About 45 percent1 of adults occasionally snore, while 25 percent are regular snorers.
Snoring may be common, but treating it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. You may have tried multiple remedies with no success, but if you’re still on the lookout for snoring relief, there is another method that could be the answer you need.
Certain mouth exercises for sleep apnea that are simple enough to do on your own could also minimize snoring. In this article, we’ll share different exercises for sleep apnea and snoring recommended by healthcare providers2, along with other tips and tricks so that you and your partner can both have a good night’s rest.
Why Do We Have Sleep Apnea and Snore?
Obstructive sleep apnea3 (OSA) is the most common form of this disorder.
When an individual develops OSA, parts of the mouth like the soft tissue and tongue relax while they’re asleep. This causes those areas to collapse, cutting off the airways.
Eventually, the brain senses that it’s not getting enough oxygen and alerts you awake to catch your breath. When this happens, experts say the person may snort, choke, or gasp for air. These episodes will then happen periodically throughout the night. Snoring is one of the symptoms of sleep apnea. However, someone can still be a snorer and not have this disorder.
If you snore, this may be because you have sleep apnea4. Even though snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, just because someone snores, this doesn’t necessarily mean they have sleep apnea. According to Yale Medicine, the following are all reasons why someone may snore outside of just sleep apnea4:
- Excess weight
- Weak tongue and throat muscles
- Deviated nasal septum
- Nasal congestion from a cold, allergies, or sinus infection
- Mouth anatomy
- Sleeping on your back
Myofunctional Therapy for Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Myofunctional therapy5 refers to an exercise program that targets problems with the face and mouth known as Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs). Many OMD cases result in inadequate breathing through the nose or mouth.
According to the Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy, research has found that this form of treatment has successfully reduced snoring and sleep apnea symptoms. The goal is to have these exercises train muscles in the tongue, throat, and face to reduce airway obstruction.5
Sleep Apnea Exercises
The following exercises for sleep apnea are ones you might encounter as a part of your myofunctional therapy regimen.
Throat Tiger Yell
Starting off, we have the Tiger Yell exercise, which is aimed at strengthening the throat muscles. Contrary to its title, this exercise is silent. To start, open your mouth as wide as you can as if you’re about to scream. Then, stick your tongue out as you try to touch your chin with the tongue. Hold this for five seconds, and then repeat the exercise a total of 10 times.2
The tongue slide is another exercise you can do. You begin by pushing your tongue against the roof of your mouth. You’ll then slide your tongue backward, repeating the exercise 20 times.2
Soft Palate Stretch
To do this, open your mouth as wide as you can. Then, say “ahhh” for 20 seconds. After that, close your mouth and hold for five seconds. You then repeat the exercise for about five to 10 seconds.2
Jaw Tension Release
Start with your mouth closed and your tongue relaxed. Then, have your tongue arched up against the roof of your mouth. From there, move the tip of the tongue as far back as you can. As you hold that position, slowly open your mouth to the point that the tongue can’t remain there. Do this exercise twice every day.2
Trying to manage your snoring and sleep apnea symptoms can also involve some singing. This exercise is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is sing as loudly as you can. The goal of this is to strengthen your soft palate and upper throat muscles.2
Additional Snoring and Sleep Apnea Remedies
Extra weight in the neck and throat can collapse your airways, which can lead to snoring and sleep apnea. Therefore, losing weight could improve your symptoms.
This approach involves training people to rest on their side, the optimum sleep position for those with an apnea disorder. Research6 reveals this treatment can be effective for those with POSA, which is when apnea symptoms are brought on by the position you sleep in.
You should rethink having that glass of wine before bed. Consuming too much alcohol7 can cause you to snore because it relaxes the muscles in your throat, which can result in airway obstruction.
Researchers have found a strong prevalence of smokers with OSA8, and they say that smoking is associated with snoring. They hypothesize that smoking causes upper airway inflammation, which is why smokers are more prone to OSA symptoms, including snoring.
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is one of the most popular forms of treatment for OSA. These devices are made to supply you with air pressure with the use of a mask.
Check Out Our Guide: Best CPAP Machine
In addition to exercises for the mouth, you may also consider using oral devices that are designed to help open up your throat while you’re at rest. The best way to access one of these appliances is to contact your dentist who can make one that’s properly fitted for you.
Learn More: Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea
Use a Nasal Strip
Nasal strips are an inexpensive way to combat snoring. These handy devices work to lift and open the nasal passages. The increased airflow allows for better breathing and a reduced risk of snoring.
Try a New Mattress
A mattress may not be the cause of your snoring, but it could help. We covered earlier that side sleeping is recommended for those with sleep apnea, and an uncomfortable bed could make it hard to rest that way. Consider investing in a quality mattress that could make it easier to adjust your sleep position and leave you less likely to snore at night.
In more extreme cases, surgery may be required. However, this is usually considered after all other options have been exhausted.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are snoring exercises effective?
Yes, it’s possible that snoring exercises can be effective. A 2015 study9 of 39 patients who snore found that three months of oropharyngeal exercises, which refers to the part of the throat at the back of the mouth, lead to a “significant decrease in the snore index.” Therefore, the researchers concluded that these exercises were objectively successful at minimizing snoring.
How often should you do snoring exercises?
The Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy says you should do these workouts daily until the issue is corrected. They add that the length of treatment can vary, but typically lasts 6-12 months.5
Is snoring dangerous?
According to the Mayo Clinic, snoring could be a sign of an underlying condition, including OSA. Sleep apnea can become dangerous when left untreated, as it increases your risk of accidents and cardiovascular problems.7
Find Out More: Can Sleep Apnea Kill You?
Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.
- “Why Do People Snore? Answers for Better Health”, Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed January 22, 2024.
- “How Exercise Helps in Sleep Apnea Treatment?”. Oklahoma Otolaryngology Associates. 2020.
- “Sleep Apnea”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified April 3, 2023.
- “Snoring”. Yale Medicine. Webpage accessed February 12, 2024.
- “What Is Myofunctional Therapy?”. Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy. Webpage accessed February 12, 2024.
- De Vries, Grietje E., et al. “Usage of Positional Therapy in Adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea”. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2015.
- “Snoring”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified December 22, 2017.
- Ioannidou, Despoina., et al. “Smoking and Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Is There An Association between These Cardiometabolic Risk Factors?—Gender Analysis”. Medicina. 2021.
- Ieto, Vanessa., et al. “Effects of Oropharyngeal Exercises on Snoring: A Randomized Trial”. Chest. 2015.