Tongue and Throat Exercises to Help You With Sleep Apnea & Snoring

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Are you on the verge of being kicked out of the bedroom for your snoring habit?

You might have tried a variety of solutions without relief, but have you considered doing some simple mouth exercises to help with the problem?

Don’t worry; there’s no gym membership required. You can do all of these from the comfort of your home without even breaking a sweat!

If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, the situation is even more critical than a simple noise disturbance that’s keeping your partner awake. People with sleep apnea experience multiple instances every night where they stop breathing! Luckily, the human body will trigger the person awake, but these constant sleep disruptions cause other health challenges.

Over the years, there have been several types of mouth exercises to help sleep apnea and snoring. Below is a list of our favorites.

How Do Mouth Exercises Work?

Did you know that snoring can increase in volume and frequency with age? We know what you’re thinking – there’s not a lot of good news when it comes to getting older.

However, a new field of study, called oral myofunctional therapy, could be the answer to your snoring and sleep apnea woes. The idea is to exercise your mouth and jaw to strengthen the surrounding muscles. It’ll take some time to see results, but after about three months, you’re likely to notice a decrease in snoring and sleep apnea symptoms.

Again, you can do all these exercises in your home, and they should take only about ten to fifteen minutes a day.

Sleep Apnea Exercises

Throat Tiger Yell

Have you heard a tiger yell? Neither have we. This exercise is totally silent.

Here’s what to do: open your mouth as wide as you can as if you’re about to scream. Hold the position for five minutes and do your best to resist the urge to yawn. If you do the throat tiger yell daily, it will make the muscles in the back of your throat stronger.

Tongue Slide

This tongue movement works to strengthen your jaw. You start by sticking your tongue out, and then you stretch it toward your nose, making your best attempt at touching your tongue to your nose. Very few people can actually make contact, but it’s fun to try. And, if you’re one of the few people who have this particular kind of tongue, you’ve just learned a new party trick.

The trick is to do this drill enough times to make your jaw stronger. Hold each “rep” for a few seconds, relax, and then repeat ten times.

Soft Palate Blowing

The palate, also known as the roof of the mouth, also needs a bit of conditioning to help sleep apnea and snoring. Unlike the other two exercises mentioned above, this one involves breathing only.

You can do this up to four times a day, especially since it’s not as comedic-looking as the others.

To begin, breathe through your nose. Close your mouth and then push the air out through your lips. When you feel resistance in the back of your throat, you know it’s working.

Jaw Tension

This exercise is simple enough and also doesn’t involve much in the way of face acrobatics. Start with your mouth closed and the tip of your tongue touching the roof. Slowly begin opening your mouth but keep your tongue in contact with the roof for as long as possible. Eventually, your mouth will be fully open. Repeat nine more times, for a total of 10 reps.

Playing Didgeridoo

Never heard of a didgeridoo before? You’re not alone. It’s a rather large wind instrument developed more than a thousand years about the indigenous people in Australia. It’s still widely used, so you can easily find one to practice on. Prices range from ninety-nine to over two thousand dollars.

Playing the didgeridoo helps strengthen the muscles in the upper airways, mostly because as you play, you’re exhaling and puffing out your cheeks. The sound the instrument makes is kind of like a blend of buzzing and vibrating. Enjoy!

man playing didgeridoo and guitar

Exercises to Help You Snore Less

Tongue Slide

You’ve seen this name before (in the section above), but when it comes to ceasing snoring, this exercise is different than the one we discussed earlier. Start by placing the tip of your tongue at the back of your front teeth. Then slide it all the way back toward your throat. The curling motion strengthens the muscles at the base of the throat and neck.

Roof Smoosh

Think of your palate (roof of the mouth) as a suction and make it grip your tongue until there’s no space or air in between. Hold each rep for a count of three and repeat twenty times.

Tongue Carpet

The name sounds silly, but this exercise consists of transforming your tongue to a “carpet” that lines the bottom of your mouth. Begin by pressing your tongue to the back of your bottom teeth. Then force the tongue down to the bottom of the mouth while keeping it in contact with your teeth.

Say Ahhhhh!

Just like the doctor says when you’re there for a health physical, open your mouth, tilt your head back slightly and give a long and slightly exaggerated “ahhhhh.” For full effect, repeat twenty times.

Cheek Push

Put your right index finger inside your mouth and press it against your inner left cheek. Repeat ten times. Switch sides.

Chew Evenly

This exercise involves eating, one of humanity’s favorite activities! When you eat, keep in mind what we tend to favor one side of our mouths more than the other, which can prevent one side from getting its daily workout. Therefore, remember to chew evenly on both sides. You may need to remind yourself to switch sides.

An added benefit is that by chewing evenly, you also ensure that your teeth are being used equally on both sides of your mouth, too!

pretty woman is eating a cookie

Other Alternatives

Weight Loss

Even being just a few pounds overweight could affect snoring and sleep apnea. The reason is that the extra weight in the neck and throat can collapse your airways, which causes snoring and sleep apnea.

Positional Therapy

This approach involves identifying muscle imbalances and then training the body to keep the muscles in balance. It could include body movement, but the easiest solution is to merely reposition your body into a pose that prevents snoring. Sleeping propped up on a wedge pillow, using an adjustable bed, or lying on your side are all effective measures.

Avoid Alcohol Intake

Alcohol affects our body in a lot of different ways, including interfering with sleep. It can cause snoring by causing the body to fall into a deeper sleep than normal. When this happens, your body is less aware of its functions and may not alert itself to stop snoring.

Avoid Smoking

Smoking causes congestion, which is another leading cause of snoring. In addition to congestion, smoking cigarettes also creates inflammation in the throat, which means there’s less room for air to pass through.

Use a Nasal Strip

A nasal strip is an inexpensive and effective way to stop snoring in its tracks. These handy devices work to lift and open nasal passages. Increased air flow allows for better breathing and a reduced risk of snoring.

Try a New Mattress

While your mattress wouldn’t be the root cause of sleep apnea, it certainly could aggravate it, especially you’re unable to rest comfortably in the positions that health professionals recommend to help alleviate this condition and its effects. An old and lumpy mattress usually does not optimize spine alignment, and good posture is crucial for sleep health and could potentially cut down on snoring.

Check out our top picks for people with sleep apnea here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are tongue and throat exercises effective?

Yes, they are effective. However, the results are not immediate. Expect approximately three months to see significant improvement.

woman is doing some tongue and throat exercises

Can these stop snoring permanently?

Assuming that you continue the exercises after solving the initial problem, then yes, these repetitions can stop snoring permanently. You may be able to reduce the frequency and number of reps. However, just like the gym, if you want a lifetime of positive results, you have to put in a lifetime of effort.

Can breathing exercises help?

Breathing exercises that help strengthen the mouth, jaw, and throat can help. However, simple deep breathing won’t achieve the same results.

Conclusion


Most of us are looking for a quick fix, and while these exercises are invaluable in solving snoring, they won’t work immediately. As you work through these instructions, you may also want to try the recommended lifestyle changes (also suggested in this article) to get immediate relief.

Sources and References:

  1. These Mouth Exercises May Help Stop Snoring – sleepfoundation.org
  2. Upper airway muscle exercises outcome in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome – sciencedirect.com
  3. Tongue Exercises May Ease Sleep Apnea – webmd.com

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Author: Sarah Cummings

I think we’re all nerds, but I’m probably the biggest nerd in the group. Put me nose deep in a spreadsheet and I'll start smiling.

I love to travel, hang out with positive people, and love cycling when I find the time!

My hope is that everyone who visits our site will walk away with a fresh perspective. I think too many people in society downplay the importance of sleep. In my opinion, it’s the difference between an average life and an amazing one.

1 Comment
  1. Reply
    muce September 20, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    very good

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