A throaty roar… a wheezing whistle… snoring comes in all manner of irritating variations. Half the men and a third of women in the UK are afflicted by the condition, and their partners suffer, too, with broken sleep.
Snoring is caused by turbulent airflow, which causes tissues of the nose and throat to vibrate, resulting in grunts and snorts. And it often gets worse with age as muscles in our throat slacken.
Losing weight, cutting down on alcohol and not smoking can help, but there is no cure. There are, however, many remedies. Dr Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, gives his verdict on six that could work for you… and one that probably won’t.
1: Nasal strips and dilators to help you stop snoring
Nasal strips are a bit like sticking plasters that you apply over your nose to help open up the nostrils. Dilators are plastic devices that you insert into your nose to prevent nostril collapse and allow more air in.
Best for Mild snoring caused by a blocked nose.
Expert verdict ‘There’s not much research to support these, but anecdotally they seem to help some snorers. They are not for snorers with obstructive sleep apnoea,’ says Dr Idzikowski.
Try The Breathing Relief Nasal Dilator, £20 from breathingrelief.com, 0844 225 0716 or selected Waitrose stores
2: Sprays and rinses to help you stop snoring
These remedies are designed to soothe inflammation, reduce stuffiness and/or irrigate the nasal passages. Some target the tissues of the nose while others target the throat.
Best for Snoring caused by nasal congestion or allergic rhinitis.
Expert verdict ‘The evidence is slight, but they may help some people – again, not those affected by obstructive sleep apnoea or the tongue flopping to the back of the throat.’
Try Nytol Anti-Snoring Spray, a foam throat spray containing seaweed-based carrageenan and lubricating oils to help the foam adhere to and firm the throat tissues. £12.99 from Boots.
3: Mouth shields to help you stop snoring
Moulded devices worn inside the mouth to keep it shut while sleeping.
Best for People who snore with their mouth open.
Expert verdict ‘Slightly more evidence that these work. Those with no nasal congestion may benefit.’
Try Somni Snore Guard, £31 inc p&p from britishsnoring.co.uk, 0800 085 1097
For more information about ways to prevent snoring, read our guide.
4: Mandibular advancement devices to help you stop snoring
A kind of dental splint worn while you sleep that holds your lower jaw slightly forward to tighten the soft tissue and muscles of the upper airway, stopping them collapsing. This in turn enables air to flow more freely, reducing soft tissue vibration.
Best for So-called ‘tongue base snorers’, whose tongue flops to the back of the throat causing an obstruction, or mild apnoea sufferers.
Expert verdict ‘There’s good evidence to support these, provided your teeth are sound. But they must always be properly fitted and regularly checked by a dentist.’
Try The Sleepwell, a custom-made mouthpiece with a soft inner lining. Around £350, from s4sdental.com, 0114 250 0176. The SnoreWizard is a ‘one size fits all’ device, but if it doesn’t work there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. £44.99 from 0800 528 3278, snorewizard.com
5: CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) to help you stop snoring
This is a nose and/or mouth mask that is attached to a machine that ensures there is a constant flow of air into the nostrils while you are sleeping.
Best for Recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence for snorers with obstructive sleep apnoea.
Expert verdict ‘Considered the “gold standard” for people with obstructive sleep apnoea, it can make a huge difference to daytime sleepiness and risk of health problems.’
Try GoodKnight 420G CPAP. One of the lightest and quietest machines available. You’ll need a prescription from your doctor. £299 plus £18.50 shipping, from britishsnoring.co.uk, as before
6: Surgery to help you stop snoring
Various operations can be performed to remove excess tissue in the nose and/or throat or firm the soft palate to reduce vibration. Each has its pros and cons, so consider the options carefully.
Best for Extreme snorers – although not usually those with sleep apnoea – for whom other options have failed or who don’t like CPAP.
Expert verdict ‘Surgery may have a place for some snorers, but recovery can be painful and tissue may regrow. They may still need CPAP.’
Plus, you could always try...
Singing away the snores?
‘Singing therapy for snoring became trendy a few years ago after it was noticed that certain opera singers were quite large but didn’t snore, though they’d be expected to do so,’ says Dr Idzikowski. ‘So far, there’s no evidence that it really helps.’
Sleep apnoea: when the snoring has to stop
For around 600,000 people in the UK, snoring is a sign of the more serious obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), where the snorer stops breathing, often many times throughout the night. It can cause severe daytime sleepiness and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
A home sleep study, available on the NHS (or from the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association for £300, britishsnoring.co.uk, as before), can identify why you snore and whether you need treatment. More details at sleep-apnoea-trust.org
Please note: web addresses and prices were correct at the time of publication in 2013. However, prices and web addresses can, and do, change from time to time. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you spot any inaccuracies of this kind.