Of all the anti-snoring devices available, chin straps are one of the easiest to use. The simplest form of an anti-snoring chin strap consists of a cup made of fabric to provide support to the chin, and straps that go up the sides of the face and around the top of the head. One such popular chin strap (as seen in this picture) is My Snoring Solution.
Before you buy a chin strap, it is important you understand how it works, because this will help you decide if it is the right device to help you stop snoring.
Sleep, Chin Position and Snoring
Have you ever noticed what happens between the time you lie down in bed and actually fall asleep? Generally, the cycle of events that unfold is something like:
- You are alert and still awake.
- Your brain begins to slow down, and you may experience some peculiar and vivid sensations such as a sudden jerk, or a feeling that someone is calling out your name.
- You slip into a state of drowsiness or light sleep which is actually the transition from being alert to falling asleep.
- You go into deeper sleep, your heart slows down and body temperature dips.
- You go into Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep where the brain becomes more active than during the previous stages, but the muscles become deeply relaxed.
During the stage when the muscles go into deep relaxation, they become completely flaccid and incapable of movement. This applies to the muscles in the jaw, too, and so the chin tends to drop down, leaving the mouth hanging open when a person goes into deep sleep.
In addition to this, the tongue and other tissues in the throat also tend to fall back, blocking the airways and causing the typical snoring sound to emerge from the mouth.
How Chin Straps Work
When you wear a chin strap before sleeping, it acts like a sling that serves to hold your jaw firmly in place. Thanks to this, the mouth stays closed and this forward position of the jaw reduces the risk of the tongue and throat tissues falling back to block the airways. The end result – there is no snoring.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are advised to use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, your doctor may ask you to also use a chin strap. CPAP therapy forces air into your throat through a mask and the pressure of the air flowing in helps to keep the airways open.
If you are the type who sleeps with the mouth open, this can prove counterproductive – the air entering your throat through the mask escapes out of the mouth and does not perform the intended function of keeping the airways open. This can actually worsen the sleep apnea and therefore, doctors advise sleep apnea patients who sleep with the mouth open to use a chin strap in combination with CPAP therapy.
How Effective are Anti-Snoring Chin Straps?
Chin straps are one of the simplest anti-snoring devices you can find; however, this does not necessarily mean they are the most effective. Actually, rather than asking if anti-snoring chin straps are effective, a better question to ask is if they are right for you.
This question has an easy answer – considering the way in which the chin strap works, it proves effective for people who snore through the mouth.
You also have to consider how you sleep before deciding to use an anti-snoring chin strap. The strap is most effective if it stays in position throughout the night. If you tend to toss and turn in your sleep, how likely is it that the strap will stay in place? Think of this before you choose this device and find out about the different designs on offer.
There are some types of anti-snoring chin straps (such as My Snoring Solution) that have a sling-like design and have longer and wider straps – these are more likely to stay in place without sliding off as compared to the devices with compact straps.
Another point to consider is the cause of your snoring. If your snoring is because of nasal congestion or due to sleep apnea, it will not respond to chin straps; in fact, it could be downright dangerous to be using such a strap. Here’s why …
When to Avoid Chin Straps
If your nose is blocked due to an allergic condition or because of an infection such as sinusitis, you unconsciously breathe in through the mouth to compensate for the inability to breathe in through the nose. This is the body’s way of ensuring there is enough oxygen entering your lungs.
If you wear a chin strap in such conditions, your mouth is forced shut and this means you do not receive the required amount of oxygen during sleep and this can result in serious complications for your health.
Another important aspect to consider – many people have undiagnosed sleep apnea; what you think of as snoring may actually be sleep apnea. In such circumstances, if you wear an anti-snoring chin strap, you are actually contributing to the low oxygen levels caused by the sleep apnea and this can prove dangerous.
So, if you want my final verdict on anti-snoring chin straps, here it is: Ask your partner if you sleep with your mouth open. If it sounds like the snoring comes from your mouth, then try a chin strap. If you snore with your mouth closed, or through your nostrils, it won’t work.
When you shop, find a sling-like version, try it on and see if it is a good fit before buying – remember, you have to sleep with it on the entire night, night after night. Ask your partner to observe if the snoring subsides by using the anti-snoring chin strap. If it does, that’s great!
However, if it doesn’t, or if your partner says the snoring has been replaced by a choking or gasping sound, please visit a doctor at the earliest to find out if you have a more serious sleeping condition.
What About Surgery?
Why bother with appliances (such as chin straps) at all? Isn’t surgery the better option? After all, surgery is in-and-out and you’re done…and then all your problems are solved. Right?
Sometimes. If, for example, throat or mouth polyps/overgrowth or chronically inflamed tonsils are the cause of your snoring issues, then surgical removal can relieve these problems in one step, often on an outpatient basis depending upon your general health, your age and the extent of the surgery or surgeries.
But only a percentage of snorers have these issues at all, and surgery isn’t a guarantee for 100% of diagnosed overgrowth/polyp sufferers. In addition, depending upon your health and the specific surgery, there may be a long recovery time, and of course, complications can occur with any surgery, making surgical solutions something to consider very carefully.
Talk to your doctor about whether or not surgery is right for you. If you do not present with overgrowths or similar issues, look for non-invasive ways to address your snoring instead.
Which brings us to…
Places to find chin straps
You usually won’t find a place in your local mall that sells chin straps designed to stop snoring. It’s best to ask your doctor, or research online.
I myself don’t snore due to my mouth being open (I use a mouthpiece instead). However, a good friend who does snore through his mouth uses the My Snoring Solution chinstrap. He found that it was the only one that wouldn’t come off during the night, because of the straps around the top of the head and behind the ears. So that’s definitely one product I would check out.
Taking Care of Your Chin Strap
You’ll be wearing your chin strap nightly, so you’ll want to take care of it EXACTLY per the manufacturer’s instructions. In order to avoid invalidating the product warranty before you’ve had sufficient time to try it out, read ALL care instructions and do not alter your chin strap in any way. Follow cleaning instructions to the letter as well.
By purchasing a high-quality chin strap, you should get years of effective use and a better night’s sleep – with better, more awake, more alert days ahead.