It’s been commonly understood that people who are physically active tend to sleep longer and more solidly throughout the night. Getting the heart muscle and blood pumping is a benefit to every cell of the body. Yet how can exercise work in conjunction with those suffering from sleep apnea? For adults with sleep apnea, a condition that stresses the heart and repeatedly interrupts sleep when breathing briefly slows or stops, a routine exercise program can cut the severity of sleep apnea by up to 25%.
Being overweight is a well-known risk factor for sleep apnea. Both Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)–a mechanical dysfunction of breathing during sleep, and Central sleep apnea (CSA)–a neurological function of breathing during sleep, have long-term negative impacts on overall health. One of the most prevalent signs of sleep apnea is daytime sleepiness, which can also lead to fatigue during exercise. Because sleep apnea results in poor nighttime breathing, there is also a chance of poor breathing during daytime exercise.
Exercise as the Perfect Companion
From everything to weight loss and sleep problems, exercise can sidle up to anyone who yearns to change their habits for the better. With sleep apnea sufferers though, exercise gives you a mood boost. Exercise also helps with anxiety, depression, and eases stress–all problems that can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. In addition, exercise bolsters sleep by reducing a day’s worth of stress and tiring you out. Early morning and afternoon heart rate activities also help reset the sleep wake cycle by slightly raising body temperature then allowing it to drop and trigger sleepiness a few hours later.
As sleep is crucial for the proper functioning of a daily lifestyle, so too is exercise. A sedentary life won’t cut it anymore, especially for people suffering from sleep apnea. The best defense is a good offense, and exercise in all its forms might help relieve nagging daytime fatigue.
Sleep Apnea Exercises
These are six effective exercises to try at home. Just about anyone with obstructive sleep apnea can benefit, regardless of physical abilities. If you have a mobility issue, you can sit comfortably in a chair to do some of the exercises. The goal of each breathing exercise for sleep apnea is to clear, open, and strengthen your airway muscles. It all depends on what area of your respiratory system needs the most attention.
- Mouth and Throat exercises – These work the throat, tongue, soft palate, and jaw, and are widely regarded as the most effective type of sleep apnea exercises. As a sleep apnea sufferer, you’ll want all of your breathing muscles firm and toned, yet flexible. While you may want to work diligently on one area, try not to forget about the surrounding muscles.
- Neck exercises – Your neck is a very important part of the body when it comes to sleep apnea. The back of the throat, the lower part of the throat, the larynx, the vocal cords, epiglottis, and both the trachea for breathing and your esophagus for eating, can all become compromised with a too thick neck. Your neck size may actually affect sleep apnea.
- Soft Palate exercises – The soft palate is the upper part of the back of your mouth from which hangs that dangling bit resembling a small punching bag. It plays a role in your obstructive sleep apnea and you can perform soft palate exercises to strengthen and ultimately improve your sleeping problems.
- Jaw exercise – If your jaw is tight, it will place pressure on your breathing passages. Jaw exercises help to loosen and relax the jaw muscles and tone your tongue muscles. Clenching or grinding your jaw may result in TMJ issues as well. The key is to release the tension in your jaw by relieving pressure on your tongue and throat.
- Singing exercises – This is one of the best ways to exercise and strengthen your throat muscles, including your vocal cords, which are the strongest muscles in your throat. Singing is best for toning the lax muscles of the upper throat, the goal being to tone the soft palate, tongue, and throat muscles so they don’t collapse or vibrate during sleep. They’re fun too!
- Yoga exercises – Breathing exercises with a yoga practice involves sitting in the right posture and gaining an increase in the oxygen levels in your blood. This then improves your metabolism, boosts energy levels, and helps your body to release toxins. The deep breathing that yoga involves improves several physical and emotional aspects of your life that contribute to sleep apnea disturbances.
Now that you have a home regimen to think about and engage in, there are solutions to treat your sleep disorder and restore your body to achieve a restful night without any interruptions. Dr. Huff and his team encourage you to give these exercises a try, but first schedule a consultation with us so we can help guide your progress and be part of your success. We’re motivated to watch you shine!