Jaw Exercises For Sleep Apnea: Surprisingly Simple Yet Effective!

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You have perhaps spent enormous amounts of money buying chewing gum while watching your favorite sports either at the stadium or on TV. How about closing your mouth and pretend that you are chewing gum? Sounds funny? Interestingly, this is one of the most simple but recommended jaw exercises for sleep apnea that aim to strengthen and tone your jaw muscles which unfortunately have turned weak and flaccid thereby adding to worsening of the condition.

Sleep apnea exercises: why are they recommended?

Obesity is the root cause of many evils – snoring being number one. This seemingly simple sleep disorder, if left untreated can quickly worsen into one of the worst types of sleep disorders called sleep apnea, of which obstructive sleep apnea is most common. Arising out of a collapsed and blocked upper respiratory tract, the condition involves the malfunctioning of several breathing organs including neck, throat, jaw, tongue and soft palate. The improper functioning including collapse during sleep is caused mainly by weakening of the relevant muscles directly involved with breathing.

Excess fat also accumulates in the breathing muscles helping them to lose their flaccidity, strength and tone. This results in their collapsing during sleep, causing serious blockage during breathing.

While physical workouts like jogging, walking, controlled diet and aerobics help in weight loss of other areas of the body, for reducing fat, toning and strengthening of breathing muscles the only way available is through various types of sleep apnea exercises.

Like jaw exercises of sleep apnea, there are also exercises for the tongue and throat that as their names suggest, focus primarily on the muscles for which they are designed.

It is to be remembered that doing some kind of sleep apnea exercises may not be enough to reduce the sleep apnea symptoms. The exercises have to be backed by other forms of physical workouts to get the optimum health benefits from them.

It is also a fact that none of the sleep apnea exercises can provide miraculous results. You have to practice them regularly for a minimum period of 3 months to see any visible improvement of your apnea condition.

Jaw exercises for sleep apnea: some popular choices and how to do them

  • Pretending that you are chewing gum. You could make a mmmm sound while doing this. Keep your molars on both sides move up and down a little bit and they should touch each other lightly. Keep the lips closed while doing this exercise. Do this for a few seconds in the beginning – gradually increasing the duration.
  • Tensed jaws often cause snoring and also sleep apnea. Do these exercises to loosen the jaw muscles.

–          Start by relaxing the lower and upper molars by concentrating on them.

–          Make them as wide apart as possible.

–          Repeat this 20 times

–          Next, concentrate on your throat muscles and try to contract them.

–          Once you can are conscious about these muscles, you can actually feel the tension                   within them and also help to relax them with ease.

  • Many of the jaw exercises for sleep apnea have the same benefit as maxillomandibular advancement – a surgical procedure that re-aligns the jaws, by pushing the lower jaw forward, at times recommended to treat sleep apnea. For example, one such exercise uses the muscles of the face to push the lower jaw beyond the upper jaw contours. You can feel the lower teeth moving beyond the upper set of teeth. Then move the lower jaw back and forth for a count of 10. Then relax for a few minutes after which move your jaws sideways.
  • Make one of your hands resist the pushing of your lower jaw down while you try to open your mouth. Make your hand push the lower jaw to close the mouth. This kind of resistance from the hand can actually strengthen the jaw muscles better and faster.

Needless to mention, jaw exercises for sleep apnea are the best choice when the snoring problem and subsequent sleep apnea has been diagnosed to be due to misaligned jaws or any other anatomical problem related to the jaw structure. Even otherwise, your doctor may decide to recommend such exercises along with other types of sleep apnea exercises to provide rapid relief from sleep apnea symptoms. Talk to your doctor regarding which of the exercises are best for you considering your condition and the relevant exercises that would suit you most.