Snoring may seem pretty harmless, but it can be a symptom of larger problems – most notably sleep apnea(1) – and it can mean a sleepless night for those sharing a bed with someone who snores.
Fortunately, according to a recent study published in the journal Chest, there are simple exercises that chronic snorers can practice to effectively help them stop snoring.
Snoring: A Widespread Problem
According to the National Sleep Foundation, snoring affects roughly 90 million American adults(2).
Snoring is caused by the muscles of the throat relaxing, the tongue falling back, and the throat becoming narrow and floppy, causing the walls of the throat to start vibrating.
Snoring can become more serious as you age, and be a significant sleep-disruptor – not just for the person snoring, but for anyone sharing their bed as well.
Dealing With Snoring
There are many snoring aids available on the market today, from sedatives to dental sleep devices, and many techniques that chronic snorers can employ to cut down on the problem, including weight loss and lying in different positions to sleep.
But now, according to the new study, there are simple tongue exercises which can greatly reduce the amount of time per night a person snores(3).
A Unique Approach
The new study is unique in that it focused on people with obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA – a condition which causes snoring – instead of relying on self-reporting to determine how much a study participant snores.
“Past studies have focused on self-reporting questionnaires. New forms of treatment for snoring focusing on objective measures were needed,” said Geraldo Lorenzi-Filho, one of the study’s authors, in a press release(4).
“We tested the effectiveness of oropharyngeal exercises to reduce snoring… the exercises significantly reduced snoring in our study group.”
Some of the exercises explored by the study included:
1. Pressing the tongue up against the roof of the mouth and holding it there.
2. Pressing the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth, then pulling the tip of the tongue towards the back of the mouth.
3. Holding the back of the tongue against the roof of the mouth while pressing the tip of the tongue against the front bottom teeth.
4. Lifting the back of the roof of the mouth and soft palate while saying “Ah”.
The study is already changing the way some healthcare practitioners advise patients who snore.
“This study demonstrates a promising, noninvasive treatment for large populations suffering from snoring… that are largely omitted from research and treatment,” said Barbara Phillips, medical director of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine’s Sleep Laboratory.
“Frankly, this will change the advice that I give to my patients who snore.”