Mouth & Throat Exercises for Sleep Apnea
Here at Sleep Solutions, Dr. Bassford offers a holistic approach to treating patients with sleep apnea. She customizes each treatment plan to cater to the individual’s needs. In addition to recommending the use of an oral appliance to assist in keeping your airway open while you sleep, Dr. Bassford will recommend certain lifestyle modifications to optimize your treatment so you’ll see the best results possible.
Oral exercises can reduce the severity of your sleep apnea by strengthening muscles around your throat including:
- The back of your tongue
- Palatine uvula – the ball that hangs down at the entrance to your throat
- Soft palate – the back part at the top of your throat
Strengthening these muscles will reduce the likelihood that they’ll collapse and block your airway. Like any exercise, it may take a few weeks until you notice a difference, but by maintaining a regular routine, you’ll surely reap the benefits.
Therapeutic Exercises for Your Throat
Dr. Bassford will prescribe exercises to tone different muscles depending on what’s causing the sleep apnea events. Exercises may include the following:
- Open your mouth as wide as you can and stick your tongue out as if you’re trying to lick your chin and hold for 5 seconds, repeat 10 times
- Open your mouth as wide as you can while saying “ahhh” for about 20 seconds, taking breaks as needed, repeat 10 times
- Place your tongue firmly against the roof of your mouth and slide it backward, repeat 20 times
- Inhale through your nose and blow out through pursed lips for 5 seconds
- Gargle water for five minutes
- Hold your tongue between your front teeth and swallow five times, repeat 5 times
- With your mouth open, move your jaw towards the right and hold for 30 seconds, repeat on the left side
Strengthen Your Way to a Better Night’s Sleep
Strengthening the muscles around your throat is part of a holistic approach to improving your sleep apnea symptoms. If you have sleep apnea, contact our office by calling (301) 593-5500 and we’ll help you on your journey to a better night’s rest.
Frequently Asked Questions
What sleep position is best for sleep apnea?
Side sleeping is the preferred position because it can help reduce the risk of your throat collapsing causing a sleep apnea event. Dr. Bassford may also recommend positional therapy as part of your holistic treatment.
Positional therapy utilizes specialized pillows to help keep your airway open while you sleep. There are pillows available for patients who prefer side-sleeping or sleeping on your back. It may take a little getting used to, but you’ll rest assured that it’s helping you decrease the severity of your sleep apnea symptoms.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
Signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Loud snoring
- Pauses in breathing during sleep
- Abrupt awakenings followed by gasping or choking
- Morning headache
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
- Decreased libido
Treatment can help mitigate symptoms caused by sleep apnea so you can begin to live your life without being controlled by the dangerous health condition.
How can I treat sleep apnea at home without a CPAP machine?
There are various treatment methods that can improve your symptoms without the need for a bulky and inconvenient CPAP machine. Dr. Bassford may recommend a combination of the following:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Positional therapy
- Mouth and throat exercises
- Use a humidifier
- Use an oral appliance
- Avoid alcohol, smoking, and sedatives
What happens if sleep apnea is left untreated?
If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause serious health complications such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
With treatment, you can begin reversing the risks of health complications from sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea, schedule a consultation with Dr. Bassford by calling (301) 593-5500.
She’ll review your symptoms and determine if you would benefit from a sleep study for a proper diagnosis. Once you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea, we can begin treatment right away.