Finding an Alternative Approach to Relieve Sleep Apnea
Seeking relief from sleep apnea can be challenging, but our approach aims to make it easier. At the Center for Dental Sleep Health, Dr. Stephen Ura, our Nashua sleep dentist, provides comfortable oral appliances for effective treatment. In addition to these, we introduce an alternative method to manage your condition – incorporating daily mouth and throat exercises alongside CPAP or oral appliances. Research from 2009 demonstrates regular breathing exercises led to a remarkable 39 percent regression in symptoms.
These exercises address sleep apnea and alleviate secondary symptoms like headaches, heartburn, and TMJ pain. Take the first step towards better sleep – call us at (603) 237-1124 to begin your journey to comprehensive sleep apnea management.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when your airway becomes obstructed, causing you to stop breathing and wake up throughout the night. This happens when the throat muscles collapse or the tongue falls to the back of your throat while you’re sleeping.
Role of Mouth and Throat Exercises
One of the key objectives of mouth and throat exercises is to strengthen the muscles that play a vital role in maintaining an open airway during sleep. By targeting specific muscle groups, individuals can reduce the likelihood of airway collapse and mitigate the effects of sleep apnea.
The position of the tongue and jaw can impact the airflow during sleep. Certain exercises focus on improving tongue and jaw positioning, helping to keep the airway clear and reducing the chances of obstruction. These exercises contribute to overall muscle tone and stability.
In addition to addressing sleep apnea symptoms, mouth and throat exercises can promote general oral and throat health. Improved muscle tone in the oral and throat region can have positive effects on speech, swallowing, and overall comfort. By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you not only work towards managing sleep apnea but also contribute to the overall well-being of your oral and throat muscles.
Exercises for Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Practicing mouth and throat exercises, or myofunctional therapy, can strengthen these muscles and reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. If paired with additional treatment, your results may be even more effective. We’ll help you discover which exercises can strengthen your muscles and help you get a better night’s rest.
For this exercise, open your mouth as wide as possible, similar to a tiger roaring. Rather than yelling, stick your tongue out as far as you can, until it’s close to your chin.
Hold this position for five minutes, or as long as you can, to strengthen the muscles in the back of your throat.
Touch Nose & Chin
Here are two simple exercises — first, stick your tongue out and try to touch your nose. It’s likely you won’t be able to touch your nose with your tongue, but the exercise strengthens your jaw.
Next, try touching your chin with your tongue. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
This exercise engages the muscles around the lips and activates the muscles in the tongue and throat.
Purse your lips and produce a trilling sound by exhaling. Continue the trilling for 15 to 20 seconds and repeat this exercise five to 10 times.
Relieving Jaw Tension
Try this exercise to help relieve tension in your jaw. Keeping your mouth closed, touch the tip of your tongue to the roof and slide it back as far as you can.
Make sure your tongue is relaxed and slowly open your mouth while keeping your tongue on the roof. This will make it harder to hold your tongue, which will strengthen your muscles. Hold this position for five seconds and repeat for five sets.
Soft Palate Stretches
Your soft palate, or the roof of your mouth, also plays a role in sleep apnea symptoms. Some patients require soft palate surgery to treat their sleep apnea if their condition has become severe.
Begin this exercise by closing your mouth and breathing in through your nose. Keeping your mouth closed, exhale and push the air through your lips. This will cause your throat to push back and you’ll feel resistance.
An alternative stretch is to open your mouth as if you were saying “ah” and hold this position for 15 seconds. Repeat this for 10 sets, resting between each set.
This simple yet effective exercise aims to strengthen and tone the muscles in the throat, including the soft palate and surrounding structures.
Gargle with warm salt water to strengthen the muscles in the back of the throat. Perform gargling for 30 seconds to one minute, focusing on controlled and deliberate movements.
These stretches aim to improve the flexibility of the throat muscles, potentially reducing the risk of airway obstruction during sleep, a common concern in sleep apnea.
To do this, you should tilt your head back gently. Swallow while keeping your head tilted back to stretch the throat muscles. Hold the stretched position for five to 10 seconds and repeat 10 to 15 times
Incorporating Exercises into Daily Routine
It can be overwhelming when adding a new routine to your life. Here are some steps to help you:
- Establish a Routine: Designate a specific time each day for your mouth and throat exercises. Consistency is key to seeing positive results.
- Choose a c=Comfortable Environment: Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can focus on the exercises without distractions.
- Start Slow: Begin with a comfortable number of repetitions and increase over time. This allows your muscles to adapt and prevents overexertion.
- Monitor Progress: Keep track of your performance and any changes in your sleep patterns. Adjust the intensity of exercises as needed.
- Track Improvements: Note any positive changes in snoring, sleep quality, or daytime alertness.
- Consult Healthcare Professionals: If progress is slow or if you experience discomfort, consult with a healthcare professional, such as a sleep specialist or dentist, for guidance and potential adjustments to your exercise routine.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can mouth exercises help stop snoring and sleep apnea?
Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occur due to floppy airway muscles, poor tongue positioning, and breathing through the mouth during sleep. Mouth and throat exercises can tone up the airway and tongue muscles while promoting breathing through the nose. Regular throat and mouth exercises will add strength to your mouth and airway muscles.
Can sleep apnea be cured by exercising?
For adults with sleep apnea, a condition that stresses the heart and repeatedly interrupts sleep when breathing briefly slows or stops, an exercise program can be beneficial in reducing the patient’s sleep apnea symptoms. While incorporating exercise into your daily life is beneficial to both your sleep apnea symptoms and overall health, it’s not a cure. Most cases of sleep apnea can be managed with proper treatment combined with lifestyle changes.
How often do you need to do mouth exercise for sleep apnea?
Based on existing research, the best amount of time to do mouth exercises is at least 10 minutes per day for three months. After this amount of time, you should notice a difference in your sleep apnea symptoms. Most patients perform these exercises two to three times a day for maximum efficiency.
As with any exercise regime, it takes time to build your muscles. The good thing about these exercises is that they can be done almost anywhere.
Dr. Ura Can Help Relieve Your Sleep Apnea
If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, these effective mouth and throat exercises can be beneficial when paired with treatment. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Ura, call us at 603-237-1124 or simply fill out our online contact form. Don’t wait another day, improve your quality of sleep and your life today. We’re proud to provide services to the Nashua community as well as Nashua’s surrounding areas such as Hudson, Merrimack, and Milford, NH.