A year ago I was diagnosed with nasal polyps and was regularly snoring like a wild boar. I had the polyps removed, but the snoring continues. I’m not alone. According to the Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine (Fifth Edition), “approximately 40% of the adult population” snores. Sometimes my snoring wakes my husband up (and vice versa), so I decided to try six popular over-the-counter anti-snoring contraptions.
To get a baseline measurement of how much I snored without any intervention, I used SnoreLab, a popular app that listens for snoring sounds, records clips, and analyzes your resting audio. After calculating an average of snore readings without intervention from four nights to get a starting “sleep score”, I then slept with each anti-snoring device for several nights and tracked my SnoreLab results against this baseline. (Note that some of these devices may work for you and not for me – and none of them should be used to treat sleep apnea. If you are in restless sleep, awake breathless, or even if you feel tired and foggy during the day, see a doctor.)
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While longer-term testing is needed before we can confidently recommend any of these, a few devices showed promise in our preliminary trials – and far from scientific. Here’s how they did it, in order of how much I found they helped:
Smart Nora, $329 at press time
This system will move your head slightly when it catches you snoring. It includes a wireless device with a microphone that can be bedside or wall mounted to detect snoring. Once done, it communicates with an under-bed base station that pumps air through a tube to an insert that lives inside your pillow. This movement gently adjusts your head position to reduce snoring (in my case, it did this effectively without waking me up). It sounds weird, but it was actually the most effective device I’ve tried, cutting my overall snoring in half, according to my SnoreLab sleep scores. It is also the most expensive. There are many customization options, which we will continue to test.
Venyn Nose Vents, $22 (set of four) at press time
It’s basically a pair of tiny silicone funnels that fit inside your nose to dilate your nostrils. The set comes with four different sizes for the perfect fit. It didn’t totally stop me from snoring, but they reduced it by a third on one of the three nights I used it, warranting further testing. I just don’t like how it made the inside of my nose crusty every morning. It sounds gross, but the vents are easy to clean with just a little soap and warm water.
Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band, $200 at press time
This group attaches a small electronic device to your chest. When it detects that you are on your back, it vibrates to reposition you. According to American Academy of Sleep Medicine spokesperson Nitun Verma, MD, when you sleep on your back, your chin and tongue are pulled down by gravity, which reduces the space behind your tongue and promotes snoring. Unfortunately, I snore while sleeping on all sides, so this was not a good solution for me. Also, I couldn’t always tell if the band was working because the controls were confusing.
ZEEQ Smart Pillow, $50 at press time
This memory foam pillow pairs with a smartphone app that detects snoring and vibrates the pillow, prompting you to change positions. (The ZEEQ can also stream music from your phone via Bluetooth, if you find that useful for falling asleep.) The pillow comes with extra memory foam to help hide the electronics; ready to use, it is comfortable, although difficult to insert into a standard pillowcase. It also did nothing to reduce my snoring.
Breathe Right Lavender Scented Strips, $12.50 (26-pack) at time of publication
This stiff bandage-like adhesive strip pulls the sides of your nose to open up your nasal passages. It promises instant congestion relief – and delivered, though I’m not sure if it was because of the actual strip, the pressure needed to apply it, or the pleasant lavender scent. However, in the morning it was still coming off, which may explain why there was no significant change in my snoring overnight.
Copeaky anti-snore chin strap, $11 at time of publication
It looks like something you’d wear to a wrestling match: the chin strap closes your mouth and forces you to breathe through your nose. It doesn’t come with instructions, but I managed to smash my face into this thing and (somehow) fall asleep, only to be woken up at 3am feeling sick comfortable and soaked in drool. It also did nothing for my snoring.
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A version of this article appears at Wirecutter.com.