There is no shortage of ‘cures’, for snoring (over 300 anti-snoring devices have been registered at the USA patent office alone), but in many cases self-help is effective.

  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Avoid alcohol, tranquillizers and sleeping pills within 4 hours of bedtime.
  • You could try a herbal remedy from a health shop or pharmacy but, according to Health Which?, there is little evidence that they are effective despite the claims on the packaging. There are gargles or throat sprays that you use at bedtime, which contain peppermint, thyme, pine and eucalyptus oils. They may help by leaving a thin friction-reducing layer on the palate and uvula. They are also the most pleasant of the anti-snoring remedies for your sleeping partner.
  • Put a walnut, cork or even a tennis ball into a sock and pin it to the back of your pyjamas (use a safe nappy pin). This will encourage you to sleep sideways rather than on your back.
  • Tilt the head of your bed up 10 cm (4 inches) by putting bricks under the legs to lessen the effect of gravity on the throat muscles. Do not use a thick, hard pillow; this will kink your neck and make the problem worse.
  • Nostril dilators encourage nasal breathing and help to prevent mouth breathing. There are various types of nasal dilator. Some are inserted into the nostrils and some are self-adhesive strips that you apply to the outside of the nose to widen the nostrils. You can buy them from pharmacies.
  • You may be snoring mainly because you sleep with your mouth open. To test this, open your mouth and make a snoring noise. Now try again with your mouth closed. If you snore only with your mouth open, a device to keep your mouth closed may help.

Plastic mouth devices (technically called mandibular advancement splints, because the mandible is the bone of the lower jaw) are available to hold the jaw slightly forward while you sleep; when the jaw is in this forward position the airway opens wider. There are various different types, and some can be moulded to fit by placing them in hot water. These devices may be difficult to get used to but are said to help 70% of snorers. They are, however, inferior to the type properly fitted by dentists.


First published on:
Reviewed and edited by: Dr Anna Cantlay
Last updated: October 2020

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