Mouth and Throat Exercises to Stop Snoring

Many people snore, producing snorting, whistling, or rumbling sounds while sleeping. About 44% of people aged 30 to 60 snore regularly, and almost everyone experiences occasional snoring.

According to some research, people with mild snoring can perform mouth and throat exercises to help strengthen the muscles around the airway, reducing the frequency and intensity of snoring. These exercises can also improve mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

As with any therapeutic or workout routine, the key is to be consistent. When done regularly, many people with mild snoring  or OSA have reported less snoring and better sleep quality. 

Can Mouth and Throat Exercises Really Help Stop Snoring?

Some studies suggest that regular practice of mouth and throat exercises can strengthen muscles in the mouth, face, and throat, and promote proper tongue posture and breathing. These exercises, known as myofunctional therapy, may reduce mild to moderate snoring.

Myofunctional therapy is often taught by trained therapists and focuses on toning airway and tongue muscles while encouraging nasal breathing. The oropharynx, comprising the back of the mouth, including the back of the tongue, throat sides, tonsils, adenoids, and soft palate, is the targeted area.

However, it’s important to note that myofunctional therapy should not replace other doctor-prescribed treatments for sleep apnea, as these exercises are not effective for treating OSA.

While more research is needed to fully understand the benefits of myofunctional therapy, health professionals recommend practicing upper airway exercises for 8 to 30 minutes daily for at least three months. Results may take time to manifest, so patience is key, similar to other types of exercises.

Exercises That Can Help with Snoring and Sleep Apnea

There are some specific exercises that can contribute significantly to reducing snoring and alleviating sleep apnea symptoms. You can discuss with your healthcare providers to see which one fits you. 

Tongue Exercises

The tongue plays a crucial role in snoring, and certain exercises can enhance its muscle strength and posture.

Tongue Slide

  1. Position the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
  2. Slide your tongue backward.
  3. Repeat for three minutes daily.

Tongue Aerobics

  1. Stick out your tongue.
  2. Reach up, hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Reach down, hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Push left, hold for 10 seconds.
  5. Push right, hold for 10 seconds.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Tongue Push Up

  1. Place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
  2. Open and close your lower jaw while keeping your tongue in contact.
  3. Repeat at least 10 times.

Tongue Stretch

  1. Open your mouth and stick your tongue straight out.
  2. Hold for 10-15 seconds, repeating five times.

Face Exercises

Strengthening facial muscles can contribute to keeping the mouth closed during sleep and improving the upper airway’s muscle tone.

Lip Purse

  1. Purse or pucker your lips as if whistling or kissing.
  2. Hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Relax your mouth.

Cheek Hook

  1. Place your index finger inside one cheek.
  2. Pull the cheek outward while contracting the muscles.
  3. Repeat on the other cheek.

Side-to-Side Jaw Movement

  1. Open your mouth wide.
  2. Move your jaw from side-to-side, adjusting the opening.
  3. Repeat several times.

Open and Close

  1. Close your mouth tightly over your teeth.
  2. Slowly open your mouth, relaxing jaw and face muscles.
  3. Repeat 10 times.

Button Hold

  1. Tie a button to a string and place it in your mouth.
  2. Close your lips tightly and pull the string without moving the button.
  3. Repeat 10 times.

Nasal Breathing Exercises

Encouraging nasal breathing can improve muscle tone in the mouth and throat, preventing the need for mouth breathing during sleep.

Nostril Breathing

  1. Close your lips.
  2. Push your right nostril closed and breathe in through the left.
  3. Push your left nostril closed and breathe out through the right.
  4. Repeat five times for each nostril.

Balloon Breathing

  1. Place the open end of a deflated balloon in your mouth.
  2. Inhale through your nose and exhale forcefully through your mouth to inflate the balloon.
  3. Repeat five times.

Throat Exercises

Exercising throat muscles through vocal exercises can contribute to reducing snoring and managing mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Vowel Pronunciation

  1. Enunciate vowels (a-e-i-o-u) daily, exaggerating each sound.
  2. Draw out each vowel to last several seconds.

Daily Singing Exercises

  1. Singing regularly for at least three months may reduce snoring frequency, severity, and loudness.
  2. Limited research suggests improvement in mild to moderate OSA symptoms.

When Should You See a Doctor About Snoring?

If snoring is messing with your sleep or your partner’s, talk to your doctor. Let them know if you have any of these risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea:

  • High blood pressure
  • Morning headaches
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Weight gain or obesity
  • Loud, persistent snoring
  • Gasping or choking for air during sleep

Your doctor may ask about your health history and sleep patterns, possibly suggesting a specialist or a sleep study to explore any underlying issues. They might also consider myofunctional therapy and refer you accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who Can Benefit From Mouth and Throat Exercises for Snoring?

These exercises are beneficial for people who snore or have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, as extensively studied. For those with sleep apnea, myofunctional therapy works best when combined with a CPAP machine or post-surgery.

However, oropharyngeal exercises may be less effective if snoring is related to alcohol or sedative use. You should also recognize that, even for mild snoring, these exercises may not always be effective, as individual factors such as mouth, tongue, and throat size and shape can influence their efficacy. 

2. How Often Do You Need To Do Mouth Exercises for Snoring or Sleep Apnea?

To see results in reducing snoring or obstructive sleep apnea, it’s recommended to perform mouth exercises for at least 10 minutes daily over three months, based on existing research.

Most people incorporate these exercises two to three times daily. Like any workout, building muscle takes time, so immediate results shouldn’t be expected.

3. Are There Side Effects to Mouth and Throat Exercises?

Myofunctional therapy may seem tedious or silly to some, but there are virtually no physical downsides.

However, using mouth exercises as a substitute for prescribed snoring and sleep apnea treatments could pose health risks.You should consult with a doctor before initiating or stopping any therapy for snoring or sleep apnea. 

Need professional help to diagnose and address your sleep problems? Schedule an online consultation with sleep specialist Dr. John Williams.

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