12 Dec Tongue Exercises May Ease Sleep Apnea
Doing certain tongue exercises for 30 minutes daily may be the answer to obstructive sleep apnea. In a Brazilian study of 31 adults with moderate obstructive sleep apnea they decided them up with 16 of them being taught by speech pathologists to do tongue and facial exercises for half an hour daily. Those exercises included brushing the tongue with a tooth brush, putting the tip of the tongue on the soft palate and sliding the tongue backward, pronouncing vowels quickly or continuously, and keeping the tongue in a certain position when eating.
See how Doctor also uses balloons to improve breathing and Apnea.
For comparison, the other 15 patients didn’t learn any tongue or facial exercises. They were simply supervised as they sat for half an hour per day, practicing deep breathing through the nose.
Three months later, the patients in the tongue/facial exercise group had reduced their obstructive sleep apnea severity by 39%. Those patients also reported that they were snoring less, sleeping better, and were less sleepy during the daytime than they had been before learning the exercises. And, although their BMI (body mass index) hadn’t changed, their neck circumference was thinner than it had been at the study’s start.
In contrast, the comparison group showed no such improvements.
Larger studies are needed to confirm the results and to learn which exercises were most important, but the basic idea is to strengthen the muscles around the airway so it’s less likely to collapse during sleep, say the researchers, who included Katia Guimaraes of the sleep laboratory at Brazil’s University of Sao Paolo Medical School.
Some of the exercises that the patients performed may have been more helpful than others, according to an editorial published with the study.
Still, “there seems to be reasonable logic to targeting tongue strength as a potential mechanism for remodeling the upper airway,” writes editorialist Catriona Steele, PhD, of Canada’s Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and University of Toronto