Snoring can be a huge factor in quality sleep - both for the perpetrator and the victim. Snoring happens when the tissues and muscles in the upper airways become too “floppy” during sleep and vibrate. Did you know that simply exercising those muscles, to maintain their tone, can help reduce snoring?
There are even certain exercises to help with mild-to-moderate sleep apnea!
In a 2015 study, researchers looked at groups of men and women who did not have obstructive sleep apnea, which is associated with many health risks, but snored due to mild or moderate sleep apnea. In this study, all the participants were instructed to irrigate their nasal passages (such as with a Neti pot) three times a day to rule out nasal blockage as a cause of snoring - sinus infections also cause snoring and regular nasal irrigation can help combat this.
Then the subjects were divided into two groups. One group used nasal strips and deep breathing exercises to address their snoring.
The other group performed 8 minutes of tongue and palate exercises three times a day.
At the end of the three-month study, only the group who performed the exercises saw a difference in their snoring - a significant difference.
The exercise group saw the frequency of nightly snoring drop by 36% and the intensity of sound by 59%.
This explains why people who regularly sing, play horn instruments, and even play the didgeridoo also report fewer problems with snoring (my partner is a professional saxophone player, so I lucked out!).
Throat + Palate Exercises to Reduce Snoring
As with any exercise, the key is to stick with it and keep up the frequency. You (or your partner) will also need to perform these on a long term basis for the benefits. Add these exercises to your commute, tooth brushing routine, or along with your morning cup of coffee. Your bed partner will thank you and you may experience feeling more rested and energetic during the day.
Mid-life Hormones, Inflammation + Snoring
Although nasal congestion and obesity can cause snoring, many people notice that snoring kicks in during mid-life.
Some research shows this is due to a decline in reproductive hormones — estrogen in women and testosterone in men. These hormones play a role in the part of the brain responsible for throat and palate muscle tone during sleep.
Inflammation of the upper airways have also been shown to increase snoring. Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet may help reduce swelling in those tissues and reduce snoring.
Feel free to reach out about maintaining healthy hormone levels and reducing inflammation through nutritional and lifestyle means.