Did You Know These Mouth Exercises Can Help Ease Snoring?
Snoring affects a large part of our population. It is estimated that 45% of adults snore occasionally, while 25% snore more regularly. Of course it’s not only the individual who snores that is impacted; snoring often disrupts the sleep of other members of the household. In some cases, snoring is so bad that a partner may choose to sleep in a separate room. There have been studies showing that snorers wake up their partners as much as they wake up themselves and that emotional tensions can be higher in relationships where snoring is frequent.
Naturally, most people want to find a solution to their snoring. Even if it doesn’t bother you much, snoring shouldn’t be ignored. In cases of more moderate or severe snoring it is vital to seek professional help to determine and treat the root causes. Snoring can be an indicator of deeper health issues such as obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, or a structural issue with your mouth, nose, or throat. Some lifestyle tips to reduce snoring include: losing weight (if you are overweight), avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, sleeping on your side, and practicing good sleep hygiene.
Additionally, there are specific mouth and throat exercises one can do to ease mild snoring. These exercises, which are backed by research to improve snoring, help make it less frequent and less noisy; they are referred to as “myofunctional therapy” or “oropharyngeal exercises” and have also been shown to improve mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. It’s important to note that these mouth exercises, much like any workout, require commitment for desired results.
In order to understand why these exercises are helpful, let’s dig into the structural issues that cause snoring. When one sleeps, the space behind the tongue narrows, and the tissue surrounding it becomes relaxed. As air gets forced through when we subconsciously breathe in and out, the tissue flutters; snoring occurs when the airflow causes the tissue to vibrate. In cases where these muscles relax to the point of nearly or completely closing off the airway, obstructive sleep apnea occurs; this causes disrupted sleep as well as lower oxygen levels.
Researchers have discovered that performing consistent oropharyngeal exercises while one is awake can help prevent the tissue from becoming excessively floppy during sleep.
In order to experience the benefits of these exercises, it is recommended to perform them for 10 minutes a day. Most research shows improvement in snoring after 3 months. The exercises are deemed very safe, are convenient in that you can practice them anywhere, and have the potential to improve your sleep. Here is a video resource explaining how to do some of these exercises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0gJwO25PVY