You've seen the ads. You've heard the loud, repetitive pitches from "Zyppah Jimmy." But is the Zyppah the snoring solution that you've been searching for or just another gimmick? The money-back guarantee seems like a no-lose proposition, but are there any hidden downsides to trying the Zyppah? Here is Dr. Krainin's in-depth analysis and review of this popular snoring aid.
What is Zyppah and what sets it apart from other snoring appliances on the market?
The Zyppah (pronounced "ZEE -pa") Stop Snoring Hybrid Oral Appliance entered the already-crowded snoring aid market in 2012. The name is "HappyZ" spelled backward - as in the type of ZZZs you get from quality sleep. Developed by dentist Dr. Jonathan Greenburg, the device touts a unique dual-mechanism approach to snoring treatment:
- mandibular advancement, i.e. pushing the lower jaw forward - all oral snoring devices and oral appliances for sleep apnea offer this.
- a tongue strap - this elastic band supposedly holds your tongue in place and prevents it, according to zyppah.com, from "relaxing in the back of your throat while asleep."
The other thing that sets the Zyppah apart from other anti-snoring devices is the company's aggressive marketing campaign and business model. The ads sound like infomercials with unsophisticated marketing tactics of repetitive near-yelling and juvenile humor. You can only buy Zyppah "directly from the source" - the company has sole control over its product, doesn't allow it to be sold by retailers, and you won't find it on Amazon. The campaign has worked: awareness of the Zyppah brand is widespread and "Zyppah" is trending on Google searches.
Is Zyppah effective?
Medical research suggests that moving the tongue base forward through mandibular advancement is likely to be the primary mechanism by which oral appliances for snoring and sleep apnea work:
Therefore the "tongue strap" seems redundant and the claim that it offers an additional benefit seems doubtful. There is another set of oral appliances for snoring and sleep apnea called tongue retaining devices (TRDs), which are effective in advancing just the tongue and preventing it from blocking the upper airway, but as you can see, they work by a completely different mechanism:
Also, TRDs are notoriously uncomfortable and difficult to tolerate long-term.
Despite the lack of logic behind the claims for the tongue strap being beneficial, you might be compelled enough by the generous 90-day return policy to try the Zyppah. However, there is quite a bit of misleading information and vague language in the Zyppah's FAQ section that need to be unpacked so that you can better understand what you're getting into:
- Snoring is not solely caused by the tongue. The tongue is just one factor, and not necessarily the primary one, in snoring. Other factors include: body weight, soft palate, uvula, tonsils, adenoids, as well as neck and jaw size and structure.
- SNORING doesn't hurt your health and sleep quality, SLEEP APNEA does. Chronic snoring (snoring at least some of the time during the majority of nights) is the most common risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is a dangerous medical problem. To diagnose sleep apnea, you need a sleep apnea test (note: a home sleep study is sufficient to evaluate you for OSA). This distinction is important because...
- Zyppah is "FDA cleared" only for snoring, not for sleep apnea treatment. There are oral appliances on the market that are FDA-approved for sleep apnea. These devices have gone through rigorous testing and validation of their effectiveness for treating OSA. Zyppah is not one of these devices. The Zyppah FAQs website page refers to a "Zyppah professional oral appliance" for sleep apnea but no further information is available. The Zyppah Pro website is "under construction" at the time of publication of this article.
The Bottom Line:
The jury is still out as to whether you will gain ZZZs with the Zyppah or simply lose $$$. Here are the key takeaway points that you need to know about the Zyppah:
- Zyppah's hyped "hybrid" mechanism of action is unlikely to be superior to traditional snoring appliances.
- That said, Zyppah's return policy is generous and makes the device financially low-risk to try.
- Be wary of Zyppah's health-related claims. The Zyppah is not FDA-approved to treat obstructive sleep apnea; it could theoretically quiet your snoring while leaving you vulnerable to the negative health effects of undiagnosed OSA. If you snore the majority of nights of the week, you should have a sleep apnea test to rule out the presence of OSA.
- If you have OSA, you need a treatment that is specifically approved for this dangerous medical condition.
Joseph Krainin, M.D., FAASM is the founder of Singular Sleep, the world's first online sleep center. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and board certified in both sleep medicine and neurology. He has been practicing medicine for over 10 years.
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