Anti-snoring Wristbands: How Do They Work, and Are They Worth It?

Imagine your hectic day is behind you, and being all comfy in your bed, ready to get a good long night's sleep before facing tomorrow. You've brushed your teeth, double-checked to make sure that your alarm is set, and kissed your partner goodnight. You feel yourself drifting away as you listen to your favorite bedtime music.

Key takeaways:
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    There is no evidence that wristband electronic shock devices are effective in stopping snoring.
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    Wristband electronic shock devices are expensive and may actually cause sleep disruption and insomnia because of the fear of falling asleep.
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    The person snoring, no matter how loudly, normally sleeps well — it is the other person who is most affected.

However, just as you're about to doze off — your snoring partner startles you out of what was going to be a restful night. You now find yourself counting sheep to try to fall asleep while the person on the other side of the bed is sawing wood like a baby.

Most people don’t even believe they snore. How could they? They are asleep.

Snoring is common, and it can bring havoc to relationships, cause arguments, establish avoidance patterns, and change where and when people sleep in different situations.

The distinction between snoring, which is just noise, and actual trouble sleeping or breathing can be difficult to determine. The diagnosis of sleep apnea or stopping breathing while sleeping often requires a sleep study or polysomnogram ordered by a doctor.

Most people only snore, but it can occur intermittently or be habitual. The sleep problem tends to affect the person trying to sleep with someone snoring nearby rather than the person who is snoring.

There are many people, perhaps half of the population in the United States, who snore at some point. However, even more, they are desperately seeking some type of snoring solution, either for themselves or others.

There are many tricks and recommendations that claim to help people stop snoring, but many of them simply don’t work. Therefore, be wary of anti-snoring devices which promise too much.

Unfortunately, there are over 300 anti-snoring devices with registered patents in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Despite that, the sad truth is that a patent does not mean that they actually work to stop snoring.

Wrist bands or electronic shock bracelets are one type of anti-snoring device to avoid. They do not work.

How wristbands claim to stop snoring

Most of these products are purported to be the panacea to stop snoring when other solutions fail to work. Furthermore, they claim to use state-of-the-art technology.

The concept is that the wristband stimulates the wearer with a weak electronic shock when the person snores. However, it is unclear whether any loud noise would elicit an electronic shock, which could severely impact a person’s sleep.

Think about that for a moment. Who wants to receive an electronic shock when sleeping?

This technology appears to be similar to that used for dog bark collars. The dog bark collar is used as a training device. When the collar senses the vibrations caused by barking, it beeps once or twice before releasing an electrical pulse. The idea is to condition the dog not to bark and to get them to relax because they have learned that a shock comes after the beep. Some of these dog bark collars only use sound and vibration without actually emitting an electrical shock, so they are touted as being pain-free.

However, the problem is that the wristband bracelet may shock the wearer. This is intended to stun the snorer slightly to get them to stop snoring without waking up the other person without noise or vibration like the dog bark collar. The electronic shock is used to train the wearer to suppress their snoring.

Do the wristbands really stop snoring?

It is safe to assume that the snorer "training" is unpleasant — and that it's unlikely to be successful. One key consideration and distinction is that the person wearing the wristband is not a dog and should not be treated as one.

First, it will most likely wake up the wearer and disturb the person’s sleep, which may wake up the bed partner anyway. While this may prompt the wearer to change position to stop snoring, that may not be as effective as one might hope.

Second, the wearer will essentially suffer from electronically induced sleep apnea. In other words, the wearer will suffer from potentially severe sleep deprivation because of being awakened constantly.

Lastly, there may not be anything the wearer can do to stop snoring and the subsequent electronic shock. This amounts to continual negative reinforcement. The wearer may have considerable difficulty falling asleep if they become afraid that they will get an electric shock without being able to control it.

Contraindications for shocking snorers

An electronic wristband shock to stop snoring may be dangerous for people who live with a pacemaker or other medical implant that relies on electronic components.

While the electronic wristband shock is likely low voltage and considered safe, any electronic shock is unpleasant. It may not cause pain, but who would want to try to sleep with the fear of getting an electric shock?

Again, the premise supposes the wearer has some control or can do something to avoid snoring and, thus, the electronic shock. The fact is, that most people who snore would make the necessary adjustments to stop snoring on their own — if they knew how. The question we have to ask ourselves is, "Why would someone subject themselves to an electronic shock to stop their snoring if they could do so themselves?"

These devices are designed not to disrupt bed partners, so noise or vibration are not used. It may be that noise and vibration may be more tolerable to the wearer, even though none of these stimuli may be effective since the person cannot be trained to stop something like snoring. The difference between dogs who bark and humans who snore is that dogs choose to bark, and humans never prefer to snore.

Furthermore, many electronic wristband shock devices use batteries and are not rechargeable. So, first, buying batteries frequently can get expensive. Secondly, the wristbands are designed to be worn for eight hours, but there is no guarantee that the batteries will last every night.

Finally, the cost of electronic wristband shock devices is higher than other devices, such as mouthguards — which may actually stop a person from snoring.

Better options to stop snoring

One simple way to treat any nasal or allergy problems is to help keep the nasal airway open. A person who snores could try using products such as nasal saline, antihistamines, decongestants, nasal steroids, or allergy immunotherapy to make breathing easier, especially while lying down. However, external nasal strips or clips have little impact on snoring — and neither do throat sprays.

Other options to help people who snore include the following:

  • Have an evaluation for an underactive thyroid gland (Hypothyroidism).
  • Sleeping on their side instead of their back.
  • Losing weight helps to reduce the chances of snoring or sleep-related problems such as sleep apnea.
  • Using a humidifier in the room to moisten the air.
  • Avoiding alcohol.
  • Wearing a mouth guard — these can be customized to fit properly.
  • CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines, if indicated and prescribed by a doctor.
  • Evaluation by a sleep expert for other solutions, such as outpatient surgical procedures, which may reduce excess tissue in the back of the throat.

People who snore are often willing to try anything for the sake of the other person sleeping next to them. If the snoring grows too disruptive, it can affect both people by interfering with the relationship and also their quality of life because of lack of sleep. However, as the data supporting the effectiveness of electronic anti-snoring wristbands is lacking, scientists recommend trying other methods to stop snoring first.

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