I’m a sleep surgeon and here’s my verdict on 9 gadgets that ‘cure’ snoring
SLEEP next to a foghorn? Or are you the rowdy snorer in your bedroom?
The experts says to sleep on your side to avoid that middle of the night shove and grumbles of, ‘Turn over, you’re snoring’, but it’s often not that simple.
Now an intelligent pillow – which monitors your movements and breathing while you sleep – could offer a solution.
The ‘Motion Pillow’, unveiled for the first time at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, contains four built-in airbags that adjust to encourage you to move into a new position when the tell-tale rumbling starts.
While the Korean invention is still a long way from being available to the general public, there are already dozens of potential snoring solutions being touted to snorers – and their long-suffering partners.
Vik Veer, Consultant ENT Sleep Surgeon at the Royal National ENT Hospital in London, UCLH, gives his expert verdict on some other tech and techniques already on offer, to help you – and whoever may be sharing your bed – get a good night’s sleep…
Sentik Snore Stopper Bracelet (£15, amazon.co.uk)
This bit of kit contains a tiny microphone designed to detect snoring and sends an electronic pulse to the wrist.
In theory, these pulses cause you to wake and shift slightly, to alter your sleep position and stop snoring.
DR VIK’S VERDICT: In theory this would work to reduce snoring because what it does is wake you up slightly every time the machine notices you are starting to snore.
This however would give you poor quality sleep and does not actually stop you from snoring.
It also wouldn’t be able to differentiate between someone else snoring, which would end up being picked up by the microphone and waking you up as a consequence.
White Knightsbridge Dual Band Anti Snoring Chin Strap (£46.99, amazon.co.uk)
Also known as a jaw supporter, this contraption wraps around the back of your head to hold your jaw in place during sleep and keep your mouth closed.
Open mouth sleeping can lead to extra pressure on the throat, which may lead to the vibrations that cause snoring.
DR VIK’S VERDICT: This device is very good for people who have good open nasal airway but still snore because they continue to breathe through their mouth.
This device will close your mouth at night and force you to breathe through your nose instead, which often reduces snoring and stops your jaw from falling back.
This device also doesn’t push back your tongue.
eXciteOSA Daytime Sleep Apnoea Therapy (£595, intushealthcare.com)
This new device is pretty pricey – and you have to replace the mouthpiece every three months.
However, as one of the few devices you don’t have to wear at night, it’s used to strengthen up the muscles in the tongue during the day to help prevent snoring when you’re asleep.
It works by passing a small electrical current through four electrodes, two above and two under the tongue.
Recommended to be used for 20 minutes each day for six weeks, it causes the tongue muscles to contract rapidly, which in time is thought to result in stronger muscles and less snoring.
DR VIK’S VERDICT: There are some preliminary studies which show that this has benefited people particularly with respect to snoring.
Since there’s some solid science to back this up, I’d definitely consider looking at this option – if you can afford it.
In a clinical trial 115 patients had an average of 41% reduction in their snoring at six weeks.
Anti Snore Nose Clip (£6.98 from amazon.co.uk)
One of many similar products on the market, this small plastic ring featuring two magnets – you attach it to your nose overnight with a view to open the nasal passage, increase air flow and prevent snoring.
DR VIK’S VERDICT: I cannot recommend these devices, there is no evidence that they work and if anything, they are likely to make things worse by blocking your nose.
This is basically a straw that goes into your mouth and creates a vacuum to draw the tongue and palate forward, in order to stop them from blocking your throat – which can cause snoring.
DR VIK’S VERDICT: There are a few trials on this device that show it can work for snoring as well as sleep apnoea (when your breathing stops and starts during sleep).
In a recent trial, 35 patients with severe sleep apnoea were returned to almost normal levels.
It’s expensive, but the data is promising.
What is snoring?
LATEST data shows over 41 percent of UK adults snore, with men being twice as likely to suffer from the tell-tale nocturnal rumbling.
And the older you get, the more likely you are to snore, with 58 percent of those in their 50s making their windows rattle at night.
No surprise, then that 39 percent of us admit to regularly fleeing to a spare room in search of peace, with one in nine sleeping separately on a permanent basis because of the problem.
Snoring can be caused by a number of factors, including a nasal blockage or a floppy soft palate which vibrates as the air passes.
“Pin-pointing the exact cause of your snoring is essential if you want to find a cure,” says Myles Black, a consultant ENT consultant surgeon at The Private Clinic of Harley Street and East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.
“Ideally every snorer should get a full medical assessment, looking at everything from the nasal cavity to the back of the throat – there’s no such thing as a cure-all.
“Roughly 30-50% are tongue-based snorers and the rest are spread around obesity, nasal obstruction.
“The fallacy is the assumption that all these devices fit all sizes – often it’s a multi-level problem, with a combination of issues.”
As a starter, try the quiz on the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association’s website, britishsnoring.co.uk.
“In extreme cases the airway can completely collapse, leading to a condition called sleep apnoea where the sufferer has to wake him or herself up sometimes hundreds of times a night to breathe – leaving them feeling utterly exhausted the next day.
“In cases like these, it’s paramount to seek proper medical advice through your GP.
It can be detrimental to everything from your relationship, to your job, to your safety driving, so get help before it’s too late.”
SomniShirt Anti Snore T-shirt (£32.95, somnishop.co.uk)
Featuring a hard foam roll in the back panel, this t-shirt design aims to educate your body to sleep on your side.
This helps “prevent the tongue from sinking backwards into the throat when sleeping”, which in turn should help stop you from snoring.
DR VIK’S VERDICT: I think that the foam stitched into the back is too small to force you to sleep completely on your side.
Sleeping at a three-quarter angle rather than completely on your side would not stop you having problems with your tongue falling back and blocking your breathing.
You need to be ideally in the ‘recovery position’ which we doctors often used to keep the airway open during unconsciousness.
A new type of memory foam pillow which the manufacturer claims to be ‘gravity defying’ – not just supporting your head and neck, but actively pushing it up. By doing so, the theory goes that your airways are kept properly aligned and fully open as you sleep, resulting in reduced snoring.
DR VIK’S VERDICT: I’m not a massive fan of snoring pillows as people often work out a way to sleep on their back despite their clever designs.
These pillows don’t manage to force you to sleep on your side, which defeats the purpose.
I would recommend a large backpack or something else that prevents you from sleeping on your back.
These include strengthening the tongue to stop it falling back into your throat and blocking your airway – stick your tongue as far out as possible, move it left and right, up and down for at least fifteen repetitions of this exercise and gradually increase this.
Alternatively, strengthen the muscles around the face and around the mouth with an exaggerated kiss posture held for up to five seconds.
Making this puckered face has been known to strengthen the bottom section of the face and can be an effective way to reduce snoring, the websites say.
Other postures you can try are an exaggerated smile and repeating the alphabet silently with a large and exaggerated facial expression.
DR VIK’S VERDICT: There is a clinical meta-analysis showing that exercises for the tongue and throat improve snoring and sleep apnoea by approximately 50 percent.
This has reasonable evidence for it, and it has spawned a new field dedicated to it known as myofunctional therapy.
Definitely worth a go, as it’s free.
These are similar to gum shields that boxers wear, but they pull your lower jaw forward and help with snoring and sleep apnoea.
Many dentists are able to make these devices to mould to your own mouth for a perfect fit, but this Oniris one is off the shelf and adjustable.
DR VIK’S VERDICT: There’s a huge amount of research to back up their efficacy and they are a part of the national guidelines for snoring and sleep apnoea.
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