Heavy snoring shouldn’t be ignored. It can sometimes signal a more serious problem. Excessive nighttime snorts and grunts can be a sign of sleep apnea, especially when the snoring is paired with frequent interrupted breathing that may sound like gasping or choking.Not only can the condition disturb your sleep—as well as your partner’s—but it can also lead to health complications such as heart trouble. So let your general practitioner know right away if you notice these symptoms.
Doctors often prescribe a therapy using a device called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for sleep apnea. The mask, which is worn while you sleep, blows air into the airways to keep them open so that breathing is uninterrupted and snoring is lessened.
Something that you can do in addition to wearing a CPAP mask is strengthen the muscles around the airways by doing mouth exercises. When practiced for 30 minutes a day, these simple exercises—which involve chewing and swallowing motions as well as specific movements of the tongue—have been found to reduce the severity of sleep apnea, improve sleep, and ease snoring. Even playing instruments that strengthen the airways, such as the didgeridoo, has been found to help treat sleep apnea.
If snoring or sleep apnea is interfering with your sleep, talk with your physician about your condition and whether oral exercises may be right for you, and get started with these mouth moves:
- Push the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth and slide the tongue backward. Repeat 20 times.
- Suck your tongue upward so that the entire tongue lies against the roof of your mouth. Repeat 20 times.
- Force the back of your tongue downward against the floor of your mouth while keeping the tip of your tongue in contact with your bottom front teeth.
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