Do anti-snoring devices work? : Blows

The back of your throat relaxes when you sleep, which can cause your airways to vibrate – in a thunderous snore.

Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Getty Images


The back of your throat relaxes when you sleep, which can cause your airways to vibrate – in a thunderous snore.

Getty Images

How far would you go to drown out the thunderous sniffles and buzzsaw grunts of a spouse or roommate, just so you can get a good night’s sleep? Dozens of anti-snoring devices flood the market, ranging from mildly absurd to moderately torturous.

“Some of them are more medieval than others,” says Dr. Kim Hutchison, associate professor of sleep medicine in the department of neurology at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon. And some of the devices, she said, even have some basics in fact.

“When you sleep, the back of your throat relaxes. This narrows your airways, and when you inhale, it vibrates them,” says Hutchison. Thus, many anti-snoring products aim to open up these airways or the tunnels leading to them. For example, you can buy hollow nose plugs which, instead of closing the nostrils, keep them open.

“If you have a deviated septum or something like that, it might help open your nose and reduce snoring,” Hutchison says, but it won’t help everyone because “most snoring occurs at the back of your nose.” your throat”.

Other devices are designed to force sleepers to turn onto their side.

“Sleeping on your back causes your tongue to block your airway a bit, much like the skinny part of a balloon, when you let air out of it,” Hutchison says. So some devices combine straps and pillows that make sleeping on your back uncomfortable — or sting you if you roll over.

There are also chin rests aimed at repositioning your jaw to open the airway. They might work for some, says Dr. Richard Schwab, director of the Pennsylvania Sleep Center. But a chinstrap in the market covers the entire mouth of the wearer. ” A bad idea ! says Schwab. “You should never cover your mouth, you could choke.”

Devices that prick and gently push might help some snorers, Hutchison says. Eventually, some people stop sleeping on their back, to avoid being stung into consciousness. If that’s not annoying enough, there are more insistent devices: wristbands that send out a small electric shock every time you snore.

It sounds drastic. But maybe not, if love is at stake.

“Snoring can create a lot of stress in a relationship,” Schwab points out. “It’s intermittent noise so you can’t get over it. People lose so much sleep they can’t sleep in the same bed.”

And snoring that regularly bothers your partner could be a sign you should see a doctor, says Schwab. You may have sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by loud snoring and interrupted breathing. People with untreated apnea are at higher risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

Many cases of apnea go undiagnosed, Schwab says. Consider getting your snoring partner to see a doctor, even before trying some of the home remedies.

“If you’re treating snoring and not sleep apnea, you may never be evaluated,” says Schwab. And that’s important, because sleep apnea is treatable.

Sleepers can wear masks linked to CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines, which are very effective at keeping the airways open and stopping the problem, he says. Sleep apnea can prevent the snorer from getting a deep sleep; many people say they feel more awake after using the machines.

The hum of the machine might take some getting used to, says Schwab, but it’s much quieter than the hum, so housemates generally love them. The bonus for the snorer: It does not shock you when you wake up. And it actually works.