Snoring is a common problem that most people ignore. To the surprise of many, occasional snores have possible health risks that you may not be aware of.
This problem can affect anyone regardless of age or gender. However, it is very common in men and overweight individuals. It gets worse as you grow older and there may be need to do something to stop snoring.
- There are many devices and sleep aids on the market that help improve sleep apnea.
- But perhaps you do not need to buy any as snoring exercises may help fix the problem naturally.
In this article, we have elaborated on some of the best anti-snore and sleep apnea exercises for the tongue, mouth, and throat.
Causes and risk factors
In a nutshell, audible breathing and snoring occur when there is an obstruction to the air flowing through your mouth and nose. This produces noise that, in most cases, reduces the quality of sleep.
The main causes of snoring include:
- Loose throat and tongue-floor muscles
- Obstructed nasal airways
- A long uvula or soft palate
- Big tissues in the throat especially when overweight.
As a result of these, you are exposed to various risk factors that may or may not be very serious depending on other health factors.
The major health problem associated with habitual snoring is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – a potentially serious sleep disorder that needs medical attention. According to Mayo Clinic, this condition can lead to waking up choking and excessive daytime drowsiness.
Other risk factors include the potential strain on the heart, frequent waking up from sleep and generally poor quality of sleep.
Medical treatments can help treat sleep apnea. However, you can also resort to exercises to prevent and cure snoring. But can throat and tongue workouts cure sleep apnea and heavy snoring?
Do anti-snoring exercises work?
There have been studies that revealed that exercises led to significant improvement in sleep apnea and snoring symptoms in patients.
One particular study was carried out by Geraldo Lorenzi-Filho, MD, Ph.D. who says “We tested the effectiveness of oropharyngeal exercises to reduce snoring; the exercises significantly reduced snoring in our study group.”
Results proved that anti-snoring exercises work especially in patients suffering from mild obstructive sleep apnea and primary snoring problems. According to the study, there was a reduction by 59 percent in the power of snoring and a 36 percent reduction in snoring frequency.
This means that patients who suffer from poor quality sleep that has not developed into OSA can rely on tongue, mouth and throat workouts to prevent it from escalating into a more serious complication.
The following have been proposed as the best exercises to stop snoring and reduce sleep apnea.
Throat exercises to prevent snoring
In order to prevent sleep apnea, you must tighten your throat muscles to reduce floppiness. For most people, the problem is in the back of the mouth and throat. Here’s what to do to breathe better and quietly in the night and reduce the noise.
- Elevate the roof of your mouth at the back.
- Ensure the uvula is elevated as well.
- Say the vowel ‘A’ repeatedly.
- Do 20 reps 3 to 4 times a day.
Alternatively, open your mouth as wide as you can. Repeat the vowels (a-e-i-o-u) loudly for about 3 minutes. Do this three to four times a day to get better results faster.
Weak or loose tongue muscles contribute to snoring due to floppiness. Experts recommend that you work on strengthening these muscles to stop snoring immediately.
Although the tongue is known to be the strongest muscle in the human body, it can produce noise when sleeping when it becomes weak. Here are a few tongue exercises to cure your problem.
- Lift your tongue towards the roof of your mouth so that the tip is against the palate right behind your front upper teeth.
- Slide the tongue in a backward motion towards your throat.
- Make back and forward movements.
- Repeat 20 times three times a day to make it strong.
- Suck your tongue so that it presses against the roof of your mouth.
- Press the whole of it on the palate and hold for as long as you can.
- Release and relax.
- Repeat this 20 times, three times a day for fast results.
- Place the tip of your tongue on the inside of your lower front teeth.
- Force your tongue downwards against the floor of your mouth.
- Repeat about 15 times, 3 times a day.
Tongue yoga #4
This tongue exercise is likened to yoga moves and can also help reduce snoring at night. Here’s how to do it:
- Stick the tongue out.
- Stretch it so that it points slightly downwards.
- Try to touch the chin with it.
- Hold the tongue out for about 5 seconds and then relax.
- Repeat this yoga move about 10 times. You can add variations such as moving it from side to side, each move lasting 10 seconds.
Do the workout at least twice a day for faster results.
Mouth and breathing
Your mouth also contributes to snoring. It directly affects breathing, especially at night and is likely to be part of the snoring process. Strengthening your jaw and cheek muscles can go a long way in curing sleep apnea fast.
- Open your mouth as wide as you can.
- Hold for a few seconds.
- Now close it and then pucker your lips as if you are giving a kiss.
- Hold like this for about 15 seconds.
- Do 10 to 20 reps 3 times a day.
For the jaws
With jaw exercises, you can strengthen mouth and neck muscles to improve your condition drastically. Here’s what to do:
- Smile widely.
- Tighten your neck while in the smiling posture.
- Hold for about 10 seconds and then release and relax.
Repeat this as many times as you can to make your mouth muscles strong.
Anti-snoring exercises cannot be complete without attention to breathing. Here’s what to do to breathe better and quietly at night.
- Purse lips to leave a small space in the center.
- Inhale through them as if you are sipping through a straw.
- Make your lips flat and closed, then press them together.
- Swallow air slowly.
- Do 10 reps at least twice a day.
Here’s a video to help with the illustration of some of these procedures.
Note that other than doing these exercises to keep your oropharyngeal muscles in good shape, it is important that you try to lose weight as it is one of the major reasons for snoring in adults. Eat healthy meals, exercise your body on a regular basis to keep your weight in check. It will go a long way in helping you cure snoring.
The workouts can be done without any equipment and medical supervision, so they are definitely a good natural remedy for people suffering from sleep apnea.
- NIH Clinical Trials (July 10, 2012): Effects of Oropharyngeal Exercises on Patients With Primary Snore, Mild and Moderate Obstructive (EOE)
- CHEST Journal: Effects of Oropharyngeal Exercises on Snoring
- Image source: © American College of Chest Physicians/Vanessa Ieto