Want to stop snoring? Try these exercises!

People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) often breathe through their mouths during sleep, and have throat muscles and a tongue that are more relaxed during sleep. This causes a collapse of the airway, resulting in the effect of being repeatedly choked throughout the night.

The diagram below shows the difference between an open airway and an obstructed one.


Recent data from the Singapore Health Study estimates that up to 30.5 percent of Singapore’s population has moderate to severe OSA.

To check your level of risk for OSA and latest treatments, check out this article from SKOOP.

"Perfoming myofunctional therapy exercises can help to increase the tone and strength of the upper airway muscles, thereby reducing the collapse of the upper airway during sleep," explained Dr Phua Chu Qin, Consultant from the Department of Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose & Throat) at Sengkang General Hospital (SKH), a member of the SingHealth group.

"In addition, doing nasal breathing exercises can reduce mouth breathing during sleep which can help stabilise the upper airway in some patients during sleep," Dr Phua added. Here are some exercises to try.

8 Simple exercises to stop snoring

One set of these exercises takes about 5mins to complete. It is recommended to perform two sets per session (10mins total), at least twice daily. You should also practice these exercises in front of a mirror to ensure that you are doing them properly.

​1. Tongue slide

Purpose: Strengthens your tongue and throat muscles.

How to do: Press the tip of your tongue on your top front teeth. Slowly slide your tongue backwards. Repeat 5 times.

2. ​Tongue stretch

Purpose: Increases the tone and strength of your tongue

How to do: Stick out your tongue as far as you can. Try to touch your chin with your tongue while looking at the ceiling. Hold for 10 - 15 seconds and increase the duration gradually. Repeat 5 times.

3. Gum chewing

Purpose of this exercise: Strengthens your throat and jaw muscles and helps to widen your airway.

How to do: With your mouth closed, go through the motion of chewing, as if you are chewing a piece of gum. Whilst chewing, make an ‘mmmm’ sound. Do this for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise 5 times.

4. Tongue forces

Purpose of this exercise: Improves the tone and strength of your tongue and soft palate.

How to do:
Step 1: Suck your tongue upward against the roof of your mouth and press your entire tongue against it. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat this 5 times.

Step 2: In the opposite direction, force your tongue down, until your whole tongue is resting on the floor of your mouth. Ensure the tip of your tongue is touching the back of your lower teeth. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

​5. Tongue clench

Purpose of this exercise: Strengthens your tongue and throat muscles.

How to do: Hold your tongue gently in between your lower and upper front teeth. Do not bite too hard on your tongue to avoid causing injury. Whilst holding your tongue in between your teeth, perform 5 swallows. Repeat 5 times.

6. Finger in cheek

Purpose of this exercise: Assists in better closure of the mouth and improves nasal breathing.

How to do: Press the buccinators muscle (main muscle in your cheek) outwards while contracting your cheek muscle. Repeat 10 times on each side.

​7. Inflate a balloon

Purpose of this exercise: Improves the overall tone and strength of the jaws, facial and throat muscles.

How to do: Cover the opening of a balloon with your mouth. Take a deep breath from your nose and exhale from your mouth to inflate the balloon as much as possible. Repeat 5 times.

8. Nasal breathing

Purpose of this exercise: Improves and encourages nasal breathing, which can help stabilise airway during sleep.

How to do:
Step 1: Sit up straight. With your mouth closed and your jaw relaxed, inhale through your nose.

Step 2: Relax your body. Focus on your breathing.

Step 3: Press your finger/knuckle on one nostril and breathe out gently through the other nostril. This step allows you to determine which nostril tends to be more or less congested. 

Step 4: After determining which the less congested nostril is, press your finger/knuckle on the less congested nostril and breathe through the more congested nostril. 

These myofunctional therapy and nasal breathing exercises are designed to complement other obstructive sleep apnea treatments.

By performing these exercises regularly, you can expect reduced snoring, improved obstructive sleep apnea and even less sleepiness in the day.

Ref: I23

Other articles you may be interested in:

8 Tips to Stop Snoring

When is Snoring Considered Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): How to Manage