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Exercises for Sleep Apnea: Breathe Better Tonight

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a woman happily waking up from a good sleep

Exercises for sleep apnea have become a popular choice for people seeking alternative or supplementary treatments in comparison to conventional CPAP therapy. 

Obstructive sleep apnea, a common disorder causing disrupted breathing during sleep and often resulting in poor quality of rest and daytime drowsiness, has prompted attention towards exercises as an alternative or supplemental treatment to CPAP therapy. 

Why Do We Snore?

Snoring is a common issue that affects many people during sleep. But what causes this annoying sound? When you sleep, there’s a narrowing of the space between the tongue and the tissue here becomes relaxed. When air gets forced through as we breathe in and out, the tissue flutters, making noise.

Exercises That Can Help With Snoring and Sleep Apnea

To improve snoring and sleep apnea, certain exercises can be incorporated into your daily routine to target the muscles in your tongue, face, and throat. 

Tongue Exercises

Strengthening the muscles of the tongue and improving its posture can significantly reduce snoring.

  • Tongue Slide: Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your upper front teeth. Slowly slide it back as far as possible without straining. Repeat this movement 10 times.
  • Tongue Aerobics: Move your tongue from side to side, touching each corner of your mouth while keeping it pressed against the lower front teeth. Do this for about two minutes per day.
  • Tongue Push-Up: Press the entire surface of your tongue against the roof of your mouth while keeping it flat. Hold for five seconds before relaxing; repeat ten times.
  • Tongue Stretch: Stick out your tongue as far as possible without strain or discomfort; hold for three seconds then relax; repeat ten times.

Face Exercises

Movements that exercise facial muscles can help keep mouths closed during sleep and improve muscle strength in the upper airway area:

  • Purse lips tightly together like blowing a kiss; hold for five seconds then relax; repeat ten times.
  • Cheek Hook: Place index fingers inside cheeks near molars, gently pulling cheeks outward while resisting with cheek muscles; hold for five seconds then relax; repeat ten times.
  • Side-to-Side Jaw Movement: Move your jaw from side to side, keeping teeth slightly apart. Repeat this movement for about two minutes per day.
  • Open and Close: Open your mouth as wide as possible without straining, then close it slowly. Do this ten times.
  • Button Hold: Place a button between upper and lower front teeth; hold in place using only lip pressure (not biting) for one minute before relaxing; repeat three times daily.

Nasal Breathing Exercises

Breathing through the nose can help maintain an open airway during sleep. These exercises for sleep apnea improve strength and muscle tone in the mouth and throat area:

  • Inhale deeply through both nostrils while keeping your mouth closed; exhale slowly through pursed lips like you’re blowing out a candle. Repeat ten times daily.
  • Balloon Breathing: Inflate a balloon by taking deep breaths through your nose and exhaling forcefully into the balloon without removing it from your lips between breaths until fully inflated; deflate the balloon slowly by releasing air gradually when done.

Throat Exercises

Singing or pronouncing vowel sounds can exercise throat muscles effectively:

  • Pronounce vowels (A-E-I-O-U) clearly, exaggerating each sound while holding them for several seconds each time. Practice daily to strengthen throat muscles over time.
  • Singing Exercises: Sing regularly over three months to reduce snoring frequency, severity, and loudness of snoring, and improve mild to moderate symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. 

Conclusion

Snoring and sleep apnea can be major hindrances to a good night’s rest. Nevertheless, certain exercises for sleep apnea may be beneficial in alleviating these sleep issues. By understanding why we snore and implementing certain exercises into our daily routines, we can improve the quality of our sleep and reduce the risk of health complications associated with sleep apnea.

Speak to one of our healthcare professionals today, if you have questions about which exercises may be most beneficial for your snoring or sleep apnea. Our team of experts here at Sleep & CPAP Center are here to help.