A Brazilian study published in the Online First section of the journal CHEST finds that in patients with primary snoring or mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), oropharyngeal exercises significantly reduced the frequency of snoring by 36% and total power of snoring by 59%.
Snoring is one of the most common symptoms associated with OSA and is caused by vibration of the soft tissues obstructing the pharynx during sleep. However, most people who snore do not have OSA. Treatment of primary snoring varies widely and includes avoiding alcohol and sedatives, avoiding lying flat on the back to sleep, weight loss, treatment of nasal problems, palate and upper airway surgeries, and use of dental sleep devices.
“Past studies have focused on self-reporting questionnaires. New forms of treatment for snoring focusing on objective measures were needed. We tested the effectiveness of oropharyngeal exercises to reduce snoring,” says Geraldo Lorenzi-Filho, MD, PhD, study author, in a release. “The exercises significantly reduced snoring in our study group.”
The mouth and tongue exercises included:
- Pushing the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth and sliding the tongue backward
- Sucking the tongue upward against the roof of the mouth, and pressing the entire tongue against the roof of the mouth
- Forcing the back of the tongue against the floor of the mouth while keeping the tip of the tongue in contact with the bottom, front teeth
- And elevating the back of the roof of the mouth and uvula while saying the vowel “A”
“This study demonstrates a promising, noninvasive treatment for large populations suffering from snoring, the snorers and their bed partners, that are largely omitted from research and treatment,” says Barbara Phillips, MD, FCCP, president-designate, American College of Chest Physicians, and Medical Director, Sleep Laboratory at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. “Frankly, this will change the advice that I give to my patients who snore. And that’s a lot of people.”
Exercises image credit: American College of Chest Physicians and Vanessa Ieto