Snoring a regular occurrence during the night at your house?
Snoring can interrupt an entire household and put some serious dents in relationships. Singers continually using their instrument on a regular basis, vocalizing and singing, seldom are snorers. There are some exercises from the singer’s repertoire that may prove valuable in decreasing snoring. The following is information on snoring, sleep apnea and finally some sleep apnea throat exercises for you to try.
Not all snorers have sleep apnea
“Why all the hoopla over snoring”, you say? Just try getting a good night’s sleep in a snorer’s bedroom. No can do. The snorer ends up being isolated and hopefully nothing at all more. It is estimated that approximately 45% of the population snore and possibly 25% are habitual snorers. Approximately one in three men and a smaller percentage of women suffer from Obstructive Apnea, the most common form of apnea. More people over the age of 60 have issues with snoring than any other age group. Sleep can be interrupted hundreds of times during a night, like “small hiccups” in the patient’s sleep cycles. Sometimes the patient is jolted awake and returns to sleep. Their significant other or bedroom partner will be able to shed light on the subject. It’s important to use gentleness, and sensitivity in bringing up the issue to talk about it. You need to find an opportune time to discuss the subject of snoring when you are both fairly rested. It is important to avoid unnecessary attacking or teasing. If your snorer has episodes of nightly snoring more than two nights a week habitually and they snore in any sleeping position, then you should schedule a visit with your doctor.
How do you know if you have sleep apnea?
The truth is a person with a snoring problem or sleep apnea most likely does not know they are having sleep issues and can be totally unaware. The chronic problem leads to sleep deprivation with poor daytime function, Some common symptoms are falling asleep during the day, confusion, risky road trips, poor job function, increases in calorie consumption, and an overall decreased energy and zest for life. If the condition is left untreated over time, the patient could be at increased risk for heart disease, hypertension, accidents, diabetes and obesity which further compromise the quality of life.
People with sleep apnea suffer symptoms such as: mood swings, irritability, dry mouth, sore throat, waking up frequently to urinate and headaches during the morning.
There are three types of Sleep Apnea
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea-The tissues inside, and in the back of the throat relax, narrowing and blocking the airway.
- Central Sleep Apnea-This involves the Central Nervous System. The muscles that control breathing do not get the appropriate signals from the brain. The airway stays open, but oxygen levels decrease and the brain signals the sleeper to be awakened to resume breathing. Sometimes this might be an issue if there has been heart disease, brain stem, stroke, spinal injury or other neurological disease.
- Complex, Mixed Components of Central and Obstructive.
During sleep, your whole body relaxes, including the muscles that keep your throat open. During breathing the relaxed or flaccid walls of the airway begin to vibrate as the sleeper breathes in and out. The tongue also becomes relaxed and falls toward the opening of the throat. The vibrating airway walls cause the snoring sound. If the walls of the airway become more flaccid and the tongue relaxes even more, than it can decrease the throat opening causing obstruction and cessation of breathing. If breathing stops for a period of 10 seconds or more, it is defined as apnea.
What are some helpful ways of dealing with snoring and sleep apnea?
Losing weight can be a big aid in reducing and sometimes eradicating the problem. It was found that just a 10-percent weight decrease can reduce problems of both snoring and sleep apnea. It’s possible a patient who is obese can start a safe, healthy weight loss program and over time, lose the extra pounds. Losing the extra pounds can go a long way in helping them nix the snoring/sleep apnea issues.
Throughout history, I have heard accounts of people sewing a golf ball on the back side of their pajama top to prevent them from sleeping on their back and snoring. I have heard of people elevating the head of their bed with boards or blocks. There have always been special pillows and foam wedges that elevate the head from four-to-six inches starting at the waist. Sometimes in very severe cases there are surgical options.
CPAP Gold Standard
Today we have advanced in technology of course, and there are more advanced surgical procedures, oral appliances, nasal dilators, Provent and CPAP. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) as it is called, is a machine that generates flow and provides a small amount of pressure in the airway that is constant during the patients inhalation and exhalation. This machine keeps the airways open allowing the patient to breathe easily the whole night. It requires the patient to wear a mask with a soft head strap. If properly used during night time sleep, it will provide immediate results and is considered to be the gold standard treatment for sleep apnea.
But what can we do about the snoring?
In the last ten years, alternative ideas have surfaced because there is so much concern about treatment compliance. More people have been involved, working and researching to find ways of dealing with the snoring. Any regular activity that will use the muscles of the throat, cheeks, tongue and mouth will help decrease snoring/sleep apnea.
You can pick one or two of these to do in your home everyday to help:
- Slide the tip of your tongue along the roof of your mouth from your front upper teeth to as far back as you can reach and then back. Next, run the tip of your tongue along the outside of your teeth following your jaw all the way around. Then, do the same with the outside of the lower teeth as far as you can get.
- Press your tongue flat against the floor of your mouth and brush top and sides of mouth with your toothbrush 3 times a day. Repeat again 5 times.
- Cup your chin with your fist and stick your tongue out stretching in attempt to reach your chin for 10-15 seconds. A more advanced exercise would be try saying a Shakespeare Sonnet for approximately one minute.
Blow up a balloon but breath in through your nose and blow out your mouth. Do it without taking your mouth away from the balloon. (Close the back of your throat to keep air in balloon while you breath in through your nose.)
Singers have always used exercises
Singing will help tone up the muscles of the airway, so if you used to sing when you were younger, take it back up. Join a choir, meet new people, and give your muscles a workout regularly. Serious singers have always used exercises called vocalises, to develop and train the voice especially for singing. In recent years, there have been more media published and recorded for exercising and firming the throat muscles.
Alise Ojay, a choir director, singer and researcher from the UK has a series of routine exercises that can be easily learned and executed in about 10-18 minutes per day while you are doing any number of chores like, vacuuming, washing dishes, or cleaning.
Some singing- related exercises to get you started: (Do for about 10 minutes at the beginning)
- Hum a tune you are familiar with like a kid’s song, a nonsense song, or any song that is simple. The second time open your mouth and repeat the syllables over and over through the song: one verse: hung-ee, another verse hung-ah, another refrain hung-oh! Use the word “young’ young-young-young.
- Continue number one, choose another song or stay on the same one and use: kee-kee-kee-kee, then Koh,-koh-koh.
- Try mixing them up like: kee-koh-kee-koh, use your lips really well, smile a little on the kee and round your lips for a good oh on the koh.
- Kaw-kaw-kaw like a crow.
- This one is a bit harder but try: Gaw-la-gaw-la-gaw-la-gaw-la-gaw-la.
Don’t worry if singing is not your thing. We are not going for a gorgeous sound here and do try to have fun. Laugh a lot!