Wednesday Woo: Neti Pot for Snoring

I’m a bit into woo. Not the “woo” of drunk girls at a bar on a Saturday night, the woo of those who are into more crunchy or alternative techniques for health, wellness, and relaxation. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about modern medicine and a huge supporter of vaccines. However, I love to also try out different ways to improve sleep, health, and focus on top of using tried and true scientific methods. I am not a doctor or an expert, and especially now it’s important to adhere to what medical professionals suggest for our safety and health. However, we all have a bit more time and a bit more stress and maybe some of my favorite “woo” methods may be an enjoyable addition to your routine. I’ll have a post on Wednesdays called Wednesday Woo.

Today's Woo is About My Love for My Neti Pot and How It Stopped my Snoring

I don’t want to think of how much I have spent on neti pots over the decades. Not nearly enough as foundations that didn’t match my face but I felt too guilty to return. Not nearly enough as clearance extra 40% off jeans that gave me diaper butt or plumber’s butt or camel toe. But yeah, I’ve bought my share of neti pots. I’d read something in a magazine, and then see some website reference it, I’d get it, I’d do it and as soon as that water hit my nose I smelled the indoor pool that one year I tried winter swim team and the neti pot would go in the trash. That was not a good winter.

I’ve had allergies all my life, and even got shots most of my school years. When Claritin came on the market, I was all in, first as a prescription and then OTC. If it stopped working for me I’d switch to another: Allegra, Zyrtec, and more nights with Benadryl than I should have, I maintained those seasonal allergies with whatever would get the job done.

This is not me. But neti pot stock photo is kinda grody to look for and when I searched RawPixel with the keyword nose, this came up and I thought it was cute.

Until I turned 40. And suddenly I became not an occasional drunk or sick snorer, but an every night snorer. A snorer that bought all kinds of gadgets and pillows, the kind that caused her husband to sleep with earplugs. I felt so guilty, but I wasn’t sure what to do. My doctor said to do a saline spray at night and suggested adding a prescription med along with Zyrtec. I tried it and it helped with sniffles but not the snoring. 

August 2019, my husband decided to go plant-based. He didn’t force it upon me and my daughter, but as the primary cook and grocery buyer in the home, he said he would no longer prepare it though we could buy and prepare it if we wanted it. My animal-based food consumption reduced drastically, only happening if I went out to eat or it was a special occasion, like pizza and Doritos for our daughter’s birthday or Easter brunch. My snoring reduced drastically. But when it was allergy season (or I enjoyed an evening with a cheese plate and a couple of glasses of sauvignon blanc) I’d start back up again.

And then we all had to shelter in place. My husband went to the grocery store to stock up, and filled the fridge with wonderful plant-based food. Did I mention he also stopped drinking so the only alcohol in the house is a bottle of Barefoot pink sparkling in the back of the refrigerator from last spring when I did a campaign with them, a bottle of red in the back of the pantry that a hotel provided when I did a stay with them, and about 1/10 a bottle of Tito’s that is as old as our daughter? I decided to embrace the sober, plant-based life.

A week into this new life, I stopped snoring. And then our area got hit with some serious pollen. My eyes itched, my nose was either stuffy or runny, and I began snoring again.

“You should neti pot,” Karl said while tipped over the kitchen sink, running water out of his nostril. I shivered, both seeing this sight, remembering the feeling of the last time I tried a neti pot, and that smell/feel from winter swim team. But then I thought… if not now, when? It’s not some serious woo, even doctors recommend it. I ordered one with our final Amazon order of things we felt we would need in the next few weeks. I used it in the evening we opened the box, just before going upstairs to go to bed. Karl reported the next morning: no snoring. And the next night, no snoring. And then I got my period which can often intensify my reaction to my allergies… no snoring. And then one night I forgot to and you guessed it, I snored.

Not only does using a neti pot stop me from snoring, it makes me less sniffly and stuffy during the day. It's also good to flush out the nose of anything picked up during the day. We have this electric kettle, we use water from it that has been boiled and then cooled. Do not use ordinary tap water with a neti pot; this link from the FDA recommends what water to use. We also use the salt specifically for neti pots, Karl prefers NeilMed, I’m using the jar of salt that came with my pot. Karl’s pot is some organic or recycled or whatever composite material from the organic market; mine is ceramic. They work the same. I don’t think a fancy neti pot will give you a drastically different experience, mine cost less than $20 and came with a good-sized tub of salt with a measuring spoon and some essential oil blend you can add to the water for an extra “boost”.

This weekend I got down on the floor and wet dusted behind the bed because that’s what we do when cooped up and feeling out of control. I found odd socks, a sleep mask monogrammed with my Instagram handle, three different lip balms, a piece of my jade roller that fell off my nightstand and shattered, and three different little silicone and plastic devices I used to stick up my nose before turning off the lamp in hopes it would reduce my snoring. I used to freak out when I’d wake without one in my nose and I couldn’t find it. I was buying three-packs every few months, and had two in my toiletries kit at the ready so I wouldn’t be without on travel. I checked my Amazon purchases, I haven’t bought any since November 2019. That fact is super freeing, and that feeling is more powerful than the feeling of winter swim team ickiness.

14 Comments

  1. Sandra
    May 3, 2020 / 4:23 pm

    Women are under-tested for sleep apnea. I hope your doctor screened you and considered a sleep study.
    Welcome to allergy season 🙂 I feel your pain.
    Best wishes.

  2. Allison
    April 13, 2020 / 5:47 pm

    I’m so glad to see Woo Wednesday as a series, and not what I worried might have been an April Fool’s joke (as the first one went up on the first). I tried a neti pot in the past with mixed success–I didn’t have any bad experiences, but I didn’t see enough benefits to make it worth it. Maybe I’ll try it again.

  3. Marlise
    April 9, 2020 / 3:06 am

    When my son was younger he always had terrible seasonal allergies and colds that required a nebulizer and at least a week’s worth of albuterol and Pulmicort to keep them from turning into bronchitis. When he turned eight, his pediatrician recommended using a neti pot or sinus rinse at the first sign of congestion. It was the first time I had heard of either but we tried the sinus rinse (the squeeze bottle was easier to manage with a child). Amazing! He never had to use the nebulizer again. I use it, too, whenever I’m congested or feel a head cold coming on.

  4. Marni
    April 8, 2020 / 4:49 pm

    I usually use a neti pot during allergy season and when I have a sniffle. But I read that nasal irrigation should be avoided right now, as it can move virus cells deeper into your nasal passages. Seems like a reasonable warning, but maybe more research is required…

  5. Emily
    April 8, 2020 / 4:22 pm

    I literally had not heard of a neti pot before this post and had to google to see what it was! Any other non-US people in the same boat??

  6. Rosie
    April 8, 2020 / 2:39 pm

    I keep a stainless steel neti in the shower. It lives there permanently. Just bring your saline in with you and do it nekkid. No contortions required unless for amusement.

  7. Sonia
    April 8, 2020 / 11:19 am

    Both my husband I have neti pots. He prefers the bottle, while I have the pot. I didn’t realize that using it would help with snoring. I know I snore and I can snore loud that’s why I’ve gotten in the habit of sleeping on my side vs. on my back. I need to get back in the habit of using it. I don’t use it regularly because I too feel that the water is intrusive while passing through my nose passages and, sometimes, I suffer a slight headache afterwards. But, I guess that’s a small discomfort compared to the health hazards that snoring causes. Thanks again, Allie, for your insightful posts outside of fashion and style. Your column means so much more to me during these trying times.

  8. Joannawnyc
    April 8, 2020 / 8:52 am

    I’ve tried both the NeilMed squeeze bottle and the neti pot and prefer the neti pot–it feels gentler. I am amazed at how much difference it’s made to my well-being. I was really squicked by the idea at first and now I regret not starting sooner. I just bought one for my 22 year old who’s showing signs of taking after his mum in the sinus dept.

  9. Bette
    April 8, 2020 / 8:32 am

    My husband and his family have used a Neti pot all their lives. Only recently, health care providers started recommending them during my visits, which suggests to me that they’re now mainstream here in the US. I’m still trying to force myself over the first-time hurdle of pouring water into my nose — I know I’ll love it once I do. Thank you for reminding everyone not to use tap water!

  10. Sarah
    April 8, 2020 / 7:57 am

    I have done the NeilMed sinus rinse during allergy season for several years now. But I found this the most eye-opening sentence in the entire piece: “ And then I got my period which can often intensify my reaction to my allergies… no snoring. ” Maybe that’s why I feel so miserable this week with allergies. Thanks Alison for one more good bit of knowledge.

  11. Julie
    April 8, 2020 / 7:47 am

    I tell people that the Neti pot changed my life. I remember having a cold so bad that I was certain I had some horrible disease. A trip to my local urgent care, which always comes with a prescription for something, revealed that I had a “bad cold” and nothing more. A friend suggested a Neti pot. Now every time I feel the tell-tale symptoms of a cold, the Neti pot comes out. I haven’t had a cold since.

  12. Leu2500
    April 8, 2020 / 7:40 am

    I’ve used a Neti pot. But what I didn’t like was the contortions it involved. NeilMed – they are the brand of netipot I find in stores – also sells a sinus rinse that does the same thing. But no contortions. It’s a squirt bottle. I find it much easier to use.

    I too snored. Never thought it was a big deal – everyone snores, right? Well, when I started seeing a specialist for my asthma she sent me for a sleep study. Turns out my snoring was a symptom of sleep apnea. I was amazed how much better I felt after I started treatment.

    • Danielle
      April 8, 2020 / 8:50 am

      Yessss!!! The neti squeeze bottle is a game changer. So much easier on my neck.

    • Melissa
      April 8, 2020 / 3:36 pm

      I also use the NeilMed squeeze bottle, with packets of the salt mix. Like Allie I used cooled, boiled water. If it’s really cold I’ll add a titch of freshly boiled water to warm it up.

      It’s sort of grossly satisfying to do, and has helped immensely with chronic sinus issues. Not a snorter so I can’t speak to that, but when I don’t use it wake up with dry, blood crusty nostrils, so something janky happens when I sleep.

      The only downside is sometimes when I lean or bend over within a few hours of a rinse water will run out. Learned the hard way to wait until after a massage to hit the rinse.

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