Insomnia: Is It All In Your Nose?

Is insomnia all in your nose?

For many people with insomnia finding a satisfying solution can be challenging. After trying various self-help methods, over-the-counter pills, or even prescription medications, it’s not uncommon to end up feeling like your sleep problem is simply due to stress or even “all in your head.” A growing body of research would suggest that your insomnia problem (and the solution) may be in your nose.

If you snore, and possibly even if you don’t, you may not be getting enough air through your nose while you’re sleeping. Some scientists believe this may cause a sensation of “mild suffocation” that leads to sleep that’s broken up and unrefreshing. If you have insomnia and you are not getting enough air while sleeping, the problem is usually so subtle you would never have any reason to blame it on your nose.

However, two research papers published by Barry Krakow, M.D. and colleagues report that when patients with chronic difficulties staying asleep or returning to sleep used nasal dilator strips (Breathe Right Nasal Strips) they experienced significantly better sleep at night and significantly better function and quality of life during the day.

If you have sleep apnea, you probably need to work with your healthcare provider and relying on nasal strips probably isn’t a great idea. However, if you have a stubborn insomnia that refuses to go away with the more traditional solutions, spending a few bucks to open up your nose at night certainly seems worth a try. Breathe Right Nasal Strips can be purchased at your local pharmacy or grocery store (Follow this link for free samples and coupons http://www.breatheright.com/offers). I guess I should close by saying that this post is not intended to be an advertisement for nasal strips. You can check out the references at the bottom for yourself to see the research about insomnia, reduced airflow through your nose, and use of nasal strips to make it better.

Good luck! If you decide to give this a try come back and leave a comment, I would love to hear about your experience whether it’s good bad or ugly.



Krakow B, Melendrez D, Sisley B, Warner TD, Krakow J, Leahigh L, et al. Nasal dilator strip therapy for chronic sleep-maintenance insomnia and symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing: a randomized controlled trial. Sleep Breath 2006;10:16-28.

Krakow B, Warner T, Melendrez D, Krakow J, Sisley B. Nasal Dilator Strip Therapy for Chronic Sleep Maintenance Insomnia: A Case Series. Sleep and Breathing 2004;8:133-140

Ong j, Crisostomo M. The more the merrier? Working towards a multidisciplinary management of obstructive sleep apnea and comorbid insomnia. JCCP 2013. Published online DOI:10.1002/jclp.21958.

Cronlein T, Geisler P, Langguth B, Eichhammer p, Jara C, Pieh C, Zulley J, Hajak G. Polysomnography reveals unexpectedly high rates of organic sleep disorders in patients with prediagnosed primary insomnia. Sleep and Breathing 2012;16:1097-1103.

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