So, have you got to a point where you desperately need help with snoring? Whether it is you that snores or you are the ones that are lacking in sleep from your partner snoring, it can be incredibly embarrassing and frustrating. In the UK, snoring alone is considered a nuisance condition, rather than a medical one leaving people feeling a little like they can’t or shouldn’t bother their doctor with it and yet not knowing quite where else to turn.
Sleep deprivation however isn’t good for you causing irritability, arguments, mental health issues, risks of accidents and possibly worse. Snoring is also associated with a medical condition called Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and this is linked to a raising in ‘all-cause mortality. If you are suffering from very loud snoring; pauses in breathing, choking noises or waking very tired you must consider whether you need investigation for OSA and seek medical help for sleep studies.
For other snoring advice, however, there are things you can do and should perhaps consider. In this article, we look at what help you can get with snoring and what might be relevant to you in improving your own position.
Lifestyle factors that influence snoring
Smoking – Sorry smokers! I know you get frustrated that everything seems to be blamed on smoking but there are a lot of toxins inhaled through cigarette smoke and they do have their impacts. There is no doubt that smoking increases the chances of snoring and stopping can improve things. If you can’t stop completely, consider trying to reduce the pre-sleep cigarettes and see if that helps you.
Alcohol – Most snorers are aware of this one as even those who don’t consider themselves a snorer will perhaps have had a night or two of being told off by their partner after an alcohol session. The likely cause is that the alcohol over-relaxes the pharynx (mouth) tissue and makes it floppier. During sleep this allows it to vibrate with mouth breathing.
Obesity – Being obese or even just overweight, increases the probability you will be a snorer. Of particular relevance is weight and excess tissue around the neck. This likely narrows the airway and increases the chance of vibrating pharyngeal tissue. If you can get your weight down then you may well find your snoring improves.
Exercise – Exercise will obviously increase the chances of weight loss. As we’ve already described that this helps to snore, it perhaps isn’t too much of a surprise this may well help. However, what is more, is that we know that exercise is also an independent factor that will help to snore. We don’t tend to recommend exercising just before bed, as it is known to add to sleep disturbance but exercise earlier in the day can still bring benefits around snoring. The mechanism isn’t exactly known. Whether there is some general tightening of tissue from overall exercise it is unclear.
The above factors not only help with snoring but are obviously of general benefit to your life. It can be demoralising when you are feeling tired from a condition such as snoring and you are aware that other issues in your life need addressing but the energy simply isn’t there to get to address them. This is especially true if the rewards aren’t immediate. Breaking vicious circles is never easy. Our advice would be to consider things like: setting yourself a date; focus on the one issue that is most important to you; involve family or friends where they can be of help and support; try and avoid places or activities that tend to be a particular challenge for you (places where you might be prone to eat, drink or smoke more); get professional support where appropriate (especially for smoking and weight loss) and only exercise safely and within your limits.
There is a plethora of snoring devices out there and it isn’t easy to work out the differences or which one is for you.
Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADS)
The commonest and arguably most evidenced-based are the group of Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs). They are fairly well evidenced now 1(De Meyer et al. 2020). They consist usually of a piece of moulded plastic that is fairly firmly fitted in order to protrude the jaw slightly. In order to achieve this, they come in a variety of materials; sections and designs, also leading to a variety of prices.
Most MADs use the upper row of teeth as an anchor point to push or pull the bottom row (jaw) forward. This can be by a fixed amount of, on some devices, have methods to alter the amount. This fit itself can be: average fitting (cheapest); boil and self-fitted at home (middle range) or custom-fitted with impressions (most expensive). The materials in boil and bite devices sometimes are less robust than others. Various types of methods and designs offer varying degrees of comfort and success.
Aching jaws, discomfort during sleep, aesthetics of going to be looking like Hannibal Lecter and cleanliness of such products still cause concerns for users.
Nasal dilator devices
For the smaller group of people whose blocked nose leads them to mouth breathing at night, this group of devices can be of benefit 2 (Höijer et al., 1992). This proportion is relatively low as an overall cause of snoring, however. Nasal strips are a plastic alternative which has become more popular, possibly as they have been seen used by some athletes.
These are used simply to prevent breathing through the mouth. Straps are also on offer in order to encourage a closed mouth at night.
Mouth Training Devices (or ‘Sleep Disordered Breathing soft palate exerciser’)
To our knowledge, this is limited to a selection of three devices IQoro and Dragon Pearl (circa £150) and Snorgo (circa £40). These devices have early evidence but are relatively newer to the market. Only one of these is worn at night so they can offer a different solution to those who are reluctant to attach things to them when they are trying to sleep. Their action is completely different from other devices in that they are trying to restore the normal strength and function of the palatal (mouth) tissue and making it less floppy and prone to the vibration that makes the snoring noise. The evidence is still growing on these but early work is encouraging and many people are seeing if they can get benefit from these before leading to other more uncomfortable and likely permanent options. Snorgo’s exercise claims it only requires about 5 minutes three times each day for training with testimonials noticing a big improvement within a week. If training devices work for you, they also carry a big advantage of a potential ongoing improvement after use. This could be one of the biggest revolutions to snoring treatments ever.
- De Meyer MMD, Vanderveken OM, De Weerdt S, Marks LAM, Cárcamo BA, Chavez AM, Matamoros FA, Jacquet W. Use of mandibular advancement devices for the treatment of primary snoring with or without obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): A systematic review. Sleep Med Rev. 2021 Apr;56:101407. DOI: 10.1016/j.smrv.2020.101407. Epub 2020 Nov 29. PMID: 33326914.
- Höijer U, Ejnell H, Hedner J, Petruson B, Eng LB. The effects of nasal dilation on snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1992 Mar;118(3):281-4. doi: 10.1001/archotol.1992.01880030069015. PMID: 1554449.
Dr Pete Naylor is the inventor of Snorgo, a patented snoring cure made in the UK recommended by medical doctors.
Wirral CCG Chair 2014 – 2016
General Practitioner (GP) 2000-2017
National Institute for health and Care Excellence National GP representative (Diagnostics) 2012 – 2018
Associate Medical Director ICE Creates 2018 – 2020
Senate Council Member Merseyside 2014 – 2017
Forensic Medical Examiner Merseyside/Wirral 2005 – 2008
Youth Justice Management Board Wirral 2015 – 2017
NHS Doctor 1996 – 2017
GMC registered Doctor 1996 to present
Master of Science in Medical Leadership Birkbeck University and Royal College of Physicians. (Awarded Merit) 2013
OPP Myers Briggs Trainer, 2010. Subsequently also completed Step 2 to further support training
Diploma in Occupational Health, 2006
Diploma in Child Health, 2000
Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery, Sheffield University, 1996
Bachelor of Science, Psychiatric Neurobiology, Sheffield, 1995. Work produced papers on mRNA and Brain Plasticity.
Outstanding Innovative and Inspirational Leader 2013 Northwest Leadership Academy (Given for commissioning work with Wirral Health Commissioning Consortium.)
Vision Award 2012 (National award): Best Long Term Condition Initiative for WHCC
North West Respiratory Best Practice Award 2012: Self Care Award for WHCC
Diploma in Occupational Health – annual award