Do Chin Straps Work for Snoring and Sleep Apnea?
As a snoring solution, chinstraps were dismissed as gimmicky when they were first marketed. However now they’re a common answer to an irritating problem, often giving a peaceful night’s sleep for both bed partners.
But they don’t work for everyone.
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What causes snoring and sleep apnea?
You probably know that snoring is caused by either the vibration of floppy, bulky tissue at the back of the mouth and throat or by a nasal problem.
The tissue at the back of the mouth and throat is often the tongue, uvula (the little piece of skin that hangs at the back of the throat), soft palate and tonsils. Any one of these, or a combination of them, can vibrate as you breathe during sleep and this creates the noise, especially if you lie on your back. When you’re awake, your upright position and waking muscle tone keeps them in the right place.
In sleep apnea this soft tissue actually blocks the airway and causes you to stop breathing. This can have serious health consequences.
In the nose, the septum – the centre section of the nose – may be crooked. This is called a deviated septum.
Or you may have enlarged turbinates which cause the nose to feel stuffy all the time. Turnbinates are like little ‘shelves’ in the nasal passages and warm skin lies over them so that as air enters the nose, it is warmed before it goes into the lungs.
You may also have a problem with stuffiness in the nose if you have allergies because this causes the soft tissues to enlarge. if the nose is congested for any reason the body compensates by letting the mouth open to get its air into the lungs.
How does a chin strap help snoring?
The chin strap fits tightly over the head and under the jaw. The simple idea is that it keeps the mouth closed and the jaw in the right position to prevent the soft tissues vibrating.
So, while they’re not very sexy as bedtime apparel goes, they probably are sexier than snoring! There’s a picture of an example here.
They may not always eliminate snoring in mouth-breathers but users and their bed partners often report that the snoring is greatly reduced.
Chin straps and sleep apnea.
If you’re already using CPAP for sleep apnea a chin strap will keep the jaw closed so that your mouth is more comfortable. Some CPAP users say they get a very dry mouth. For more information on combating any CPAP problems see http://sleepbetterlivebetter.net/.
Otherwise, as chin straps are inexpensive, easy to use, don’t need a prescription and will provide an instant fix if they work for you, there is little to lose by trying one. But many sleep apnea sufferers say that they’re not very effective for the problem.
It would also be wise to speak to your specialist to get a diagnosis of sleep apneaif you’re in doubt, as it can lead to health problems.
Other points about chin straps.
- They’re usually stretchy and made of neoprene which is the stuff divers’ wet suits are made from.
- They’re easy to clean by hand washing.
- They’re compact.
- DON’T use chin straps if your snoring problem originates in the nose or if you have a cold, as you’ll find breathing difficult when the mouth is held closed.
- The first few nights can be a bit difficult as you get used to the chin strap, but many users report getting comfortable with the device quite quickly.
- An alternative to the chin strap is the anti snoring mouthpiecewhich may help.
- If you have any doubts about using a chin strap then talk to your specialist.
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