Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
Anti snore pillows seem ideal: an easy and comfy way to return peace and quiet to your bedroom…
Do they really stop you snoring?
Thinking of buying an anti snore pillow? Read this independent (no advertisements or affiliate links!) sleep-industry expert review first.
How anti snore pillows claim to work
What the clinical evidence tells us
What the experts say
Then read our free, definitive step-by-step how to stop snoring Guide.
This comprehensive Guide walks you through self-help, signposting, screening, professional assessment and diagnosis, the three categories of prescription treatment, follow-up and rounds off with a substantial FAQ.
Various anti snore pillows are available, yet they share design similarities:
They’re either ‘door-wedge’ shaped or double-curved with the hollow being where you place your head.
In this independent review, I look past the marketing ‘hype’ and examine the science (if there is any) behind their claims:
Encouraging you to sleep on your side
Encouraging better breathing by supporting your head and neck
Encouraging better body alignment (whatever that is)
Why? Why is sleeping on your side an aim? And how does that help stop snoring?
Think First Aid.
Are you familiar with the ‘Recovery Position’? Perhaps you should be!
This is when the unconscious individual is moved by a first-aider off their back into a semi-prone position known as the ‘Recovery Position’ to help them breathe.
We’ll come back to how this relates to snoring and anti snore pillows, later in this post (it’s called positional therapy).
Now check out the video below about the Recovery Position by the NHS. It’s all about ensuring you can breathe when unconscious (hint):
Here’s an authentic and less than favourable review of an anti snore pillow in the Huffington Post ↗
What about anti-snoring devices. Which is best? Read my comparison of custom-made vs. Over-the-Counter mandibular advancement devices.
Lately, I’ve seen lots of search activity for ‘CBD oil’ that supposedly helps with insomnia (the evidence is a little thin). Pillows are being sold with this oil somehow incorporated.
My advice: look for the clinical evidence.
And then there are ‘ergonomic’ pillows:
‘Ergonomic’ may be defined as: relating to or designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment.
Make of that what you will!
NHS video: How to put someone into the recovery position
According to the NHS ↗, the most common cause of neck pain is when your neck has become locked in an awkward position while sleeping.
But what’s neck pain got to do with snoring?
Allow me to explain:
If your pillow inadequately supports your neck while you sleep, and your head is on your shoulder. Then the airway in your twisted neck may become restricted.
And you guessed it:
But unless your pillow is truly terrible and you routinely wake-up with neck pain from a strange sleeping position;
I would not expect it to stop you snoring
But what do the experts say?
Clinical experts research products or theories to establish if it does or doesn’t work. You can think of it as proof or as close as possible to ‘fact’.
There is good evidence that positional therapy i.e. training the individual NOT to sleep on their back (No. 1 in this review) can help stop snoring1.
Encouraging better ‘body alignment’ (as in sleeping with your head and body straight and your neck not bent) would on the face of it seem reasonable.
Perhaps if you were to sleep with your neck at an acute angle (as I mentioned in my review of claim No. 2) then yes the airway in your throat would be restricted and it could make you snore.
However, marketing a pillow with a supposed anti snore feature being improved ‘body alignment’, is I think reaching a little.
So if positional therapy has some validity as a way to stop snoring, the real question is:
Are anti snore pillows the most effective positional therapy device?
And to answer that I will:
Unless your pillow is truly terrible, I would not expect a new one to stop you snoring.
Positional therapy for snoring is ‘as old as the hills‘. Think tennis ball in the breast pocket of a t-shirt worn back to front.
Position dependent snoring1 is the technical name for when snoring either stops or lessens in different (not on your back) sleep positions.
Fortunately things have moved on some from tennis balls and anti snore pillows.
I’m not going to review the various high tech ways or my experience of them here.
Suffice to say positional therapy may be useful IN ADDITION to:
To get either of these you’ll need to know what you’re trying to ‘fix’. As in not self-diagnose yourself.
When I rolled over and tried to sleep prone (on my front) my wife reported that the part of the pillow designed to support my neck when I slept on my side, pushed against my throat.
It appeared to be collapsing my airway!
She said I was making some very strange noises…
However, I continue to use an orthopaedic neck support pillow (remarkably similar shape!) and wouldn’t used anything else. I’ve learnt not to sleep quite so flat on my face!
Chinstraps for snoring are all over the internet.
Are they any good?
Are they safe and effective?
What if you have sleep apnoea and use CPAP?
From a financial perspective, its hard to beat the tennis ball in the breast pocket of the t-shirt, worn back-to-front.
But with anti snore pillows on the market from as low as 5 GBP they may well be worth a punt.
However, you need to be aware of these limitations:
Anti snore pillow prices online and in the shops range from as little as 5 GBP to 25 GBP.
As a first-line and relatively harmless way to stop snoring they probably make financial sense.
However (and it’s a big HOWEVER) if they don’t stop the snoring problem then you need to seek the advice of a professional.Pretty much everything is going to cost more than a tennis ball or a stop snoring pillow, but if you’re serious about no longer snoring, then consult a professional. There are considerable drawbacks to self-diagnosis.
Trying to ‘cure the snore’ before you know why you snore – is like driving a car before you’ve passed your test.
You might think you can drive – but you could be on the wrong side of the road!
Treatment (the ‘cure‘ for the snore) follows diagnosis
i.e. find out if your snoring is more than just anti-social noise, before trying to ‘cure’ it – for this you need to see a sleep-trained pharmacist or your GP.
If anti snore pillows aren’t helping then you might wonder what else is available. Enter anti snoring devices.
Anti-snoring devices are commonly oral appliances you wear in your mouth at night.
They work by holding your lower jaw in a more forward position. This keeps your tongue away from the back of your throat so you don’t snore.
Example of an anti-snoring device. Image courtesy of SomnoMed and used with permission.
We’re a long way from an anti snore pillow…
Surgery for snoring is divided into whether hard and soft tissue is involved.
Soft tissue surgery is intended to improve the effect of an anti-snoring device or PAP therapy (more about what PAP is in a moment).
Whereas hard tissue surgery (that will change the way you look) is intended to eliminate the need for any other treatment.
There are pillows especially designed for PAP users. Keep reading:
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy. Today, it is referred to as just PAP.
PAP works by providing low pressure air (through a mask worn over your nose and sometimes both your nose and mouth) to the airway in your throat. This pneumatically holds open your airway.
While an arduous therapy, it is highly effective if snoring is actually a symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
They can also offer lifestyle advice to address the underlying reasons WHY you snore.
When ear plugs, self-help and pillows aren’t cutting it – it’s time to get serious.
A sleep-trained pharmacist can direct you to the most appropriate expert to help you stop snoring.
They will screen you for sleep apnoea and decide if you need further investigation i.e. a sleep study.
If you don’t need a sleep study they can direct you to a sleep-trained dentist for a custom-made, anti-snoring device.
Which is the first way to stop snoring and also treat mild to moderate OSA3, 4.
You need to be comfortable to sleep well, so find a pillow that helps you sleep comfortably on your side and supports your neck.
Consider orthopaedic pillows as well as the big headline-grabbing brands.
My final verdict is that anti-snore pillows are a relatively low-cost way to try to stop snoring.
But don’t get your hopes up…
But when snoring is a problem consult a professional:
Sleep-trained pharmacists work with your GP. They are the most accessible and underutilised healthcare professionals.
Let me know what you think by entering a comment below.
I read every one.
Anti-Snoring Device – generally considered a product worn in your mouth to stop you snoring.
Custom-made – a bespoke device made specifically for you by a registered dental technician, working to prescription, using CE marked materials. In Europe working to the Medical Devices Directive administered in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA).
OSA Obstructive Sleep Apnoea – (also spelt apnea) When an individual is unable to sleep and breathe at the same time. Visually, a repetitive pattern of breathing interruptions (apnoeas) occurring while the individual sleeps, due to a physical obstruction in the airway.
OTC – Over-the-Counter product sold over the pharmacy counter or on-line without prescription, medical or dental assessment and without a review of medical/dental history.
Signposting – Is the medical term for directing people to the most appropriate professional to help them based upon their answers to some high-level questions.
Sleep-trained Dentist – A dentist that has undertaken special interest training in sleep. As such they are able to obtain professional indemnity insurance.
Sleep-trained Pharmacist – A pharmacist that has undertaken special interest training in sleep-related breathing disorders (snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea).
Created by Adrian Zacher