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Mouth & Throat Exercises To Stop Snoring And Improve OSA

If you snore, you’re not alone. Around half of all American adults snore. Fixing it is likely achievable, as research studies have shown that mouth and throat exercises help to manage mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.

This guide has been designed to provide comprehensive information that you find helpful relating to

  • The main cause of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea
  • How do mouth and throat exercises help you stop snoring?
  • Research-based scientific evidence
  • Mouth and Throat Exercise For Sleep Apnea
  • When should you speak to a doctor about snoring?
  • Frequently Asked questions

Why Do I Snore Or Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

cause of snoring

The leading cause of snoring is the narrowness of your upper airways. When you sleep, the space behind your tongue contracts, and the muscles around it become slack and relaxed. When you breathe in and out, the airflow causes those slack muscles to vibrate thus make a noise.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the slack muscles in the back of your throat partially or completely close your upper airways. It can disrupt your sleep and cause low oxygen saturation.

How Can Snoring Exercises Help You Stop Snoring?

Losing throat muscles strength is the main reason for snoring. Your lifestyle and age cause these muscles to lose their tone. Mouth and throat exercises can tone your muscles and thus help you stop snoring. These sleep apnea exercises are also known as “myofunctional therapy” and “oropharyngeal exercises”.  

  • Myo-functional Therapy: It is the neuromuscular toning of oral and facial muscles. This therapy is designed to target the muscles that are used to chew and swallow. It also helps you to breathe through your nose and supports the proper position of your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
  • Oropharyngeal Exercises: The region at the back of your mouth is called oropharynx. It includes the sides of your throat, back of the tongue, adenoids, tonsils, and soft palate (muscular portion at the back of the roof of your mouth). The repetitive exercise of oropharyngeal muscles strengthens them and improves chewing, swallowing, eating, snoring, sleeping, and talking.

Are There Any Research-Based Evidences Regarding These Exercises To Treat Snoring And OSA?

Yes, multiple research studies confirm the efficiency of mouth and throat exercises to treat obstructive sleep apnea.

  1. In one study, participants with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome performed 3 months of daily (approximately 30 min) oropharyngeal exercises (involving the tongue, soft palate, and lateral pharyngeal walls). The study concluded that patients who received oropharyngeal exercises had:
  • Improved oxygen saturation during sleep apnea episodes.
  • Improved sleep quality.
  • Reduced severity of sleep apnea.
  • Snored less loudly and less frequently.
  • Experienced less daytime sleepiness.

In short, oropharyngeal exercises are a promising treatment to reduce obstructive sleep apnea severity and symptoms.

  1. In another similar study, patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome received similar oropharyngeal exercises but performed in short sessions many times per day. The research concluded that the patients had:
  • Decreased their snoring frequency by 60%.
  • Improved their sleep quality.
  • Reduced severity of obstructive sleep apnea.
  1. A literature survey of eleven research studies, in which the patients with obstructive sleep apnea received orofacial myofunctional therapy concluded that:
  • It is highly effective in reducing the severity of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring.
  • It improves the quality of sleep.
  • It is also useful for the treatment of children with residual apnea.
  • It enhances adherence to CPAP therapy in adults.
  • It reduces the symptoms of daytime sleepiness and increases oxygen saturation during sleep apnea episodes.
  1. In a research study on chronic snorers, participants performed singing exercises for 3 months (twenty minutes a day). The study concluded that there was a notable reduction in their snoring.

Which Exercises Can Help You Stop Snoring?

The goal of mouth and throat exercise is to strengthen those muscles that become floppy and relaxed in sleep apnea patients. These include your tongue, throat, and facial muscles. Research studies suggest that these muscles can be toned through specific exercise training techniques.

Linking The Cause Of Your Snoring To The Treatment

Type of Snoring What it May Indicate? Recommended Exercises
Closed Mouth Snoring
Tongue position problems
Tongue Exercises
Open Mouth Snoring
Problems of throat tissues
Throat Exercises
Snoring when sleeping on the back
Positional Snoring
Lifestyle changes and improved sleep habits
Snoring in all sleep positions
Severe sleep apnea
Comprehensive treatment

Tongue Exercises

Exercise# 1 (Tongue Sliding)

Put the tip of your tongue behind the back of your front teethes. Slide your tongue in the backward direction while keeping the tip moving along the roof of your mouth. Repeat 5-10 times.

Exercise# 2 (Tongue Stretching)

Take out your tongue as far as you can. Aim to touch your chin with your tongue while looking towards the ceiling. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

Exercise# 3 (Tongue Pressing Up)

Stick your tongue towards the roof of your mouth in the upward direction and push your whole tongue against it. Hold for 10 seconds in this position. Repeat 5 times.

Exercise# 3 (Tongue Pressing down)

Put the tip of your tongue upon your lower front teeth. Press the back of your tongue flat against the floor of your mouth. Retain this pose for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.

Tongue Exercise

Exercise Type Purpose
Tongue Sliding
Strengthens tongue and throat muscles
Tongue Stretching
Enhances tongue strength
Tongue Pressing Up
Develops soft palate & tongue tone and strength
Tongue Pressing Down
Develops soft palate & tongue tone and strength

Facial Exercises

Exercise#1 (Cheek Stretching)

Lightly pull your right cheek in an outward direction with the help of your hooked finger. Now use your facial muscles to pull your cheek back in the inward direction. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Exercise#2 (Mouth Closing)

Firmly close your mouth by squeezing your lips. Then open your mouth by relaxing your lips and jaws. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise#3 (Jaws Stretching)

Open your mouth then lightly move your lower jaws to the right and hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat 5 times on each side.

Facial Exercise

Exercise Type Purpose
Cheek Stretching
Helps in the closure of mouth while breathing
Mouth Closing
Tones the facial muscles and enhances their strength
Jaws Stretching
Tones jaw muscles and enhance their strength

Other Exercise For Sleep Apnea

singing

Singing

Singing on a daily basis reduces the severity of snoring naturally. When singing, aim to focus on repeating and powerfully pronouncing individual sounds rather than just singing normal lyrics.

Pronouncing Vowel Sounds

Repeating vowel sounds can help tone your throat muscles as saying vowel sounds involves the muscles on your throat. Loudly repeat vowel sounds 10 to 20 times in a row.

Breathing through Nose

Practice breathing through your nose while your mouth is closed and your jaws are relaxed. Then, close your one nostril by using your finger or knuckle and breathe through your other open nostril. Repeat this breathing exercise for sleep apnea 10 times while alternating between nostrils.

Other Exercises For Sleep Apnea

Exercise Type Purpose
Singing
Activates throat and mouth muscles
Pronouncing Vowel Sounds
Strengthen throat muscles
Breathing through Nose
Improves nasal breathing thus stabilize airways while sleep

When Should You Speak To A Doctor About Snoring?

Slight snoring every once in a while is common for most people and is not serious. Snoring that happens more than three nights per week can be an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea. If goes undiagnosed or untreated, it can have serious health complications.

You should immediately talk to your doctor if you have any of the below-listed risk factors:

  • Notable daytime fatigue and sleepiness
  • High blood pressure
  • Recent weight gain or obesity
  • Snoring that similar to choking, gasping, or snorting
  • Morning headaches
  • Slowed thinking, mood swings, and reduced attention

Final Words from Well Aware System Experts

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Any Side Effects Of Mouth And Throat Exercises?

No. There is virtually no physical downside. However, health risks could arise if people prefer mouth exercise while skipping other prescribed treatments for obstructive sleep apnea.

Can These Exercises Stop Snoring Permanently?

Research studies demonstrated that mouth and throat exercise significantly reduced snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea. However, no study clearly stated that these therapies could permanently stop your snoring.

How Long Is This Therapy Required To See A Significant Reduction In Snoring?

Mouth and throat exercise therapies would not show you immediate effects. Expect at least three months to see a significant reduction in snoring.

Who Can Benefit From Exercise Therapy For Snoring?

People with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea have the most benefit from myofunctional therapy along with other recommended treatments such as CPAP. Oropharyngeal exercise therapy may be less efficient for people whose snoring is related to alcohol and sedatives that cause relaxation of muscles in the back of the throat.