Singing Exercises for Sleep Apnea

Singing exercises for sleep apnoea.  Really!  Who would have thought? Could singing stop snoring? Could singing help sleep apnoea?

Doctors are now suggesting vocal exercises could be the answer to a good night’s sleepThe Mail Online website reported that after  a recent study in which it was found that people, who followed a daily exercise programme of singing saw vast improvements in their snoring, so to with their sleep apnoea.

Singing Exercises for Sleep Apnea

The news is based on a trial comparing the effects of daily singing exercises compared to a group of persons that did not sing.   They included people with a history of snoring.  This group also included those with mild to moderate sleep apnoea.  The outcome?

The study found that the group who did the singing exercises for three months reported less daytime tiredness and less frequent snoring than those who didn’t sing.

Oropharyngeal exercises for sleep apnoea

Not just sing can help.  Other exercises can contribute to improvement of sleep apnoea.  Eight minutes of oropharyngeal exercises performed three times a day significantly reduced snoring.

Nasopharyngeal exercises include the following:

  • Push the tip of tongue against the hard palate and slide tongue backward 20 times.
  • Suck the entire tongue up against your palate 20 times.
  • Force the back of tongue against the floor of mouth while touching the tip of tongue on your bottom incisors 20 times.
  • Elevate the soft palate and uvula. The uvula is the teardrop-shaped piece of soft tissue that hangs down the back of your throat. while intermittently saying “A” 20 times.

How Can Oropharyngeal Exercises Alleviate Sleep Apnoea Symptoms?

As has been discussed so far, singing can help reduce sleep apnoea symptoms.  Additional exercises called Oropharyngeal Exercises are oral exercises to reduce sleep apnoea symptoms by strengthening the muscles of the throat and airway.

Since sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder in which the relaxed muscles of the airway expand and block the flow of air, strengthening those muscles will help you maintain more tension in that area during sleep, helping to keep your airways open.

Several studies have shown the connection between oral exercises for sleep apnoea symptom reduction.  The results of another study, for example, found that regular brisk walking and also weight training cut the severity of a suffers sleep apnoea symptoms by one quarter.

Additionally, practicing yoga, particularly the breathing techniques, can teach you how to breathe better from your diaphragm, which will then reduce the blockages to your airway that cause sleep apnoea.

It is also very helpful to give smaller muscles a workout too!  Specifically, your mouth, throat, and tongue.  A study released in May 2015 found that specific oropharyngeal exercises effectively reduced snoring frequency by 36%.  Researchers have high hopes for the benefits of these exercises.

What Does Oropharyngeal Mean?

“Oropharyngeal” refers to the area of the throat at the back of the mouth. This area includes the back of your tongue, tonsils, adenoids, palatine uvula.  The uvula is the teardrop-shaped piece of soft tissue that hangs down at the back of your throat mentioned earlier.

So, an “oropharyngeal exercise” is an exercise that you do to strengthen the muscles in and around the throat.

Performing oropharyngeal exercises can help tone and strengthen the muscles that are directly involved in keeping your airways open.  Similar to working out at the gym with your regular muscles in your body, the same principle applies, different exercises target different muscles.

According to the Apnoea Treatment Centre, the specific mouth exercises recommended for you will depend on which area of your mouth is the weakest.  If your throat muscles are collapsing during sleep, you should focus on oral exercises for your throat.

If your tongue falls back into your throat when asleep, you should focus on strengthening your tongue.  This will be diagnosed by your health consultant.  Regular mouth exercises can help reduce your sleep apnoea symptoms and can also make your CPAP machine therapy more effective, so it’s important to know what parts you need to exercise and why.

4 best oral exercises for sleep apnoea symptom reduction

Exercises that work your throat, tongue, soft palate, and jaw are widely known to be the most effective exercises for reducing sleep apnoea symptoms.  Here are a few to try:

The Tiger Yell

Your throat is usually the biggest source of the problem, so strengthening the long, thin muscles there can really help.  Try the “Tiger Yell”: open your mouth wide, mimicking the facial features of a tiger about to yell or roar.

With your mouth open as wide as possible, move your tongue down past your teeth as far as you can. The goal is to lift the uvula for 5 seconds at a time and repeat ten times.

Sing Loud and Proud

Singing as mentioned at the start of the article, is a great way to strengthen the muscles in your soft palate and upper throat, which tend to get weaker as you age.  In one study, people with mild to moderate sleep apnoea symptoms saw improvements after a 3-month program of daily singing exercises.  Make sure to open all the windows and let everyone hear!

Start with simple vocal vowel exercises, like singing the sound of each of the vowels in an elongated fashion.

Tongue Slides

Studies have shown that doing daily tongue exercises can help treat sleep apnoea symptoms, often caused by the tongue collapsing to the back of the throat.  One of the best tongue exercises is the “tongue slide.” Push the tip of the tongue against the roof of your mouth, called the hard palate and slide the tongue backward.  Repeat this as many times as is comfortable.

Soft Palate Stretches

An easy stretch for your soft palate is to open your mouth wide, while saying “ah” in the back of the throat.  Continue for 20 seconds.  Close your mouth, wait just five seconds, then repeat between five and ten times.

As always, talk to your doctor to determine your recommended plan overall.  Follow their suggestions. and above all keep singing!

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