Ninety million Americans snore, according to the National Sleep Foundation. If you sleep next to one of those snorers, you suffer too.
“Some have coined the term ‘secondhand snorer's disease,’" sleep specialist Dr. Joseph Ojile told “Good Morning America” about the sleep disruption those partners endure. “It's not an official diagnosis, but it's a term. They become irritable.”
Before we look at new devices to try and stop snoring, we should mention the health concerns about sleep apnea are real. Many snorers suffer from the disease and should be tested. The Sleep Apnea Association has a website to help you determine if your snoring is a sign of apnea. I’ve been tested twice in the course of my reporting for “Good Morning America” and I don’t have apnea, but boy do I saw some logs.
So back to the question: Is there anything we can do to alleviate snoring for the sake of our spouses and partners?
First, assess how bad it is. I have been in denial about my snoring, but trying out different snoring apps for this story has disabused me of the notion that I only mildly snore. I tried multiple snoring apps and settled on Snore Lab as the one I liked best. The free version works by accessing your phone’s microphone, then with the app running you place it face down on your bedside table. In the morning, it graphically shows the most significant snoring events that transpired during the night and lets you listen to them. I had no idea my snoring was this bad. Honey, I am so sorry!
The premium version of the app offers some other tools that let you note corresponding events like being overtired or excessive drinking. It also records multiple nights of sleep and offers coaching tips. My favorite part about the app is that it ranks your snoring compared to other users and also qualifies the volume of your snoring: mild, loud and EPIC! I was only in the “loud” category, which makes me feel true empathy for anyone who sleeps with an “EPIC” snorer.
Two new options exist for snorers -- so new they are either on back order or not yet available so we were not able to test them.
The $279 Nora Smart Sleep solution uses a microphone next to the bed and a remotely connected air bladder under your pillow. When you snore, it triggers the inflation of the airbag, which tilts your pillow and adjusts the angle of your head. The company says this will alleviate snoring.
Similarly, the Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed offers automatic snore detection and adjustment of the snorer’s head position. Their beds use biometrics like heart rate and breathing rate to assess snoring. When one sleeper is determined to be snoring Sleep Number’s website says “the base automatically raises the snorers’ head seven degrees to help temporarily relieve the symptoms of common, mild snoring in otherwise healthy adults.” The company says these auto-adjusting beds will be priced similarly to their other Sleep Number beds.
Gadgets to Help Stop the Snoring
Positional aids all follow the same concept. If you only snore on your back, they prevent you from turning over onto your back. We enlisted the aid of two couples who suffer from snoring: Jon and Stephanie, and Debbie and Joshua. (They asked us not use their last names). They tried the Slumber Bump: a Velcro belt attached to an inflatable pouch. While it did keep them from turning over, they added that it wasn’t terribly comfortable.
“If you have to roll over at night, it wakes you up,” Jon told us.
His wife Stephanie added: “Which is almost just as annoying as the snoring.”
The challenge with this device is that it’s meant to retrain you to sleep on your side, and that retraining can be uncomfortable. The Slumber Bump website says, “Often, the device only needs be worn for 30 to 60 days until side-sleeping feels natural. While any new sleep position can take a little time to adjust, we suggest experimenting with a different positions until you find your sweet spot.”
Next our snorers tried the SnoreRx mouthpiece. This is a moldable clear mouthpiece that locks the upper and lower teeth while allowing you to breathe through a space in the front of the mouthpiece. I tried it on and even on the smallest setting I found it a very substantial piece of equipment I would need to get used to. Our male snorers had better experiences.
“It’s kind of weird the first time that you put the mouth guard in,” Joshua told us, but “I thought the one that worked the best was the mouth guard piece. That seemed to improve the noise. It didn't alleviate it completely, but it did lessen the volume of the snore.”
SnoreRx told ABC News that the mouthpiece is adjustable and starts in the most compact position and can be increased after initial use. “If you notice the snoring is still occurring you would then advance the settings to a 4mm then to 5mm and greater as needed. The idea is to increase the settings until your snoring is reduced or completely eliminated. We recommend wearing each setting for a minimum of 3 to 5 nights prior to advancing. To give you an idea most patients wear the device at a setting of either 5mm or 6mm,” the company said in a statement.
Finally, our snorers used the My Snoring Solution Chinstrap to see if it alleviated the snoring. This is an elastic strap that goes all the way around the head and on to the chin. It is quite a look. The company did not respond to our requests for comment.
“It pushes the jaw back and it’s very uncomfortable,” Jon told us. His wife added that it didn’t stop his snoring.
“I feel like I’m in traction or something,” Joshua said, “Like I’ve been in a car accident.”
Joshua’s wife Debbie told us that all of the devices are “not a sexy look.”