We often have a joke and a laugh about snoring, often teasing the snorer about how loud they are or perhaps a time when they woke themselves up.
It usually gets laughed off as a minor annoyance for partners. But underneath the jibes and wisecracks, snoring is a significant problem for a very significant number of people. And you can bet they’re searching ‘how to make someone stop snoring’ in the dark of the night.
According to British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association (BSSAA), there are an estimated 15 million snorers in the UK alone - which, in turn, means that it affects an estimated 30 million people when you take into account the partners they sleep with or family members they’re loud enough to disturb. Head across the pond to the US, and 37 million people are reported to snore regularly - while a whopping 90 million people report snoring occasionally.
In this guide, we take a look at the science behind snoring, the impact it has on dads, and bring you some of the best snoring products on the market to help you out.
The science behind snoring
In its simplest terms, snoring is caused by a partial blockage of the upper airway - more scientifically known as the ‘upper respiratory tract’ - which includes the nasal cavity behind your nose, pharynx at the back of the mouth, and larynx in the throat. It occurs when the soft palate vibrates along with tissues inside the mouth, nose or throat.
There are a number of reasons why people snore.
Ageing - There’s a reason why 50-59 year olds account for the most snorers. As we get older, the muscle tone in the throat and tongue get weaker, leading to snoring (or worse snoring).
Lifestyle - Snoring can be entirely brought on by an unhealthy lifestyle. Being overweight can create excess throat tissue which narrows the airways, while alcohol and medications can relax the throat’s muscle tone. And we’re all aware of the impact of smoking.
Illness - Some people may find they only tend to snore when they’re stuffed up with a cough or a cold. Allergies and sinus infections can also have a big impact on snoring.
Physical abnormalities - There are a number of physical abnormalities that can cause snoring. A crooked septum (the bone and cartilage between your nostrils) or polyps (small growths) in the nose, for example.
Sleeping on your back - That’s right, you could be young, fit and healthy with no physical abnormalities and still snore thanks to your sleeping position. Sleeping on your back can cause the tongue to relax and collapse onto the back of the throat, narrowing the airways.
There are three types of snoring: nose-based snoring, mouth-based snoring, and tongue-based snoring. And you’ve probably already figured out that the difference between them is wear the blockage is and therefore, where the vibration occurs.
Nose-based snoring - This is most commonly associated with congestion caused by coughs and colds, smoking, a physical abnormality (crooked septum), and certain medications.
Mouth-based snoring - Mouth-based snoring is usually caused by blocked nasal passages, enlarged tonsils or weak palatal tissue. For some people, having their tonsils removed can cure their snoring.
Tongue-based snoring - This type of snoring occurs when the tongue relaxes onto the back of the throat. Therefore, it’s often associated with sleeping on your back. But it can also be caused by having too much neck fat, drinking too much alcohol, or using sleep medication.
The impact of snoring on dads
Snoring disproportionately affects men more than women. Looking at the BSSAA’s figure of 15 million snorers in the UK, it’s estimated that roughly 10.5 million of those are men. And a recent survey conducted by the organisation found that men snore louder than women too - although that’s not totally surprising. The obvious deduction, therefore, is that dads are more likely to snore than mums.
At its most basic level, snoring impacts quality of sleep. And what are parents often deprived of (especially in the early weeks and months)? That’s right, plenty of good quality sleep.
The positive benefits of good quality sleep have become increasingly well documented over the past decade, equally the damaging effects of a lack of good quality sleep.
According to Christine Won, medical director of Yale Centers for Sleep Medicine, “Getting regular sleep is important to our physical and mental health.” She adds: “Inadequate or poor sleep may make us more prone to obesity and cardiovascular disease. Sleep is also important for wellbeing, stress management and resilience.”
So, at a time in our lives when we are naturally getting less sleep as we normally would (and definitely should), snoring can make things even worse. While it can be difficult, we always want to have the most energy and be in the best mood possible for our children, but snoring can have a serious impact on that.
Then, of course, there’s the impact on the mums sleeping (or trying to) next to us, who may have been up throughout the night breastfeeding. While some snorers may only disturb their partner occasionally, for many partners of snorers, sleeping is a nightly battle. And so they also suffer the same consequences of snoring as the snorer themselves.
How to stop snoring
‘How to get my partner to stop snoring?’ is the big question for the partner of a snorer. Perhaps it’s the only question that matters if the snoring is that bad. Here are some of the most common things people try (or are told to try) in a bid to stop snoring.
Old wives’ tales
This space is loaded with old wives’ tales - some logical, some downright crazy. Let’s take a look at some of the most common.
Sew a tennis ball to the back of your pyjamas - There is some logic in this. The idea is that the tennis ball will be uncomfortable to lie on and encourage the snorer to sleep on their side. BUT, this is only useful if the snoring is caused by sleeping on the back.
Duct tape - Please don’t try this at home! If you’re a mouth-based snorer, this idea suggests that putting duct tape over your mouth will stop you breathing through your mouth and therefore stop the snoring. Nevermind the danger of physically having something stopping you breathing out of your mouth! On that basis, it’s probably the most flawed (and definitely most dangerous) idea out there.
Toothpaste and onion - Dads of a certain age, or those fascinated by the history of the royal family in the past 30 years may well already know this. But the late Diana Princess of Wales regularly lamented the snoring of the Prince of Wales (now King Charles, of course). She claimed he would rub toothpaste in his nostrils and eat a boiled onion in an attempt to reduce his snoring.
Learn to play a wind instrument - Arguably one of the more logical ones. The idea here is that learning to play a wind instrument (like a flute, trumpet, clarinet or trombone etc) strengthens the muscles in the throat and reduces the risk of the airways closing.
Dummy/pacifier - When you use a dummy or pacifier, it keeps the tongue in the ‘correct’ position and stops it collapsing on the back of the throat. A logical argument, but it only works if it’s a tongue-based snoring problem.
Gargling garlic - You know the dreaded ‘garlic breath’ the morning after a night at the local Italian restaurant? Multiply it by 100 for this one. There’s no apparent scientific reasoning behind this one, but another common old wives’ tale is to boil crushed garlic, wait for it to cool, and gargle.
Have you heard (or even tried) any other old wives’ tales? Let us know in the comments.
If your snoring has reached the point where you feel the need to visit a doctor (or your partner has booked the appointment for you), it’s highly likely that they will ask about your lifestyle first.
Depending on your physical health and lifestyle, they may well recommend a series of lifestyle changes before exploring other options. These might include weight loss, and the reduction of alcohol, smoking or certain medications.
You might try out some snoring products before considering a visit to the doctor. But that in itself can be a tricky task, largely because there are so many out there. They can range quite considerably in price, so here’s a quick rundown of the types of snoring products out there.
Nasal strips and Mouthpieces - Nasal strips are like thin plasters that sit across the bridge of the nose. They are designed to gently open the nasal passages and improve airflow, and are often targeted at relieving congestion from colds and coughs.
There are two types of mouthpieces (similar to a gumshield used in sports) - Mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and Tongue retaining devices (TRDs). MADs push the lower jaw forward to open up the airway, while TRDs grip to the tongue and stop it relaxing onto the throat.
Electronic/smart devices - There are now a whole host of electronic and smart devices made specifically to help reduce snoring. Most target snoring caused by sleeping position, working in a way that detects when you’re snoring - they are usually followed by a vibration to prompt you to move. There are also a whole range of noise cancelling ear plugs for the suffering partners.
Snore stoppers - There are a few different products here. Chin straps work on the logic that by stopping the mouth from opening too much, the snoring will stop too. But there is a danger that all it does is cause tongue-based snoring instead. Nose clips are another one - they look a bit like a septum ring, but with two balls sitting inside the nostrils to help keep the nasal passages open.
Pillows - A relatively new innovation in the market, anti-snore pillows are designed to specifically help alleviate snoring caused by sleeping position. Ranging massively in price (anything from £10 to over £100!), they help (or at least claim) to improve the sleeping position by supporting the head and neck to improve airflow.Mattresses - Snoring has become such a problem that there are now entire mattresses designed and marketed to help prevent or reduce snoring. Naturally, these are the most expensive anti-snoring products out there. Much like the pillows, anti-snoring mattresses are designed to improve your sleeping position to open the airways and improve airflow. But it’s a lot of money to spend if your snoring is actually caused by something else!
If a range of products and lifestyle changes fail to have the desired impact on your snoring problems, a doctor may decide to explore medical treatments and surgery for snoring. Or, they may opt for this first if the problem is obvious and significant.
Now, we don’t want to scare you, but medical treatments can range from medication to surgery, either to identify or remove the problem. For someone with enlarged tonsils, this could be easily identified by a doctor and they may opt straight for a removal.
The 9 best anti-snoring products
“I’m quite a large bloke - my friends and family always tell me I have an abnormally large head - the mouth guard simply wasn’t big enough and kept dislodging from my teeth and falling into my mouth.”
The Difiney Anti-Snoring Mouth Guard has helped thousands of people to stop snoring by tackling sleep apnoea. Its V-Flow design allows full airflow by pushing the lower jaw forward, while it can be personalised to your own bite with a super easy boil and bite function.
Easy boil and bite custom impression
Moulds to your teeth
Adjustable up to 4mm
V-Flow design allows full airflow
“Using the Breathe Right nasal strips has made a huge difference for me when it comes to getting a good night's sleep. Whenever I am congested, I have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. But the strips have helped me to breathe more easily through my nose and sleep much more soundly."
An Amazon best seller, Breathe Right’s nasal strips are used by thousands to reduce congestion, improve airflow and help to reduce snoring. The two flexible “spring-like” sit across the bridge of the nose, stretching the nasal passages to improve airflow by up to 31%. Breathe Right has different ranges, allowing you to get the right size, colour and strength to suit you.
Size, strength and colour range
“It’s definitely worth a try, and glad I did as it reduced my snoring a lot, but I need something else too for the sleep apnoea.”
This anti-snoring mouthpiece from QQCherry is designed to keep the mouth closed during sleep by bringing the lower part of the jaw forward to prevent snoring. Unlike Difiney’s version, it is designed to keep the mouth fully closed and encourage nasal breathing. It is also customisable with a simple boil and bite mould system.
Gear connection technology
Contours to your mouth
“I was looking for a neck pillow that could help stretch my neck and help with my snoring. Wow. I am amazed that it not only had my snoring decreased but my shoulder pain is gone as well.”
Although the DONAMA Cervical Pillow isn’t a specifically-designed anti-snoring pillow, many snorers have turned to it with success. It’s designed to reduce neck and shoulder pain during sleep with various ergonomic areas to support the head, neck and shoulders. As a result of keeping the head in a comfortable, more natural position, the airways are kept open and snoring reduces. The pillow is designed to allow people to sleep in whichever way they feel most comfortable, including on their front with slots for the arms.
Ergonomic design for neck, ARC Cervical, arm and shoulder support
“These are amazing. They block out so much noise allowing a good night's sleep and are so soft they don't hurt your ears. Would definitely recommend these and I have worn ear plugs for the last 15 years”
Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs are ideal for snorers (if your snoring wakes you up) and snorers’ partners. The Comfy Cush Comfort Foam soaks up the sound of snoring with a Noise Reduction Rating of 33 decibels - meaning they are able to reduce the noise levels of something by up to 33 decibels.
Comfy Cush Comfort Foam
Noise Reduction Rating 33 decibels
Aimed at allergy and congestion-related snorers, the Naväge Nose Cleaner is an irrigation system device designed to clear out the congestants in your nasal passage. Using an electric motor, it pumps a saline solution into one nostril and flushes everything out of the other nostril. This deluxe bundle comes with the nose cleaner itself, 20 Naväge SaltPods, a three-tier countertop caddy, standard nose pillow, a travel bag and batteries.
Saline solution clean
“I was snoring so badly that my wife could not sleep with me. She has been using the guest room for the last couple of months. I got this pillow and my snoring immediately all but stopped completely.”
The Kӧlbs Bed Wedge Pillow tackles snoring by elevating the head, neck and shoulders to a raised position during sleep. Coming in a range of sizes and heights, the medical grade foam wedge provides plenty of support, while the 1.5” memory foam layer provides comfort.
Elevated sleeping position
1.5” plush memory foam
High density medical grade foam wedge
“I was so skeptical, how can a tiny piece of plastic help with snoring? I honestly have no clue but my fiance and I are ecstatic! It helps so much. I would snore so loud I would wake myself up sometimes... not anymore!”
Also known as a ‘snore stopper’, these reusable nose clips from Konsxsly sit inside the nostrils to keep the nasal passages open and reduce snoring. Keeping the nasal passage clear also helps to prevent mouth and nose snoring. Made from Bpa free silicone, the ends of the clips have small, mild magnets designed to keep the clip in place inside the nose.
Easy clean and reusable
- One-size fits all
- Breathable Neoprene mesh
- Not itchy solution
Why do people snore?
Snoring occurs when there’s a partial blockage in your upper airways. The blockage causes the soft palate to vibrate with the tissue in your mouth, nose, or mouth, resulting in snoring.
There are a range of reasons why people snore from age (people aged 50-59 tend to be the biggest snorers) and lifestyle, to a physical abnormality and even just your sleeping position.
What stops snoring?
Regardless of why you snore, the best way to stop snoring is to reduce blockages in the airways and keep air flowing well. The most effective method of doing this differs from person to person - that’s why some people might swear by a certain product that you might find is absolutely useless.
What’s the best sleeping position for snoring?
Some snorers do so purely because of their sleeping position. Sleeping on your back can cause the muscles in your mouth and throat to relax, resulting in your tongue partially blocking the airways. Therefore, it’s best to sleep on your side.
What do snoring nasal strips do?
Nasal strips gently stretch the nasal passages to keep them open and ensure adequate airflow and reduce snoring. Most nasal strips just rely on that action, but some products will release menthol fragrances for that extra bit of support.
What are the best earplugs for snoring?
Earplugs won’t help to reduce your snoring, but they can help to stop you (and your partner) hearing it. There are plenty of options on the market, but we recommend Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs. They’re comfortable to use and reduce noise by up to 33 decibels. They’re super affordable at $8.99 (£7.30) for a pack of 50, and one of the highest rated snoring products on Amazon with over 30,000 five star reviews.
Do essential oils work for snoring?
Although there is no scientific evidence supporting the idea that essential oils help to reduce snoring, there is logic to the idea, and many people swear by them. Given that many essential oils are known to reduce congestion and clear the airways, it’s understandable to believe they would do this at night and reduce snoring.