Snoring can significantly affect the quantity and quality of sleep you receive. Snoring occurs when the muscles and tissues around the back of the mouth and throat overly relax and airflow ends up fluttering this tissue. This noise from this movement – the vibrating of the throat – produces the sound that is described as snoring.
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), nearly 25% of adults snore regularly. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night which helps sustain the body. Snoring can make it difficult to maintain restful sleep, producing various symptoms (fatigue, irritability, fogginess etc.) that affect daily life. There are effective exercises you can practice to help with snoring and minimize its impact!
What Causes Snoring?
There is a range of factors that can cause snoring including the following:
- Sleep Disorders: half of all people who snore, also experience a sleep disorder. The NSF estimates that 50% of people who snore regularly, do so because they have sleep apnea.
- Anatomy: the physical anatomy of the nose, mouth, and throat can lead to snoring. Features such as larger tonsils and a deviated nasal septum can affect airflow and contribute to snoring.
- Sleep Position: specific sleep positions can also shape the position of the mouth and throat. Positions like sleeping on your back encourage the mouth to be open when muscles behind the throat relax and produce snoring.
- Alcohol: alcohol acts as a sedative, relaxing and collapsing the throat muscles and affecting airflow.
- Aging: as adults age there is an increased risk of experiencing changes to tissues, muscles, and bones; triggering snoring.
Snoring can be experienced chronically, disrupting sleep and potentially contributing to or exacerbating sleep disorders. Fortunately, there are helpful ways you can alleviate your snoring.
Exercises to Help With Snoring
Research shows that throat and mouth exercises can help alleviate snoring. These exercises target specific areas that aid in the process of snoring: muscles around the airways, tongue, and breathing through the mouth. Like other forms of exercise, these exercises work to tone the muscles so that they are less likely to experience the kind of over relaxing (or collapsing) that leads to snoring. Also known as myofunctional therapy or oropharyngeal exercises, throat and mouth exercises target the area around the back of the mouth: tonsils, sides of throat, tongue, soft palate etc. These specific exercises tighten up these muscles so that the airways are not restricted and encounter any obstruction. Studies show that throat and mouth exercises have to be practiced consistently to have an impact on snoring. Research highlights that practicing these exercises daily for a few months can help alleviate snoring.
There are several types of exercises that include the tongue, face, and breathing which target the muscles involved in snoring. To tone these muscles, you can practice the following exercises:
- Tongue: press the tip of your tongue against the back of your top teeth then move your tongue against the roof of your mouth; stick your tongue out as far as you can and reach for your chin; press your tongue against the roof of your mouth
- Face: close your mouth by tightly pressing your lips together and then open your mouth and relax your jaw and face; pull on your cheeks and then use your facial muscles to suck the cheeks back in.
- Breathing: breathing exercises work on healthy airflow through the nose. A useful exercise is to take deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and counting to 5. Then exhaling and counting down from 5.
- Making Vowel Sounds: pronouncing vowel sounds use the throat muscles so repeating these sounds can help with the toning of these muscles. Simply repeat a, e, i o, u and stretch out the sounds.
You should practice all of these exercises daily, repeating the exercises 5-10 times. Research shows that engaging in these mouth and throat exercises for a few months can decrease snoring – the frequency and/or the loudness. If you continue to experience severe and impactful snoring, it is important to consult with your doctor. This may indicate that you have a sleep disorder which needs to be diagnosed and treated.
We Can Help
At Enticare, we specialize in the types of disorders that can cause sleep apnea and snoring. There are new treatments available to help with these disorders. We can help you find ways to sleep better and feel better. Contact us today to make an appointment and find out how we can help you.