Usual and Unusual Ways to Stop Snoring
For some people, staying off your back can make a big difference. The problem is staying on your back. The most common recommendation is to sew a sock filled with a tennis ball to the back of your
pajamas. This method has mixed results, and in general, although it sounds great, doesn’t work that well. It just only annoys the snorer or they just sleep on top of it.
There are a number of gadgets and devices that prevents you from rolling onto your back. They range from triangular wedges to shirts filled with foam rods to prevent sleeping on your back. The only way to know whether or not they work is to try it. For some people, it can make a huge difference, even if you have obstructive sleep apnea. For many others, you may have a mixed response, or no response at all.
This one positions your arm above your head and somehow forces you to sleep on your side. Again, I’ve heard mixed responses from my patients. If you can sleep with your arm above your head for hours without it becoming numb, then this may work for you.
This pillow works better if you prefer to sleep on your back. The lower end of this pillow is a bit higher than the middle part that the top of your head touches. This forces your head to be cocked back a bit, lifting up your chin somewhat, thereby opening up your airway somewhat. This the the same maneuver that you’re taught to do during CPR to open up the airway before you give mouth-to-mouth. Notice that after you fluff up your pillow you go to bed, the pillow height diminishes slowly, and by the end of the night, your chin is closer to your head, which closes your airway. Another option is to either roll up a towel into a “log” or get one of the Asian husk-filled pillows that are shaped like a roll. You’ll have to experiment to find the right height.
This will help to various degrees for most people who are overweight, but what if you’re already thin? Also, since poor sleep leads to weight gain hormonally and metabolically, it can be very difficult to lose weight no natter how much you diet or exercise. For some, losing 10-15 pounds may help a great deal with your snoring, but chances are, it’ll return sooner or later as you get older.
Whether external (Breathe-Rite) or internal (Nozovent, Nasal Cones, or Breathewitheez), these work sometimes by pulling your soft flimsy nostrils apart, preventing nostril collapse when you inhale. During sleep, especially when your muscles relax, any degree of nasal congestion can aggravate higher vacuum pressures that can aggravate tongue collapse. Despite being touted to cure snoring, it only works about 10% of the time. Here’s one simple test to see if you should invest any money on these products: take both you index fingers and gently press on your skin, right next to your nostrils. Press gently and pull your cheeks apart on each side towards the outer corners of the eyes. This is called the Cottle maneuver.
Playing any type of wind instrument (flute, clarinet, trumpet, etc.) can in theory promote throat and tongue muscle tone. Reports of success are anecdotal.
Various studies have suggested that playing this ancient Aborigine wind instrument can help relieve snoring. The mechanism in how it works is similar to any wind instrument.
The mechanical act of singing promotes profound throat muscle tone and control. Similar to all the wind instruments, prolonged periods of singing promotes relaxation, since exhalation is activated by your parasympathetic nervous system.
Has been found to be helpful for some people, but needs continuous exercises. Recent studies have confirmed some benefit.
Various mixtures of herbs and natural ingredients are promoted for snoring, but a recent objective study showed that they were not helpful.
No consistent evidence, but helps with stress and fatigue. One recent study showed a drop in the apnea severity by 50%. I do find it helpful in some of my patients as a complementary form of treatment in addition to standard options.
Works to wake you up to stop snoring, but never curative. This is called the “bruised rib syndrome”.
More expensive than a bedpartner elbowing you in the ribs.
May help the bedpartner sleep, but not very effective for the very low-frequency snoring vibrations.
Usually alleviates the problem, but bad for relationships, and not very helpful for “heroic” snorers where the sounds vibrate the bedroom walls 2-3 rooms down.