6 Mouth Exercises To Help You Snore Less

6 Mouth Exercises To Help You Snore Less

SPECIAL FROM Grandparents.com

Bedmates of snorers, listen up: You may be able to retire those sleep-saving earplugs for good. A study released in May 2015 found that certain tongue and mouth (oropharyngeal) exercises effectively reduce snoring frequency by 36 percent and “total snoring power” by 59 percent. Sleep specialists are encouraged.

“This is a brand new field called oral myofunctional therapy,” which includes exercises for the soft palate and tongue, says sleep specialist Robert Rosenberg, D.O., F.C.C.P., medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona, and author of "Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day." “Most studies show improvement after three months, but keep in mind this is very new and there are not many studies available.”

The Problem with SnoringAbout 37 million adults in the U.S. regularly snore, a problem that worsens as you age, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The main culprit behind the noise is relaxed throat muscles, which cause the inner walls of your throat to become narrower, creating vibrations when you breathe. When the walls completely collapse, blocking your airway and usually startling you awake to breathe, that’s known as obstructive sleep apnea.

Chronic snoring may be more than just a nighttime nuisance. “In the absence of sleep apnea the main complication is disturbing your partner's sleep,” says Dr. Rosenberg. “However, there are some studies that have demonstrated that snoring alone can cause carotid artery disease and fatigue.”

Who Should Try This TherapyIf you are a mild to moderate snorer, haven’t been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and are otherwise healthy, Dr. Rosenberg recommends trying oropharyngeal exercises. “They’re simple, safe, inexpensive, and effective,” he says. “Anyone who has 10 to 15 minutes to spare daily to practice these techniques is a good candidate.”Without further ado, read on for six exercises from the study (with names we made up to identify them) that lessened participants’ nightly buzzsaw.

The tongue slide
Push the tip of the tongue against the roof of your mouth (a.k.a. the hard palate) and slide the tongue backward. Repeat 20 times.
The roof smoosh
Suck the tongue upward, pressing the entire tongue against flush with the palate. Repeat 20 times.
Tongue carpet
Force the underside of the tongue against the floor of the mouth while keeping the tip of the tongue in contact with the bottom front teeth. Repeat 20 times.
Say ahhhhh!
As you do for the doctor when she inspects your throat, lift the soft palate (the back of the roof of your mouth) and uvula. Repeat 20 times.
The cheek push
Wash your hands and then insert your right index finger into your mouth, pressing the inside of your finger against the length of your left cheek. Engage your cheek muscle and return the pressure against your finger. Repeat 10 times. Switch sides, repeat 10 times.
Chew evenly
Whenever you’re eating, remember to alternate the side of your mouth that you chew and swallow food with.

A Second OpinionExercising the muscles that keep your airway open could prevent sagging-related snoring, says W. Christopher Winter, M.D., a board-certified sleep medicine doctor and neurologist practicing at Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia. “If you dedicate the time, the exercises can help,” he says. “If you couple it with avoiding alcohol at night and losing five pounds, they can be more effective.”

Dr. Winter acknowledges that doing the exercises day in and day out is not practical for the average patient, but that there’s no reason not to try them, even if you eventually seek an alternate solution.

Alternatives to ConsiderIf oropharyngeal exercises don’t work for you, Dr. Rosenberg suggests alternative therapies, including weight loss, positional therapy such as sleeping at a 30-degree angle or avoiding sleeping on your back, giving up alcohol at night, quitting smoking, using a nasal strip such as BreatheRight, and finally, surgery.

For more information on snoring therapies, visit Sleepfoundation.org.

Before You Go

Get some sun
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When your alarm goes off at the crack of dawn, it's tempting to curl up deeper into your blanket and avoid drawing the shades. But a burst of sunlight tells your brain it is indeed time to wake up and start the day. A study at the University of Liege found people who were exposed to bright light early in the morning were more alert and had increased activity in the parts of the brain responsible for cognitive processes. An added perk: getting early morning rays will not only help wake you up but will help you sleep better through the night, meaning you wake up better rested. Win-win.
Massage Your Pressure Points
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Have you ever found yourself massaging your temples during that mid-afternoon slump? Turns out a similar technique could be effective in boosting your morning alertness. A University of Michigan study found simple self-acupuncture treatments can help with lessening fatigue. The study had volunteers stimulate five pressure points on the body for three minutes each: the top of the head, the point between your thumb and index finger, right below the center of the knee cap, below the ball of the foot, and the base of your neck.
Cool off
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We're all a little dehydrated when we wake up and even a small drop in hydration can significantly increase your feelings of fatigue. Hydrate with ice cold water to help get the morning adrenaline flowing and beat tiredness, doctors suggest. If you're brave enough, try ending your shower with water that's slightly cooler than comfortable, which doctors say can help with alertness. Dr. Oz. also suggests the ayurvedic practice of "ishnan." Dip some bath mittens in ice cold water and rub your arms, legs, and feet for two minutes. Dr. Oz says this will help bust any energy-sapping toxins and boost circulation.
Get moving
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After a night of slumber, blood pools up unevenly through your body, making for poor circulation. Start your morning off with a morning walk to get the endorphins flowing and your blood pumping. Psychologist Thomas Plante even says it could be as effective as a espresso in waking you up, according to NBC. Or, if you've overslept and are crunched for time, try some simple exercises at home. As soon as you get out of bed, try squatting with your chest to your knees, Dr. Oz suggests. Jump up quickly and the rapid movement will help rebalance any pooled blood and quicken blood flow to your brain and heart.
Fuel up
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Breakfast sets the tone for your day...skip it and you're already off to a bad start. After several hours of rest, eating a nutritious breakfast helps boost your metabolism, gives you energy, and helps with concentration. Studies have shown eating breakfast helps children have better concentration, memory and achievement in school than their meal-skipping peers. Skipping breakfast also makes you more likely to snack on junk foods with little nutritional value, making your energy levels slump during the day. Try a protein-rich breakfast, like greek yogurt, to help keep you fuller, longer. A piece of fiber-rich fruit, like an apple, can also help keep you satisfied through the morning.