For the average person who suffers from sleep apnea, there are a variety of aids that he or she can use to deal with the issue. Famous ones include mouthpieces, sleep apnea pillows, and of course, CPAP machines. While these options are all great, they tend to be quite uncomfortable to use especially in the first few weeks. However, if you suffer from mild sleep apnea or snoring, you’d be happy to learn that there is another option you can try that’s not intrusive or uncomfortable: the chin strap. In this article, we’ll discuss:
- What chin straps are
- How they can help sleep apnea and snoring
- If there is any scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of chin straps for these ailments
- What the best brands of chin straps to buy are.
What is a Chin Strap and How Does it Help Sleep Apnea and Snoring?
A chin strap is basically a fabric sling that you wear around your head. The bottom part of the chin strap cups your chin and holds it up, while the top part rests on the top of your head. Some chin straps may have a slightly different design, though the difference is usually not very significant.
Chin straps work by pushing your chin up and forcing you to breathe through your nose. By keeping your mouth closed, they also open your airways a little more so that more air can enter your lungs. This is because the jaw is pushed forward when it is closed and this reduces the severity of the tissue collapse in the throat. This can prevent snoring and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. All of this sounds great, but that being said chin straps aren’t suitable for everyone.
Who Should Try Chin Straps?
Chin straps are suitable for snorers who snore with their mouth open, and also those who have obstructive sleep apnea that is due to them sleeping with their mouth open, resulting in the further collapse of the soft tissue of the throat. They also can be used in combination with the CPAP to make it more effective.
However, they are not useful for those who snore with their mouth closed (for example, snorers who snore because of sinusitis etc.), those with severe obstructive sleep apnea, or those with other kinds of sleep apnea where sleeping with the mouth closed can result in no breathing at all (which of course is dangerous and totally misses the point of using a chin strap in the first place). If you decide to try a chin strap and your partner says that you have started making choking or gasping sounds at night while using the chin strap, this is sign that you should stop using it right away and find another solution to help with your condition, be it snoring or sleep apnea.
Are Chin Straps Really Effective According to Scientific Evidence?
To date, no proper clinical studies have been done on the effectiveness of chin straps for snoring or sleep apnea. There was a study done on whether chin straps were good accompaniments to the CPAP mask, and in that study involving 15 participants, it was found that chin straps reduced the amount of leaks by the CPAP mask and also the number of times participants were aroused during sleep. However, it was also found that in some instances usage of a chin strap with a CPAP mask increased snoring and also increased the number of apneas. You can read about that study here.
On the flip side, there was a case study done on an elderly gentleman in Virginia that showed chin straps being as effective as a CPAP for severe obstructive sleep apnea with some central sleep apnea thrown in. The chin strap also decreased the incidence of snoring in the patient. The patient eventually discontinued use of the CPAP and proceeded to use only the chin strap, and felt just fine. You can read about that case study here. However, since the case study involved only one person, it is possible that this result was an exception rather than the rule (Note: Don’t attempt to discontinue your CPAP and use a chin strap without the okay from your doctor!).
The bottom line is when it comes to scientific evidence, there isn’t much to back up the effectiveness of chin straps. That being said, they have worked for some people, and since they are usually inexpensive and are a simple, comfortable solution, there is no harm in trying out a chin strap for your snoring or sleep apnea (unless of course, you have a condition which makes it dangerous for you to use one).
Best Brands of Chin Straps You Can Try Out
There are many brands of chin straps out there, and it’s really tough to figure out which ones are the best for you without trying them first. All of the chin straps below have mixed reviews from consumers, and the reason they are in the top five chin straps is because they are the most popular on Amazon and in general.
This is the most expensive chin strap in the market, and the manufacturers market it as effective, comfortable and lightweight. The chin strap comes in a black and blue design that goes around the head with holes for the ears to go through. Some people said it worked for them and the money was worth the investment, while others don’t agree with that and did not get the desired results. If you have some extra money to spend then you can try out this product, otherwise it’s probably wiser to try out the many cheaper options out there. Here are some reviews on this product (both good and bad):
- “…Don’t waste your time with this chinstrap. Too many people have complained about it and most of them say it doesn’t work at all. Once you consider the hefty price tag of over a hundred dollars I’m sure you’ll want to skip this one…”
- “…I have used your “My Snoring Solution” now for 2 nights. My wife reports an amazing difference in that I am no longer snoring, on my back or my side, but what has amazed me the most is how much better I feel after a night’s sleep! Thanks for a great night’s sleep!”…”
- “…I purchased two of their jaw supporters that are supposed to make you stop snoring for my adult son and myself. Neither of us could wear the thing for more than 30 minutes and could not go to sleep with it on as it made it difficult to breath and caused pain in my jaw…”
- “…When I saw the My Snoring Solution jaw supporter online, I thought, “I’ve got nothing to lose” and I ordered one. I began wearing it (at night) from the first day it arrived. My snoring ceased immediately. …”
This chin strap is thinner than the My Snoring Solution chin strap and is made of neoprene. The manufacturers claim that it is adjustable and can be worn by any member of the family with no issues. That being said some consumers did say that the chin strap was too big or too small for their heads. As with all chin straps, it works for some but not for others. Here are some reviews from Amazon on this product:
- “…For some reasons my mom always had this loud snoring problem. I made her try this snoring chinstrap and my dad thanked me endlessly. The product is highly effective in controlling the snoring issue without any issues at all…”
- “…It doesn’t really seem to help with my snoring at all, BUT I have noticed that the quality of my sleep and breathing at night has improved dramatically when I’m using it. It’s also a lot more comfortable than it looks….”
- “…I tried this for two nights and, according to my boyfriend, this did not work at all. I was able to sleep in it … it was comfortable enough … although it looks ridiculous….”
This chin strap is made of the manufacturer’s trademark Breathe-o-Prene material and is adjustable through Velcro straps to accommodate three sizes, namely small, medium, and large. They also have an extra large version of the chin strap for those who are unable to use the regular version because it’s too small. Here are some reviews on this chin strap from Amazon:
- “…I’ve been using it nightly for a little over a month now, and it works great. It does take about a week to get used to. Making sure you’re putting it on correctly is also a key factor. It’s pretty easy to put it on wrong and it feels totally too tight and wrong when you do. I’ve found that in the morning my mouth and throat are no longer dry, and I don’t wake myself up with my own snoring anymore…”
- “…I have been wearing chin straps for five years. I have tried almost every name brand available and this is the most comfortable and best designed one I have found and the quality is very good. I am so proud to finally find a chin strap that I like…”
- “…Over the last couple of years I transitioned from occasional snoring to chronic snoring/apnea. I would wake up tired and often with a headache. Enough coverage in the press about the long term risks of apnea motivated me to try something. Basically this product holds my mouth shut while I sleep, forcing me to breathe through my nose. My soft palate doesn’t collapse and I don’t snore. My sleep has improved greatly. I sleep more deeply and wake up less frequently during the night. I wake my wife less so she’s happy, too…”
This chin strap is quite popular and is one of the best ones out there. Originally made by Phillips, now the design of this chin strap has been employed by manufacturers who also call their products as “Respironics chin straps”, so the brand name has been more linked to the design now. The chin strap is black in color and has a band that not only goes around the head, but also straps the back of the head as well. The chin strap is slightly big though so this product may not be suitable for those with smaller heads. The Respironics Premium chin strap is not only useful for snoring, but also for use with a CPAP mask. The chin strap is also machine-washable. Some excerpts from Amazon reviews on this chin strap are given below:
- “…It had become apparent to me as a long time CPAP user that I needed a chin strap to keep my mouth closed. I purchased a cheap strap thru Amazon as a trial balloon. Found that the concept could work, but that the design of the strap was inadequate. So I looked for a better design, and found this one. It’s actually engineered to keep the mouth closed, making use of a chin cradling design held in place by a designed angle approach. It works. It’s comfortable, and I’m extremely satisfied….”
- “…The Respironics Premium Chin Strap largely delivers on the promise to alleviate the “dry-horrors” of open mouth breathing – while sleeping. I find the Strap to provide more comfortable restraint and it is more durable than similar brands used in the past…”
- “…I was having a lot of trouble with dry mouth in the middle of the night and it was two or three times a night. Since I have been using this chin strap in conjunction with my CPAP machine, it has gone down to maybe once every two or three days and no where a dry as before. I would highly recommend this strap to solve your dry mouth or snoring problems. Down side is it is a bit uncomfortable and messy hair in the morning…”
It may not be scientifically-proven that chin straps do anything for snoring or sleep apnea, but there is anecdotal evidence that they do help some people. For those suffering from mild to moderate sleep apnea or snoring (that is caused by collapse of the throat tissues), it is worth a try before moving on to more expensive solutions. You never know if it might work for you. Even those who are already on CPAP treatment can benefit from a chin strap since it may help prevent leaks and force the patient to breathe through the nose especially if the patient is using a nasal CPAP mask. Before using a chin strap though, be sure to check with your doctor if it is suitable for your condition.