The most widely known and extremely effective way to combat sleep apnea is to use a CPAP machine. But, for many reasons (comfort, noise, issues when traveling) many patients are more interested in discovering a reliable CPAP alternative. A custom oral appliance from a sleep medicine expert, certain lifestyle changes, and oral exercises can all help. In this blog post, we’ll focus primarily on the latter of those three — oral exercises. Exercising the throat, tongue, and mouth can strengthen those little muscles and reduce your sleep apnea symptoms. Let’s talk about a few specific things you can do to get an effective oral workout.
You don’t actually have to yell for this one. Just open your mouth as if you are a tiger getting ready to roar. When your mouth is open very wide, stick out your tongue like you are trying to lick your tongue. Hold that position for five seconds, then repeat ten times. You may feel a little silly, but it’s worth it.
One study found that after three months of daily singing exercises, people with mild to moderate sleep apnea saw improvement in their symptoms. You can start your regimen by singing vowel sounds in a monotone. Be sure to sing nice and loud so you can get the greatest benefit from your vocal exercises.
A tongue slide is a simple exercise that can prevent the tongue from overrelaxing and causing airway obstruction. Just press your tongue against the roof of the mouth and slide it backward. You should do about 20 reps at a time.
Stretches for the Soft Palate
To stretch your soft palate, open your mouth wide and make an “ah” sound in the back of your throat for about 20 seconds. Then, close your mouth and rest five seconds before your next rep. Repeat 5 – 10 times to get the most benefit from the stretch.
You can also stretch the soft palate by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Blow the air out for a count of five, and repeat the exercise 10 times, three or four times each day.
Stretching out the jaw can relieve pressure on your breathing passages. With your mouth closed, arch your tongue against the mouth’s roof and slide it backward as far as it will go. Then, slowly open your mouth until you can no longer keep your tongue against the roof of the mouth. Repeat the exercise for about five minutes, twice every day.
You don’t have to go to the gym or put on your best spandex to get in a beneficial workout, especially if you’re giving your mouth some exercise! Use the movements described above to tone up your oral muscles and perhaps even relieve your sleep apnea symptoms.
About the Author
Dr. Kenneth Mogell, a board-certified specialist in sleep medicine with over 10 years of experience treating sleep breathing disorders is the practice’s founder and primary practitioner. The practice has four South Florida locations: Boca Raton, Melbourne, Vero Beach, and Jupiter. To learn more about Florida Dental Sleep Disorders and Dr. Kenneth Mogell, contact our team at 844-294-7559.