sleep apnea exercises

Exercise to Combat Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Exercise…Really?

This article will discuss some exercises you can do to strengthen your respiratory muscles. First, ill explain a little about how the respiratory system works. Then, you will read through some tongue & jaw exercises, as well as breathing exercises that will help manage your sleep apnea symptoms.

sleep apnea exercises

What does an athlete do to get stronger, a singer to to strengthen their voice, and anyone to overcome an injury? Exercise!

Its a simple concept, really. Your respiratory system and parts of the body that influence breathing are made of muscles, and they need regular stimulation to be at peak performance.

The Respiratory System

The respiratory system has two parts, the Upper & Lower respiratory tracts.

upper respiratory tract

Upper respiratory tract: (The section where air is taken in and out)

  • Nose: Paranasal sinuses, nasal cavity, nostrils
  • Mouth: Hard & soft palate, oral cavity, pharynx, tongue
  • Beginning of the trachea: Larynx, upper trachea

lower respiratory tract

Lower respiratory tract: (Where the “act” of breathing takes place)

  • Throat: Larynx, trachea, tracheal cartilage, right & left primary bronchi
  • Lungs: Right & left lung, bronchioles, ribs, intercostal muscles
  • Diaphragm: Contracts and releases to assist in breathing

Exercises to Help Manage Sleep Apnea

Tongue & Jaw Exercises

  • Tongue slide: Try to touch the bottom of your nose with your tongue. Hold that position for 10 seconds, then relax. Do this 10 times, twice a day.
  • Tongue roof: Stick your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Hold it there fore ten seconds, then relax. Do this 10 times, twice a day.
  • Tongue floor: Push your tongue to the bottom of you’re mouth, and keep it pressed against the teeth. Hold this for 10 seconds and do it 20 times per day.
  • Palate blowing: Close your mouth and breathe in slowly through your nose. Then, press your lips together to create a resistance and the exhale through your mouth. Try to make the exhaling action last for about five seconds. Do this 10 times, twice a day.
  • Jaw tension: Close your mouth and keep the teeth in close contact. Allow your tongue to rest with the tip positioned in front of the upper teeth. Then try to arch the tough against the roof of your tongue and slide it tip along the roof as far as it can get. Keep your tongue in that position and open your mouth slowly until the tongue is no longer touching the roof. Do this 10 times, twice a day.
  • Open wide: Open your mouth as wide as possible like you would for a doctor. The goal is to strengthen the muscles at the back of your throat. Hold that position for 5 seconds, then repeat 20 times per day.

Breathing Exercises

  • Balloon breathing: Inflate a balloon as much as you can in one exhale. Then, let the air out and repeat. Do this 5-10 times per day to make your breathing stronger.
  • Tongue hold breathing: Hold your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Then, breathe in a controlled manner, in and out for 5 breaths. Repeat this 2-3 times a day.
  • Morning breathing: Do this exercise immediately after you wake up. Stand and bend forward at the waist, letting your arms hang. Bend the knees slightly to maintain your balance. Slowly inhale, rolling your back up slowly, one vertebrae at a time. Let your head be the last to straighten. Hold the breath for 5 seconds while standing, then exhale to lower the body back down to your starting position. Repeat 3-5 times every morning.

Overall Health is Your Greatest Weapon!

Above all, regular exercise and healthy eating is the best way to prevent and/or control any ailments you may face. A healthy body is more efficient at attacking illness and physical issues that arise. A healthy mind is capable of overcoming even the most pressing situations.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult your physician before taking any steps or performing any exercises listed in the article. 


  • “Lower Respiratory Tract: Anatomy, Functions, Diagram.” The Respiratory System, 2018,
  • Nall, Rachel. “Breathing Exercises for Sleep Apnea.” Healthfully, 17 Sept. 2018,
  • Shah, Yagana. “6 Mouth Exercises To Help You Snore Less.” The Huffington Post,, 1 Aug. 2015,
  • “The Respiratory System – Structure And Function.” The Respiratory System – Structure And Function | Biomedical Engineering | Science Museum Jerusalem, 5 June 2013,
  • “Upper Respiratory Tract: Anatomy, Functions, Diagram.” The Respiratory System, 2018,

About the Author


Jason Smith is recognized by the board of polysomnographic technologists (BRPT) as a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) since 2003. He is also Director of Clinical Operations for 6 multi-state sleep diagnostic facilities including the nation’s largest 20 bed sleep disorder testing center. Jason has also been a Co-Author with two research publications featured in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.