sleep week

How to Stop Snoring, According to Sleep Doctors

Photo: Courtesy of Fox.

Snoring has been called “log-sawing,” “gravel-grinding,” and “shingle-rattling,” all names that suggest how ear-shattering its effects can be. It’s not fun, whether you’re the snorer (for sleep apnea reasons) or the person sleeping next to one. Some people snore seasonally due to sinus issues and allergies, while chronic snorers may find that advancing age, weight gain, or nose and throat abnormalities like enlarged tonsils are factors, says Neomi Shah, an associate professor of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Michael Gelb, a sleep disorder and sleep apnea specialist who has been in the field for over 30 years, also blames Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (a sleep apnea disorder associated with a blocked or narrow airway) as a major cause of snoring. Narrow airways have become more and more common over time, he says, and it’s why he frequently recommends devices that open them up. Avoiding alcohol, sedatives, and sleeping on your back can help, too, but if the snoring persists, talk to an ENT or have a doctor run a sleep apnea test. In the short-term, we asked both experts to recommend some snoring aids that work.

This one’s more of a single-use type of thing, but Gelb says even a Breathe Right strip can help. It sits right above the nostril, lifting the sinus passage to allow for increased airflow. Because snoring is so individual, Gelb says the important thing is trying things out to see what works.

If you want to use something that will physically open up your airways, Gelb recommends the Muse dilator, a reusable device that you insert within your nostrils to increase airflow.

Both Gelb and Shah strongly recommend trying a mouth guard for snoring, too. They’re available over-the-counter, though ideally you should seek out a dentist or doctor who can custom-fit one to your mouth. For over-the-counter, Gelb likes this Zyppah mouthpiece, invented by dentist Jonathan Greenburg, because it opens the airway and the soft palate. “Everyone’s been hearing about Zyppah,” he says, explaining that it molds to the teeth and works by not allowing the tongue to draw back into the interior of the throat while preventing the jaw from opening back up.

If you’re on a budget, here’s another popular mouthguard called Dr. Sleep. It’s made of a pliable plastic that molds to your mouth after you leave it in a cup of hot water, with a strap to keep your tongue in place during sleep.

Some people inhale essential oils, too, in order to open up their airways. Gelb cites the Breathe essential oil by doTerra as a popular choice. It’s a “respiratory blend” that includes eucalyptus, mint, and lemon oil, which you’re supposed to apply to your chest like a Vicks Vaporub and breathe in. But certainly there are things with menthol and eucalyptus, too, says Gelb, that might be useful. “That’s a temporary thing, and I don’t know if that’s a long-term solution, but anything that’s going to open you up is going to make you feel better.”