What is Mouth Exercising?
Mouth exercises, also called myofunctional therapy, are movements that engage parts of the mouth, face, and throat to improve the mobility, function, and positioning of muscles that affect nighttime breathing. Targeted mouth exercises may reduce snoring and improve your nighttime breathing. Although there are no established guidelines about the type and frequency of exercises needed to reduce snoring, studies have shown reductions in snoring with regimens of mouth exercises lasting from 8 to 30 minutes, practiced one or more times every day.
How Do Snoring Exercises Work?
Snoring happens when tissues in the upper airway vibrate against each other as a person breathes during sleep. Mouth exercises work by counteracting forces in the mouth and throat that contribute to snoring, like excessive sagging in the soft palate, open-mouth breathing, or a poorly positioned tongue during sleep. Mouth exercises can be performed at home, but are often used under the instruction of a speech pathologist or another health care professional. Mouth exercises are considered an accessible, inexpensive, and non-invasive way to reduce snoring. Although doctors don’t yet know who benefits most from these exercises, experts suggest that consistency may be key.
Mouth Exercises Using Your Tongue
Many mouth exercises involve engaging muscles of the tongue. These exercises are designed to help reposition the tongue in the mouth. This is helpful because the tongue can fall back towards the throat during sleep, which partially obstructs the airway and increases the likelihood of snoring.
Press the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth and slide it backward. Try 20 tongue slides several times a day.
Suck your tongue up against the entire roof of your mouth, like a suction cup. Do this 20 times, repeating several times each day.
While keeping the tip of your tongue against the back of your bottom front teeth, press your tongue down against the floor of your mouth. Do 20 tongue presses multiple times throughout the day.
Create a smiling motion with your mouth using the full range of motion for 30 seconds or more. Make a smile as big as you can, then draw your mouth back and down into a frown, then back up to the smile position. Make sure to use your lip muscles and tongue.
Are Mouth Exercises Effective for Reducing Snoring?
It’s difficult to pinpoint whether mouth exercises will actually reduce your snoring. However, a 2018 study concluded that patients with sleep apnea may experience improvements in their snoring after using targeted tongue-strengthening exercises. Other research, including a 2008 study on snoring caused by palatal flutter or floppy soft palate, suggests that targeted mouth exercises can improve cases of snoring.
Who Benefits Most from Mouth Exercises?
It's difficult to say who benefits most from mouth exercises, since there is little research and no established guidelines available yet. However, research does suggest that consistency is key. To get the best results, try practicing the exercises regularly. Ask your doctor or speech pathologist how often to practice the exercises. If you seek medical help or advice, make sure to ask your doctor which exercises are best for your particular case.
What Else Can I Do to Stop Snoring?
If mouth exercises don't work on their own, you may want to look into additional treatments or home remedies for sleep apnea that can help reduce your snoring. Although there is no surefire treatment for curing snoring, there are several remedies and products you can try. Supplements, lifestyle and diet changes, and sleep aids can reduce or eliminate snoring in some cases. You may also want to look into snoring mouthpieces or mouthguards.
Other Treatments for Snoring
- Lose weight, which may reduce snoring by improving the health of your upper airway.
- Quit smoking, which will reduce inflammation in the airways and minimize snoring.
- Sleep on your side, which can reduce the chances of snoring.
- Use a humidifier, which can prevent excessive dryness in nasal passages, helping to reduce snoring.
- Add more exercise into your daily routine, which may help increase muscle tone and reduce snoring.
- Get enough sleep, as lack of sleep can contribute to snoring.
- Avoid alcohol in the evening, which can make snoring worse.
- Drink plenty of fluids, as dehydration can make snoring worse.
- Use snoring mouthpieces or mouthguards, which can be worn over the teeth during sleep and can help reduce snoring.
Mouth exercises, also called myofunctional therapy, are movements that engage parts of the mouth, face, and throat to improve the mobility, function, and positioning of muscles that affect nighttime breathing. Targeted mouth exercises may reduce snoring and improve your nighttime breathing. Although there is no surefire way of determining who can benefit from mouth exercises, it is suggested that consistency with the exercises may be key. If mouth exercises don’t help, there are other treatments and remedies available such as snoring mouthpieces or mouthguards, supplements, weight loss, lifestyle and diet changes, and sleep aids.