Oropharyngeal Exercises

There are also exercises that patients can do to decrease the severity of, or to reduce the likelihood of developing, snoring and sleep apnea. Snoring and OSA get worse as we age due to the muscles that surround the upper airway get weaker and floppier. Regular oropharyngeal exercise, like in any muscle group, will increase the muscle tone and elasticity of the worked-out muscle. This means when you breathe in, the soft tissue is able to hold itself against the low pressure and not collapse into the airway.

Singing, tongue strengthening exercises and playing the didgeridoo have all been proven in different academic papers to reduce the severity of OSA in patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea by around half. Like any exercise, the benefits increase the more regular the practice and the benefits you do see will gradually fade away if you stop the practice. It is generally advised to spend around five minutes before and after bed, as part of your daily routine, to see the best results.

There are no side effects to oropharyngeal exercises and they could be performed by anyone, regardless of the severity of their OSA. If a sleep study shows mild or moderate OSA, oropharyngeal exercises might be the only treatment needed. If the result of a study is more severe, the recommendation could be to do the exercises in conjunction with either MAS, in order to bring the events per hour down further, or CPAP, to lessen the severity of OSA, allowing lower pressure settings on the CPAP device, making it easier and more comfortable to sleep with.


There are various surgeries available which can reduce snoring and OSA, however these only work for some people with limited results. It is highly unlikely surgery will completely cure severe sleep apnea, although your doctor may recommend it for mild cases. Some of the more common procedures include removal of adenoids and tonsils, especially in children; removal of nasal polyps or other growths; and correction of structural deformities.

Great care and consideration should be taken before committing to any surgery that hopes to cure sleep apnea, as there are many cases where surgeries have severe side effects or even make sleep apnea worse in the long term.