Because no one likes a snorer. (GIF: Erik Mace for Yahoo Health/Getty Images)
Good news, snorers — or rather, bedtime partners of snorers.
A small new study published in the journal CHEST shows that certain mouth and tongue exercises are effective at reducing those notorious nighttime noises.
Snoring is prevalent, affecting approximately 90 million men and women in the U.S. For about one-third of snorers, it’s a sign of the sleep disorder obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The mouth and tongue exercises examined in the new study could help snorers with and without mild OSA, the researchers say.
For the three-month study, Brazilian researchers had 39 people ages 20 to 65 perform nasal lavage (a practice that involves flushing your naval cavity with a neti pot or saline spray) three times per day, followed by either respiratory (breathing) exercises or a set of oropharyngeal (mouth and tongue) exercises for approximately eight minutes. “These (oropharyngeal) exercises are derived from oral motor techniques to improve speech and/or swallowing activity,” the authors write in the study.
Related: 7 Ways To Stop Your Snoring
While very little changes were seen in the people assigned to perform the breathing exercises, the researchers discovered that those who did the mouth and tongue exercises reduced the frequency of snoring by 36 percent and total power of snoring by 59 percent.
Want to see if the exercises work for your own snoring? The study authors were not able to determine the individual effects of each specific exercise, so your best bet is to try them as a set (about two minutes per exercise). Here’s how to do them:
(Photos courtesy of the American College of Chest Physicians/Vanessa Ieto)
“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,” Barbara Phillips, MD, FCCP, president-designate of the American College of Chest Physicians and medical director of the Sleep Laboratory at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, tells Yahoo Health. “Frankly, this will change the advice that I give to my patients who snore. And that’s a lot of people.“
Phillips adds that it’s not exactly known why these exercises had such a profound effect on the study participants, but “strengthening the upper airway muscles with exercise — or playing a musical instrument — may help them to prevent closure in the back of the throat when a person is breathing in,” she says.
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