Mouth & Throat Exercises
Finding Relief for Sleep Apnea Holistically
Have you been diagnosed with sleep apnea? If so, seeking treatment as soon as possible will save you from the long term effects of the condition.
There are multiple treatment methods available for sleep apnea, so it’s crucial to find the one that best fits your lifestyle. Typically, your dentist might suggest traditional treatment methods such as CPAP or oral appliances, but some people prefer to treat their condition holistically by practicing mouth and throat exercises.
While these exercises may be enough to treat your sleep apnea alone, some people may choose to use these techniques in addition to using CPAP or oral appliances. Studies have shown that these exercises can reduce the severity of your condition.
How Does This Alternative Treatment Work?
The purpose of mouth and throat exercises, also known as myofunctional therapy, is to strengthen these muscles and reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. They’re also specifically designed to focus on the oropharynx, a part of the pharynx, which includes the back of your throat and tongue.
The exercises listed below will drastically improve these muscles and reduce your symptoms if they’re practiced for 30 minutes each day.
Exercises To Strengthen Your Muscles
This exercise is called the tiger yell because it requires you to open your mouth as wide a possible as if you were going to roar like a tiger. Instead of yelling, you’ll stick your tongue out as far as you can until you can touch your chin with it.
The tiger yell exercise strengthens your uvula and throat muscles. It’s recommended that you hold it for five seconds and complete 10 sets.
Strengthening your tongue will prevent it from falling to the back of your throat while you sleep. To exercise your tongue, Dr. Reece suggests sticking out your tongue and trying to touch it to your nose. Hold this for five seconds and repeat for 10 sets as well.
Soft Palate Stretches and Breathing
The roof of your mouth, or the soft palate, can also play a part in sleep apnea symptoms. In fact, some people require soft palate surgery to treat their sleep apnea if their condition is severe enough.
To reduce sleep apnea and avoid possible surgery, we recommend practicing the following exercises:
- Open your mouth as if you were saying ‘ah’, and hold this position for 20 seconds. Repeat this for 10 sets, resting between each set.
- Breathe in through your nose and exhale through closed lips. This will cause your throat to push back slightly.
Relieving Tension in the Jaw
Many patients with sleep apnea experience jaw pain, making their symptoms worse. On the other hand, people who suffer from jaw deformities or TMJ are more likely to develop sleep apnea.
To relieve this tension, try the following exercise. With your mouth closed and your tongue relaxed, reach your tongue up until it reaches the roof of your mouth and slide the of your tongue as far back as you can.
After pushing your tongue back as far as possible, slowly open your mouth. This will make it hard to hold your tongue against the roof of your mouth, resulting in the strengthening of your muscles. Hold this position for five to ten seconds and repeat for five minutes.
Contact Dr. Reece To Find Sleep Apnea Relief
If you’re suffering from sleep apnea and are looking for an alternative to CPAP seeking additional treatment, these exercises will be beneficial.
Contact our staff at (979) 846-6515 to get more information about sleep apnea and possible treatment methods.