Do mouth tape and nasal strips really work to stop snoring? We ask doctors (2023)



From mouth tape to chin straps, self repositioning pillow inserts, mouth exercises and sleeping on your side, what's worth your time, effort and money? CNA Lifestyle finds out from the doctors.

Do mouth tape and nasal strips really work to stop snoring? We ask doctors (1)

Khoo Bee Khim

It's no fun sleeping next to a heavy snorer.The sounds of noisy bedfellows have been likened to hoarse whistling, sniffing and, by those with dramatic flair, the bellows of a beast in deep sleep.

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And it's not an unusual situation.Dr. Serene Wong, a consultant who specializes in sleep medicine at Alexandra Hospital, said about 60 percent of patients at the sleep clinic have snoring problems.

“As we move into deeper stages of sleep, our muscle tone becomes more relaxed, which contributes to an increasingly narrow upper airway and is believed to lead to snoring,” says Dr Wong, who also works in the Respiratory & Critical Department Care of the National University Hospital. Medicine. "Snoring is caused when the air passing through the upper airways (including the tongue and throat) causes the tissues to vibrate."

At Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, about 30 percent of patients in the ear, nose and throat (ENT) clinic snore, said Dr. Ng Chew Lip, a consultant and clinical director of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. "There is a higher prevalence in men," he said, adding that about half of those with allergic nasal or sinus problems have snoring symptoms.

Do mouth tape and nasal strips really work to stop snoring? We ask doctors (3)

If you don't have a bed partner to alert you to your snoring, there are other signs you can watch for, Dr. Ng said. These includeexcessive daytime sleepiness (EDS); a dry throat from mouth breathing; and waking up abruptly at night with a feeling of shortness of breath, which can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). ED, according toDr. Ng's study from 2013, was found to occur in more than 20 percent of its 1,003 participants in Singapore.


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The degree of muscle tone relaxation in the same person can vary at night, depending on the level of fatigue, sleep hygiene and whether the person is taking sedative medications or alcohol, Dr. Ng said. This means that the strength of your snoring can vary from night to night.

He added: “Snorers may not snore every night and may not snore through the night. Snoring can occur during all stages of sleep, but usually occurs during the deeper stages of sleep, i.e. after 30 minutes to an hour of sleep when muscle relaxation occurs.”

"The sound quality of snoring can be influenced by the person's craniofacial and neck anatomy," said Dr. Ng. "The unique structural anatomy results in a certain pitch, amplitude, timbre and resonance of snoring, just as an opera singer's unique voice is contributed by his anatomical features!"

Do mouth tape and nasal strips really work to stop snoring? We ask doctors (7)

But if you "make choking noises, wake up gasping, or even stop breathing" during your sleep, you may have OSA, which happens when the upper airway is "severely narrowed or completely blocked," resulting in a "decrease of the airways". in oxygen levels to the brain and the rest of the body,” said Dr. Wong.

And while the volume, length and frequency of the snoring episode may indicate OSA, those metrics don't determine its severity, Dr. Wong said. “In other words, patients with severe OSA may not exhibit loud snoring; conversely, patients with mild OSA may snore loudly," she said. It's best to get yourself medically examined.


If you've been scrolling through TikTok or Instagram, you may have come across devices, methods, or exercises that claim to stop snoring. And since you're not quite ready to see a doctor, you might even be tempted to try them. But how effective are they and should you try them? We ask the experts:


It's as simple as sticking a piece of porous tape over your lips to keep your mouth from opening during sleep. This method supposedly prevents you from breathing through your mouth and prevents air from vibrating the tissues and relaxed muscles in your upper airway.

Do mouth tape and nasal strips really work to stop snoring? We ask doctors (8)

But both Dr. Ngo as Dr. Wong do not recommend this method of suppressing snoring. "We breathe through the nose and mouth," said Dr. Ng. "Closing one orifice does not improve airflow and may instead reduce airflow and increase breathing effort."

In addition, mouth taping is "based on the assumption that one has an open nasal cavity," said Dr. Ng. But "a lot of people have nasal congestion, so this doesn't work in such patients." "Third, breathing through the mouth is normal," he said.


The exercises may feel silly to perform (for example, sticking your tongue out as far as possible or sucking your tongue against the palate), but they all have one common goal: to improve the muscle tone of your mouth and throat. muscles to reduce their collapse during sleep, said Dr. Ng. Think of them as workouts for your mouth.

"Mouth exercises are also known as orofacial myofunctional therapy (MT) and can help reduce the severity of snoring and OSA," Dr. Wong said, adding that for OSA patients, the exercises are usually used alongside other treatments.

There's no harm in trying the exercises, Dr. Ng said, because they're "non-invasive, low-risk, no-cost and easy to perform."

However, as with all strengthening exercises, you have to put in the time and effort to see results; stopping the exercises can also reverse the effects.

And they are not for everyone either. For example, if you have large tonsils and a stuffy nose, mouth exercises may not help you as much as removing the obstructive tonsils and treating the nasal obstruction, Dr. Ng said.

"It is also unclear whether the therapeutic effects of MT persist over the long term," said Dr. Wong.


Blame it on gravity, but sleeping on your back can indeed make snoring worse, as Dr Wong explained: "The tongue is more likely to fall back, constricting the upper airway". Dr. Ng added that "numerous publications have demonstrated the efficacy of this remedy."


Do mouth tape and nasal strips really work to stop snoring? We ask doctors (9)

Position therapy, as it is known, is not a recent method of reducing snoring. “During the American Revolutionary War and later during World War I, soldiers were advised to wear their backpacks to sleep to reduce snoring and avoid revealing their positions to the enemy,” Dr. Ng said.

You don't have to carry your backpack to bed if you'd like to try this method. Tie a tennis ball to your T-shirt or put a pillow behind your back to keep your body from rolling onto your back while sleeping. "Many may not find it comfortable, but it is effective in some patients who snore worse in the supine position," said Dr. Ng. "However, long-term compliance is a problem."


It looks like a stiff piece of sticker that you stick on your nose to supposedly "pull open" narrow or collapsing internal nasal valves that are causing the obstruction and snoring.While the strip may help with better breathing, Dr Wong said it "has not been shown to help with snoring, nor to treat OSA".

Do mouth tape and nasal strips really work to stop snoring? We ask doctors (10)

said Dr. Ng: "Nasal strips work to widen the nasal airway in patients with long tent noses, thin skin and soft nasal cartilage, i.e. white noses.

"In Asians, the internal nasal valves are less of a problem, because Asian noses are shorter and tent-shaped. So the strips don't work for everyone."


The device comes with a microphone and pillow insert that inflates when the sound of snoring is picked up by the microphone. Inflating or deflating the insert adjusts your head and neck positions to stop snoring. It's a form of positional therapy, said Dr. Ng, because its mechanism of action is to rotate the neck forward and back to reduce snoring.

Do mouth tape and nasal strips really work to stop snoring? We ask doctors (11)

However, Doctor Wong is concerned. "The inserts that shift the neck position can result in the neck not being supported enough or pushing the neck too far forward," she said. "In addition to sleeping position, there are other factors that contribute to snoring, such as obesity and facial structures, that are unlikely to be overcome by such devices."


The dentist, ENT or sleep specialist can and will adapt oral appliances that look like mouth guards for snorers, Dr. Ng said. Some of these devices work by sliding your jaw forward, while others hold the tongue forward to keep it from dropping back, he said. But for them to work, they need to be personalized for comfort and effectiveness, he said.

Do mouth tape and nasal strips really work to stop snoring? We ask doctors (12)

And while you can find oral devices online, "such over-the-counter, off-the-shelf devices are not recommended," Dr. Wong said. Instead, these generic ones can act more like mouth guards to protect you from themteeth grinding or bruxism during sleepinstead of stopping snoring, Dr. Ng.


The principle is very similar to mouth taping. But instead of tape, a piece of neoprene wraps around your face to keep your jaw closed while you sleep.

Do mouth tape and nasal strips really work to stop snoring? We ask doctors (13)

Another purpose of the chinstrap, Dr. Ng suggested, is that it pulls the jaw forward in the hope of opening the airway. "Those with an overbite and small jaws are more prone to snoring because the tongue is pushed back and the oropharynx is filled more." However, custom oral appliances that move the jaw forward are more recommended for these patients, he said.

In addition, even if the belt can provoke some form of jaw manipulation, it may not be helpful if the action narrows the airway even more, Dr. Ng said.

Bron: CNA/bk

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