Exercises to Relieve Sleep Apnea Studied

There’s a story from the New York Times today that may cause some excitement among sleep apnea sufferers.  Individuals with sleep apnea have episodes of blocked breathing while they sleep.  The article talks about a study that tested the use of mouth and throat exercises to treat sleep apnea, rather than the standard use of a CPAP machine.

…scientists recruited a group of people with obstructive sleep apnea and split them into two groups. One was trained to perform breathing exercises daily, while the other performed 30 minutes of throat exercises, including swallowing and chewing motions, placing the tip of the tongue against the front of the palate and sliding it back, and pronouncing certain vowels quickly and continuously.

After three months, subjects who did the throat exercises snored less, slept better and reduced the severity of their condition by 39 percent. They also showed reductions in neck circumference, a known risk factor for apnea. The control group showed almost no improvement.

Additional studies have suggested that playing musical instruments (a form of mouth and throat exercise in and of itself) could be beneficial for sleep apnea sufferers.