Ever since Bruce Johnson, a frustrated Minnesotan, decided to tape his nostrils open in the 1980s to combat congestion — millions of frustrated sleepers, athletes and even horses (by way of their trainers) have relied on nasal strips to improve airflow. Nasal strips from popular brands like Breathe Right, Insta Clear and Clear Passage are affordable, easy to pick up from the local corner store and, when applied correctly, can help pry open the obstructive passages of the nostrils — but the question becomes whether or not these medicinal art stickers can actually deaden the nocturnal rumbles from nasal passages.
Most snoring issues originate where the tongue meets the back of the throat. When the muscles in that area are too narrow or relaxed, the tissue vibrates creating common snoring sounds. And in the case of sleep apnea, snoring is more than an annoyance as breathing stops altogether for at least a moment.
Applying tape to the nose each night is a tall order for most, but once a bedmate has lost patience and the effects of degraded sleep quality are felt, any and all methods are on the table. How effective are nasal strips?
SPY’s Recommended Nasal Strips
Do Nasal Strips Help?
“Most of the time if somebody snores chronically, they also have issues where there’s not proper airflow coming through the nose,” Board-Certified ENT Dr. Madan Kandula told Spy. “So there can be an interrelatedness to the sounds coming from the throat and what’s happening at the start of the airway in the nose.”
Sleep specialist Dr. Omavi Bailey told Spy that many snoring and apnea issues that originate in the nose are related to facial structure. “You can have upper airway structures like a very narrow nose with nasal turbulence,” he says. “There are researchers who look at specific phenotypes of facial structures. WSo with certain phenotypes, facial bones may be more recessed. or you can have a recessed jaw with an overbite. There are different facial structures that phenotypically have higher likelihood of snoring or sleep apnea.”
The physicians that Spy spoke with noted that there’s little to no evidence that nasal strips are effective for chronic snorers or people who suffer from sleep apnea. According to a 2016 study published in the JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery journal, nasal strips may temporarily reduce snoring due to infrequent nasal blockage or sinus congestion but are unlikely to help someone who So while they might offer relief to someone who started snoring because a cold has them congested, nasal strips won’t be of help for someone who snores chronically due to structural, allergy-based, or sinus tissue-based complications.
Dr. Kandula emphasizes that chronic snorers should consult a medical professional because persistent snoring can be a sign of more serious health issues.
What The Experts Say About Strips
“Nasal strips, clips and similar devices are all trying to keep your nasal airways open when you’re sleeping at night,” Dr. Kandula explains. “There’s not necessarily harm in trying them.”
It’s not an overwhelming endorsement, but it’s a go-ahead to try the many strips on the market. The doctors SPY spoke with recommended (amidst caveats) that snorers seek out strips with strong adhesives and splints robust enough to keep nasal cavities open. For best results, washing and drying the nose prior to applying nasal strips is strongly recommended.
Breathe Right Original Nasal Strips
30 years after its debut as the original nose strip band, Breathe Right Original nose strips use 2 flexible spring-like bands to lift open nostrils for more airflow. The springs are housed in a breathable, form-fitting material that stays in place thanks to 3M adhesive similar to what is used on bandaids.
Instaclear Extra-Strength Nasal Strips
Ideal for those with oily skin, InstaClear’s extra-strength strips are 50% stronger than their standard variety. Because those with sensitive skin may find extra strength strips too abrasive, it’s wise to first try a standard strength strip instead of jumping straight to a stronger option.
Breathe Right Lavender-Scented Nasal Strips
Associated with sleep, calm, and anxiety reduction, the lavender scent is a natural companion for Breathe Right’s extra-strength nasal strip. 50 percent stronger than Breathe Right’s standard strip, the extra strength variety is designed to allow for up to 31 percent more airflow than its standard counterpart. As with most extra-strength nasal strips, these work best for people who do not suffer from dry or sensitive skin.
Clear Passage Nasal Strips for Sensitive Skin
Slightly less adhesive than normal strips makes these dermatologist-tested strips a good option for those who experience skin agitation with normal strength strips. They utilize the same smart-flex technology found in other Clear Passage strips, providing ample coverage coupled with easier removal.
Clear Passage Nasal Strips
Typical tan nasal strips may not be preferable for everyone, especially those who plan to wear them to the gym or while on a run. These latex-free clear strips are far more incognito without sacrificing strength or flexibility and are available in both standard strength and extra strength.
Clear Passage Performance Nasal Strips
The nasal strip for those who want to look intimidating, or who need a nasal strip that pairs well with a tuxedo. Not that any of those are serious considerations when you’re sleeping with the lights out, but those who also wear nose trips out and about may value style considerations without sacrificing substance. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with the reflection in the mirror looking cool as hell before you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning.
Are Nasal Strips Worth It?
As an accessible and low-cost option to reduce snoring caused by drainage, nasal strips are worth a try on an occasional basis. With so many varieties on the market, it may take some trial and error to find the strips that you find most preferred.
But nasal strips should not be considered a viable solution for chronic snorers or those suffering from sleep apnea. Nasal strips will do almost nothing to abate the symptoms in these instances and worst case scenario will delay worthwhile treatment best done with a professional.
“I’m always looking at genetics, environment and behavior change.” Dr. Bailey says.”Then I take those considerations to help patients improve sleep duration, sleep timing and sleep quality. There’s a full picture of sleep and my objective is not to just treat the sleep disorder, but to use sleep as my treatment for their other health concerns. I want to optimize sleep because that can lower your blood sugar, lower your blood pressure, help you lose weight, improve your mood, and help treat depression.”
Frequently Asked Questions About Nasal Strips
How Do Nasal Strips Work?
Nasal strips attach directly to your face via an adhesive and pull the nasal passage apart to help improve airflow. They’re applied similarly to a band-aid and can be an effective treatment for snoring caused by nasal congestion.
Are Nasal Strips Bad For You?
For loud snorers or those with sleep apnea nasal strips won’t solve the problem and in fact may even delay treatment. An ENT, sleep specialist or healthcare physician can assist in diagnosing sleep apnea and recommending more intensive treatment like a CPAP or similar machine.
Are Nasal Strips Reusable?
Since many are designed with adhesive materials similar to a bandaid they’re best used only once for maximum effectiveness.