The diagnosis of sleep apnea can be scary. It’s alarming to discover you stop breathing hundreds of times while you sleep and that puts you at risk for additional problems. The traditional treatment for apnea is a CPAP machine, which uses forced air to keep your airway open.
Sleep apnea has real health consequences like high blood pressure and cardiac failure. Many, however, dislike using the loud, annoying, uncomfortable, and expensive CPAP machine.
Luckily, there is a non-invasive exercise treatment that holds a lot of promise for sufferers who are tired of dealing with CPAP or dental devices, and who don’t want to undergo surgery.
Scientifically proven exercises exist that will cure, or significantly reduce, sleep apnea. Oropharyngeal, or mouth and tongue, exercises were shown to reduce the frequency of snoring by 36 percent. Saying the word oropharyngeal is an exercise, but believe it or not, these simple exercises derived from speech and swallowing therapy can help you to get a good night’s rest. Performed correctly, you will see a decrease in apnea symptoms like daytime sleepiness as well.
These exercises aren’t a substitute for following your doctor’s instructions, but they can help decrease symptoms. Just like with any exercise, if you don’t keep up with it regularly, you won’t see the benefits.
Use it or lose it
The main goal of exercising the throat, tongue, soft palate and jaw is to tone and strengthen the muscles that block your air passage. Actively toning the muscles that keep your airway open will strengthen throat muscles that collapse during sleep. Focusing on tongue exercises will help you if your tongue falls back into your throat when you sleep.
Throat Exercise – Roar
In this exercise, you will mimic a tiger about to roar, strengthening the muscles at the back of your throat. Making noise isn’t required for the exercise. Use a mirror to ensure the technique is performed properly.
Tongue Exercise – Slide
Exercising the tongue regularly can reduce neck circumference, decrease snoring, and improve apnea symptoms. They’ll also help strengthen jaw muscles.
Soft Palate Exercise – Blow
If you’ve been diagnosed with a weak, soft palate, it likely collapses and obstructs your airway while you sleep. This exercise will strengthen the palate and uvula, keeping them up and out of the way during sleep. Your throat will expand, and you’ll breathe easier from soft palate exercises.
Jaw Exercise – Clench
Making your jaw stronger without harming your teeth is challenging. The idea behind this exercise is to hold your jaw muscles in a slightly clenched bite without clamping down. This slight clench will encourage muscle tone in your jaw.
Mouth Exercise – Swallow
Challenging yourself to swallow with an open mouth will develop the muscles throughout your jaw, soft palate, and throat, giving you a complete workout.
Cheek Exercise – Stretch
This exercise involves your cheek muscles. Providing resistance to the muscle and forcibly returning it to position will make these muscles stronger.
A simple and enjoyable way to train the muscles in your mouth and throat is to chew gum. Alternate chewing on both sides to equally target all muscles. Practice blowing bubbles.
Choose the exercises that are most closely related to your diagnosis. Focus on throat muscles if your doctor has diagnosed this as the cause of your condition. If your doctor believes your tongue falling back into your throat is the likely cause of your apnea, target those exercises.
Eight minutes of exercise, three times a day can reduce your symptoms by as much as a third.
Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!