We tested anti-snoring devices on our loudest friends. Here’s what worked

best anti snoring devices illustration getty
kbeis/Getty Images

I have thankfully never been much of a snorer, though there was a brief period when my wife was so heavily pregnant she began to do convincing impressions of a demon-possessed grizzly bear. Like many other snoring sufferers, I hit the couch to get some precious shut eye so I could function the next day. Luckily for me, her snoring evaporated as soon our daughter was born, but many sufferers are not so fortunate.

Snoring is often laughed off as a mild irritation, usually by snorers, but for long-suffering partners it can be a serious nightmare. There’s a reason that sleep deprivation has long been used as a form of torture. As sleepless nights pile up, sufferers become irritable, resentful, and find it harder to concentrate. Prolonged periods of sleep deprivation can lead to lapses in judgment, disordered thought, and incoherent speech.

For many people, an unresolved snoring issue can spark the abandonment of the marital bed and if things get really bad it can even contribute to divorce. Around 90 million American adults snore, 37 million of them on a regular basis, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Little wonder then that a new segment of tech has taken off promising to bring sufferers sweet relief from the horrors of snoring.

The story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. After a recent night at a friend’s house, let’s call them Harry and Linda, I got a true taste of how bad snoring can get. Woken by what I assumed was a faulty boiler, I gradually began to wonder if there was construction in the area, before settling on the idea that Harry had decided to fire up a chainsaw and cut through the bedroom wall as some kind of macabre drunken prank.

Enquiring about the strange noise at the breakfast table the next morning I learned that Harry was a regular snorer and Linda was approaching the end of her tether. She had already taken to sleeping in the spare room after repeated kicking, shouting, and assault with a pillow had led only to arguments and fleeting respite. If I can get to sleep before he does it’s usually fine, she confided, but Harry’s snoring was clearly taking a toll on the marriage. Who better to serve as guinea pigs for an anti-snoring tech test?

Snoring denial

It’s pretty common for snorers to downplay their snoring or even deny it altogether, but as sleep tech has taken off, we have more data than ever before. The Sleep Cycle App boasts 36 million users and its research team has found that, on average, Americans retire at 11:39 p.m. and wake at 7:09 a.m. spending an average of 7 hours and 18 minutes in bed each night, 23.95 minutes of which is spent snoring.

best anti snoring devices snorelab iphone lifestyle

Like many snorers, Harry was skeptical about the severity of his snoring. We decided to establish a baseline with a smartphone app called SnoreLab, which is available for Android or iOS. It’s very easy to use – you install it and leave it running next to your bed and if it detects snoring it will record an audio clip and rate the snoring on a visual scale that goes from Quiet, Light and Loud, all the way up to Epic.

Harry scored an epic on his first night and sat there incredulous as Linda played back the audio file and the room filled with the sound of his snoring. Over a week of monitoring, it became clear he had a regular snoring problem and his attitude shifted. He was ready to try anything.

But before attempting to beat snoring, it’s important to understand why it’s happening in the first place.

Why do people snore?

“The main cause of snoring is a restricted airway,” Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep specialist also known as “The Sleep Doctor,” told Digital Trends. “The physics are quite simple.”

He uses the analogy of a garden hose with your thumb over the end which causes the water to squirt out faster.

“This is the same principle behind snoring,” he said. “As a person’s airway becomes smaller, air moves faster, which causes tissue in the throat to vibrate which leads to a snore.”

“Without treatment, sleep apnea increases risks for other serious medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.”

Being overweight is the number one reason for snoring, which explains why it’s common during pregnancy. Dr. Breus also cites alcohol, smoking, nasal conditions, and a family history of snoring as important risk factors. In some cases, snoring is a symptom of another sleep disorder: obstructive sleep apnea.

“Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea,” Dr. Breus said. But for those who do, it’s “a serious sleep disorder that requires medical treatment.”

Sleep apnea snoring is usually accompanied by pauses in noise followed by loud gasps, choking or snorting sounds. Thankfully, this doesn’t fit Harry’s snoring pattern, but partners who recognize this description should push the snorer to visit a medical professional.

“Without treatment, sleep apnea increases risks for other serious medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Breus said.

Having determined that sleep apnea is not the cause, Dr. Breus suggests lifestyle changes as the most effective way to reduce or eliminate snoring. But when faced with a choice between losing weight or quitting alcohol and smoking, it’s not surprising that many people are tempted by the promise of anti-snoring gadgets.

Over the course of two months, we tested four different devices for at least a week each, recorded the results, as well as the impressions of both the snorer and the sufferer.

Hupnos Sleep Mask ($179)

Billed as an intelligent sleep mask that analyzes your snoring habits and acts to curb them, the Hupnos Sleep Mask looked promising at first. The snorer must wear the mask at night and when it detects they’re snoring, it vibrates gently to encourage a change of position that should help open up airways and reduce snoring.

best anti snoring devices hupnos sleep mask

The way the mask works is that the app on your connected phone listens for snoring. Once snoring is detected, the mask can vibrate slightly to encourage a change of position or increase the pressure when you exhale, known as Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP). It’s important to note that although the Hupnos mask uses EPAP, it is not designed to treat sleep apnea or replace a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device.

I think most people would find the Hupnos mask restrictive and uncomfortable.

While Harry found the Hupnos sleep mask was great at keeping out light, and the microfiber mask and strap worked well, he disliked the rubbery section designed to go over your nose. It smells quite strongly and feels claustrophobic. Because the mask is fairly bulky, Harry felt it encouraged him to sleep on his back and Linda felt that it made his snoring worse. The vibrate feature didn’t seem to kick in very often – Harry said he didn’t feel it — but on at least one occasion it woke Linda rather than Harry.

Trying it out myself, I found the rubber nose module extremely uncomfortable. In fact, I couldn’t fall asleep with it on. I am blessed in the nasal department (okay, I have a big nose), but I think most people would find the Hupnos mask restrictive and uncomfortable.

Verdict: Fail. The Hupnos Sleep Mask didn’t reduce Harry’s snoring and he found it uncomfortable.

Bose Sleepbuds ($250)

Next up was a set of earbuds designed to mask noise. The Bose Sleepbuds are very small wireless earbuds that hook up to an app on your phone. You can choose from 10 different soothing sounds, such as waves lapping on a beach, heavy rain, or warm static. They’re supposed to match the frequency of snoring and help to mask it, just enough, so that you can fall asleep. It’s important to note they don’t use noise cancellation technology.

best anti snoring devices bose sleepbuds

Linda found the Sleepbuds quite uncomfortable at first, but there are three sets of ear tips provided to help you get the perfect fit. It’s very important that the Sleepbuds form a seal. She eventually got the right size, but still found wearing the Sleepbuds for long periods a problem and as a side sleeper; they felt uncomfortable for her. The Sleepbuds obviously had no impact on Harry’s snoring but the noises did a good job of masking it, and Linda felt the relief from bouts of especially loud snoring might make the discomfort worthwhile.

If you regularly wear earbuds and don’t have issues with comfort, then the Sleepbuds will likely work for you.

If you regularly wear earbuds and don’t have issues with comfort, then the Sleepbuds will likely work for you. I tested them out and found they worked well to mask my tinnitus. They also have a smart alarm feature that will only wake the wearer, and they come in a super stylish charging case. You can find out more in my Bose Sleepbuds review.

Verdict: Mixed. The Bose Sleepbuds won’t stop snoring, but they can mask it for suffering partners, provided earbud comfort isn’t an issue.

Zeeq Smart Pillow ($99)

We switched gears with the next gadget and tried a pillow. The Zeeq Smart Pillow has speakers and microphones built-in and it’s capable of playing music, sleep tracking, sleep analysis, playing a smart alarm, and supposedly reducing snoring. The Zeeq listens for snoring and when it hits a preset decibel level that you’ve set in the mobile app, it uses vibration motors to encourage the snorer to change position.

best anti snoring devices zeeq smart pillow

Harry was skeptical at first, but when he laid his head on the pillow he was sold straight away because he found it very comfortable. There’s a shredded memory foam filling and a special hypoallergenic fabric cover with moisture-wicking temperature control. It starts off by analyzing your sleep and snoring volume. Harry was averaging 53 decibels with a high of 83 decibels, which is louder than a vacuum cleaner and somewhere around a kettle boiling.

Linda felt there was a reduction in Harry’s snoring straight away, but when they set the decibel level down to 40 decibels, she went an entire week without being woken up by his snoring. Harry felt he was sleeping better too; he reported the vibrations were gentle enough that they were prompting a change of position without actually waking him. The efficacy of the Zeeq became clearer when they went on a short trip without the pillow and Linda was woken repeatedly in the hotel by Harry’s loud snoring.

Linda said she felt better rested and happier than she had in a long time.

Our test couple didn’t want to stop using the Zeeq. Linda said she felt better rested and happier than she had in a long time, and that this was the longest number of consecutive nights they had spent together in the same bed in years – usually one of them would spend a couple of nights a week at least in the spare room. There’s clearly a reason the Zeeq makes our best smart pillows list.

Verdict: Success. Both Harry and Linda reported better sleep and a drastic reduction in Harry’s snoring.

QuietOn Sleep Earplugs ($160)

Our final gadget comes from Finland and it’s another set of earplugs. But the QuietOn Sleep earplugs don’t play sounds or hook up to your phone, preferring active noise cancellation to drown out sound in your vicinity, including snoring. The fit is important, and you get a set of differently-sized ear tips in the box. Just like the Sleepbuds, it’s vital to form a seal for them to work effectively.

best anti snoring devices sleep quieton

Once again comfort was an issue for Linda, and she found it difficult to fall asleep lying on her side as the earplug was pushed further in. But with the right ear tips and a proper seal, the QuietOn Sleep did a remarkable job of blocking out noise. It’s most effective against low frequency noises, like snoring, traffic, or airplane engines. Comfort issues aside, she found it effective in blocking out noise.

I could be in the room with a robot vacuum and hardly hear it, but when my wife spoke to me, the sound was crystal clear.

It can seem eerily quiet with the earplugs in, but there is a talk mode which you can activate by tapping the side of each earplug. Unfortunately, I found this a little tricky and it took multiple taps to get it to work – there’s no actual button, so you just have to listen to hear the difference. The QuietOn earbuds were very effective at blocking certain noises, so I could be in the room with a robot vacuum and hardly hear it, but when my wife spoke to me, the sound was crystal clear.

The QuietOn Sleep earbuds come with a portable charging case with a magnetic lid, and you can plug any standard charger into the Micro USB port. Charging time is just an hour and you’ll get at least a couple of nights worth of use (QuietOn says 20 hours) before you have to charge them. They’re suitable for any noisy environment where you’re struggling to sleep.

Verdict: Mixed. The QuietOn Sleep earplugs don’t reduce snoring, but they do block it out, along with any other low frequency noise.

Final Verdict

The clear winner in our tests was the Zeeq Smart Pillow, and it’s the device our now happy and well-rested couple are sticking with. If you don’t mind having something in your ears, then the Bose Sleepbuds and QuietOn Sleep Earplugs both have their charms. For people who crave absolute silence, QuietOn will work best, and for those who like a gentle background noise to lull them to sleep, Bose has you covered. The Hupnos Sleep Mask was the least effective of the bunch and I can’t see many people agreeing to sleep with their nose in a rubber plug.

At the end of the day, the Zeeq was not only the most effective, but also the cheapest and least intrusive for both the snorer and the sufferer. But everyone is different, so your mileage may vary.


Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Wearable chargers and A.I.-enhanced keyboards

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Eight Sleep's Pod bed cools, heats, and tracks sleep data for couples

The Pod bed by Eight Sleep measures data to determine a sleep fitness score. It also creates the ideal temperature environment to help you get better sleep. How does the Pod bed measure up?

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Movies & TV

Sit down and watch some of the best stand-up comedy on Netflix

Feeling a little funny? There are hundreds of hilarious comedy specials out there, and you can't be expected to comb through them all. Lucky for you, we've compiled a list of the best stand-up specials on Netflix.

Best air conditioner deals: LG, TCL, and Frigidaire get discounts

We’re well into summer, but the hottest days are yet to come. Here are a few air conditioner deals available online right now for both portable and window-mounted units in a variety of BTU outputs so you can find the right one for your…
Smart Home

Walmart knocks down prices on Dyson handheld vacuums in post-Prime Day sale

Post-Prime Day sales often include great deals when sellers clear out extra inventory after the sales event. Walmart knocked down the prices on two Dyson V6 Trigger handheld vacuums and one of the deals is clearly better.

Kenzie wants to hide smart assistants inside its cute, crocheted animals

Kenzie is a company that just launched on Kickstarter with the intention of hiding smart speakers beneath adorable, crotcheted stuffed animals. The firm's intention is to disrupt the tech industry with cuteness.

Walmart slashes prices on Dyson Ball multifloor upright vacuums

Walmart continues to offer attractive post-Prime Day deals on Dyson vacuums. In addition to significant price cuts on Dyson cordless handheld vacs, Walmart also slashed the prices of two Dyson upright vacuum models.

Amazon Prime Day deals are ending, but you can still get great bargains

Prime Day 2019 has come to an end for Amazon, but that doesn't mean the Prime Day deals are over. With deals from Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon still going on, this massive shopping event is continuing on through the week.

Check out these hacks on BOGO deals for Echo Dot, Google Home Mini

The Prime Day 2019 tsunami has receded, but you don't have to wait for monster sales events to get excellent prices. We discovered what amount to buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) deals for the Amazon Echo Dot and the Google Home Mini. 
Smart Home

How to protect your home from brownouts during this weekend's heat wave

A nationwide heat wave will bring sweltering temperatures to most of the lower 48 states this weekend. Fortunately, your smart thermostat can help protect your home and loved ones during this crisis.

Looking for a smart ceiling fan? Amazon has a $95 Post-Prime Day discount

If you are looking for a cooling solution that is more economical than an air conditioner, check out the Haiku Home L Series 52-Inch Smart Ceiling Fan. Buy it on Amazon now to get a $95 post-Prime Day discount.
Smart Home

Forget counting sheep. Catch some Z's (and track them) with a new smart mattress

Want a better night's sleep? One way to see how well you're sleeping is a smart mattress, which track various health metrics to help you understand what might be keeping you up. Here are the best smart mattresses on the market right now.

Walmart cuts prices of GE window air conditioners for the Big Save sale

Whether you are in need of a new window air conditioner or looking to replace an old model, now is the time to buy. Walmart's “The Big Save” sale is extended until July 21. Get these GE window air conditioners under $160.