I Tried Five Products to Stop Snoring and Some Kind of Worked
There was drool, fear, and in one case, quieter sleep.
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When I was little, I remember waking up at night wondering why there was always an 18-wheeler truck parked right outside my window all night revving its engine. It was in fact my father snoring his way through the night—all night every night. While I didn’t inherit my father’s ability to do a dead-on impression of Darth Vader with a sinus infection all night long, I am also a snorer.
I’m also an insomniac. After trying a variety of unsuccessful natural sleep remedies and over-the-counter sleep aids, I finally broke down and got myself some full-blown sleeping pills a few months ago. Although it helps with my morning sleep deprivation rage, my husband says it’s also kicked up my overnight snore score substantially.
I decided to delve into the alluring world of snore solutions to curb my nightly wheeze, but first spoke to sleep medicine specialist Alcibiades Rodriguez of the NYU Langone Medical Center about what actually causes snoring. It turns out it’s all about “turbulent” air, trying to squeeze through a narrow airway.
“If you have a hose with water coming out and you squeeze it,” Rodriguez says, “the water is going to become turbulent because it’s going through a smaller space. The same thing happens to air going through a smaller airway…The narrower airway, the more noise you’re going to make. The extreme of that is when the walls get together and collapse and cause an obstruction.”
Full-on obstruction is a symptom of sleep apnea, in which sufferers experience short periods of time when they stop breathing entirely or have extremely shallow breathing. Sleep apnea can lead to fatigue, blood pressure problems, heart problems and Type 2 diabetes. But I’m just a regular snorer, which the Mayo Clinic says puts me at risk for daytime fatigue (check), frequent frustration or anger (double check), difficulty concentrating (yup), and can lead to heart problems and strokes (yikes).
I decided to confront my snoring demons by spending two weeks sticking things on, in, and around my face for the sake of sleep science—and then reporting back for my fellow snorers. Since my bank account has been systemically drained by my fondness for wine and fidget spinners, I contacted a few companies who specialize in snoring cure-alls to see if they’d let me try out their products for free. A few generously donated their products to my experiment. They may not all be thrilled with my reviews, but lying gives me nightmares, so I didn’t. You’re welcome.
The Nitetronic Smart Anti-Snore Pillow, $199
I have to admit I was intimidated when I realized I’d be sleeping on a pillow attached to a hose attached to what looks like a small vacuum cleaner parked next to my bed. Then I quickly learned you should never judge a pillow by its hose.
The idea behind the Nitetronic is that sensors inside the pillow detect when the user is snoring and parts of the pillow inflate to ever so gently adjust your head position to the side. Side sleeping helps open up the airway, which in turn reduces snoring. It also connects to a smartphone app called NiteLink that tracks your snoring both before and after using the pillow. I slept with the pillow set to “inactive” for the first three nights so that the app could get a baseline of how much I was snoring during the night. The first night I switched it to “active,” I laid down and there was the lightest, slightest whisper of a vibration that lulled me to sleep. My snoring level ranged between 27 percent and 35 percent before it was activated, and after a week of using it, my snoring dropped to zero percent, apparently.
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Also, it was super comfortable. And it got rid of this weird neck pain I’d been having for three weeks. I effing love this pillow. I love this pillow so much that I’m ditching the memory foam pillows I’ve been buying for ten years for something I’ll have to plug into a wall for the rest of my life.
Mute Snore Nose Dilaters, $14.99
To test the rest of my products, I kept using the NiteLink app to track my snoring, but just left my pillow “inactive” so that it would keep tracking my snoring range, without the pillow affecting the results. Then I stuffed some plastic nasal dilators from Mute Snore up my nostrils. I got samples ranging in size from small to extra large and turned out to be a medium. That felt good, because I’m a woman who lives in Hollywood and was worried I’d end up an “extra large” and then I’d develop a complex about having fat nostrils. But nope, I’m a medium.
Stopping snoring is all about opening up the airways, and Mute Snore obviously focuses on the nasal passages as the root of the problem. They were relatively comfortable and discreet enough that I felt like letting my husband see me wearing them in the morning wouldn’t permanently ruin our sex life. The first night, the NiteLink app said my snoring went down to 21 percent and the next night to 20 percent (the pillow told me), so they weren’t super effective in my case, but I also had a hunch that my snoring had more to do with the throat portion of my airway than my nasal passages. The night I wore them I also had a dream that I was snorting cocaine out of a bucket with red and white striped straws hanging out of my nose. I’m not sure if it was related.
The Good Morning Snore Solution Mouthpiece, $99
This mouthpiece focuses on opening up the throat portion of the airway with a “tongue stabilizer” and also restricts your breathing to your nasal passages only. To be completely fair, the directions state that the user is supposed to try the product for a full month before passing judgment on whether or not it’s an effective snore solution, but I was too much of a wimp to even get past night one. The biggest problem, other than trying to relax enough to let my tongue fit into the groove, was that I couldn’t stop drooling.
Every time I swallowed I found myself sucking on the mouthpiece and feeling the drool pool up under my tongue until it eventually started dripping out of the side of my mouth. I also couldn’t record how much or little I snored with this mouthpiece because I couldn’t fall asleep with it in because it led me to having obsessive thoughts about having my mouth bound shut like the lesbians in The Handmaid’s Tale.
SnoreStop Starter Kit, $19.99
This three-in-one product advertises that it’ll help you “simply spray or chew snoring away.” I enjoy simplicity, and I enjoy spraying and chewing, so I was looking forward to this one. This starter kit three-pack included a throat spray, a nasal spray, and chewable tabs. The active, natural ingredients are aimed at helping to shrink swollen soft tissue that blocks nasal passages. I was psyched that I wouldn't have to wear something all night because I’m way into not having to make an effort when I’m trying to sleep. I tried one per night and didn’t see a drop in snoring from either the nasal spray or the throat spray, but on Night #3 I popped a chewable tab and my snoring went down to 22 percent. But I also took a really relaxing bath that night. And I was actually supposed to use all three, each night. I am not a good scientist.
101 Sleep Solutions Breathe Easy Mouthpiece, $129
There was something oddly comforting about this piece because it reminded me of the mouthguard I wore that one time I went to a field hockey practice in eighth grade to see if it was for me. It was not for me. Nor, sadly, was the Breathe Easy mouthpiece. The product aims to move both the snorer’s jawline and tongue forward to open up the throat airway for an easier flow of air.
There’s a hole in the Breathe Easy mouthpiece so you can still breathe through there, but, I mean, it’s like breathing through a hole. The mouthpiece was kind of satisfying to obsessively chew on until the drooling began again. I managed to keep this one in for the night though, and my snoring stayed right at 30 percent. And the amount of drool I left on my precious pillow was comparable to what I imagine a teething baby tiger might produce on a rough night.
Correction 1/31/18: A previous version of this article describes the inconclusive effects of the SnoreStop Starter Kit. A detail was added to indicate that our writer did not use the kit according to instructions.
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