazine is enthusiastic about Nora, a wireless gadget paired with an inflatable pad that tucks in your pillow. When you start to snore, the controller detects the noise and signals the pad to adjust your pillow height, opening your airways so you can breathe normally. One caution is that Nora isn't on the market yet, so there's no track record regarding its effectiveness in the real world, but it can be pre-ordered from the company's web site for $259.
Snoring and sleep apnea
If your snoring is severe and disruptive, it may be a symptom of a serious breathing disorder: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, loud snoring and OSA are both caused by narrowing of the airways during sleep. People with OSA actually stop breathing for seconds at a time during sleep – usually at least five times per hour, and hundreds of times per night in severe cases. This deprives your brain and body of oxygen and wakes you up.
If your snoring problem is disruptive enough to make you search for a cure, you may actually have a mild, moderate or even severe case of OSA, which requires diagnosis and treatment. This is especially important if you live alone; a spouse or partner is likely to demand that you visit a after seeing you in distress during the night, but if you sleep on your own, you may be unaware of the problem.
So, how can you tell the difference between garden-variety snoring and dangerous sleep apnea? Only a doctor can diagnose that, but here are some questions you can ask yourself to help determine whether you suffer from sleep apnea:
- Do you wake up feeling fatigued or headachy, even after a full night's sleep?
- Are you sleepy during the day – even accidentally falling asleep such as while working, driving, or watching TV?
- Does your partner say you snore loudly or stop breathing during sleep?
- Do you sometimes awaken with a loud choking or gasping sound?
- Does your mouth feel dry in the morning? (That's a sign you've been breathing through your mouth.)
- Do you wake up frequently to urinate? (OSA can affect the hormones that control your kidneys.)
To diagnose OSA, your doctor will have you undergo a sleep study, either at home or at a sleep center. You'll sleep hooked up to sensors that allow a machine to collect information about how you're sleeping. If you are indeed suffering from sleep apnea, don't self-treat with the remedies described in this report. Instead, consult with your doctor to find the best way to treat your condition.