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You’ve heard of “singing for one’s supper”, but have you heard of “singing for sleep apnea”?
If singing exercises for sleep apnea as a treatment is a new concept to you, you’re in for a treat, because in this article you’ll learn all you need to know about this extraordinary and effective therapy.
And not only that, we’ll also give you a specific example of a song that can be used for your particular singing exercises! Let’s jump in!
How Do Singing Exercises Eliminate Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea develops when specific muscles of the mouth and throat — as well as tissues that make up the soft palate, the tongue and the palatopharyngeal arch — become lax.
When you are asleep, the flabby muscles and tissues relax and collapse on each other, and the airways become blocked. In addition, the loose muscles and tissue cause vibrations when you snore. It also disrupts your breathing.
Singing exercises target and strengthen the flabby muscles and tissues. With regular and consistent practice, muscle strength is restored and the soft palate becomes less susceptible to blocking your throat and disrupting your breathing.
That’s all well and good, you might think, but where’s the proof? Numerous studies that have proven the effectiveness of singing exercises:
One study published in the International Journal of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery concluded that :
“Improving the tone and strength of pharyngeal muscles with a 3 month program of daily singing exercises reduces the severity, frequency and loudness of snoring, and improves symptoms of mild to moderate sleep apnea”.
Another study undertaken at the University of Exeter concluded that : “Snoring was on average reduced, especially in subjects who performed the exercises accurately and consistently”.
Will Singing Therapy Cure My Sleep Apnea?
Singing therapy is ideal for all snorers and for the majority of sleep apnea sufferers. The exercises are safe for men, women and children.
You do not have to be a good singer to do the singing exercises, and you do not have to be able to carry a tune. If you have the vocal ability to speak, then you have the vocal ability to sing, too.
Singing therapy for sleep apnea and snoring can be undertaken by virtually any sufferer. The only exceptions would be individuals whose particular health conditions preclude even mild exercise.
The therapy is most effective for patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea that is caused by flabby muscles and tissues in the nose and throat.
Of course, if the obstruction is due to a nasal blockage such as a deviated septum, singing exercises would not be effective. Additionally, if you suffer from the severest form of OSA, singing therapy might provide little benefit.
Singing therapy is also not effective for sufferers of central sleep apnea. That is because CSA is caused by faulty signaling from the brain, and has nothing to do with the mechanics of the mouth and/or throat.
Bottom line : if you have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, then singing exercises could be the sleep apnea treatment you’re looking for!
You can speed up the results obtained from your singing therapy by incorporating some lifestyle changes that include :
- Other home remedies for sleep apnea
- Reducing your alcohol intake
- Losing excess weight
- Stopping smoking
- Cardiovascular exercises such as walking, jogging, running or dancing
To fully strengthen the tongue and throat, the exercises must be done each day for at least 20 minutes. Thirty minutes would be ideal.
During the course of the exercises, you will use similar sounds and tones that are generated in the parts of the throat that are implicated in sleep apnea.
With regular practice, the exercises can very soon become a part of your daily routine, in much the same way as your physical exercises.
In fact, you could combine the singing exercises with other types of sleep apnea exercises (including mouth and throat exercises for sleep apnea), as well as your regular at-home exercises such as stationary cycling, rowing or walking on a treadmill.
What Are the Other Benefits of Singing Therapy?
Singing therapy for sleep apnea has clear and important advantages over other treatments. To illustrate, singing therapy is:
While invasive surgery is often the ultimate treatment for sleep apnea that has progressed beyond the help of any other treatment, you can use singing therapy to strengthen the muscles in your nose and throat so as to treat less severe forms of obstructive sleep apnea.
When you treat your sleep apnea with effective alternative therapy, you will more than likely reduce the risk of having to undergo an invasive surgical procedure at some future date.
You may or may not completely cure your sleep apnea with singing exercises, but the therapy will result in marked improvements without any harmful side effects. In addition, singing therapy will boost your psychological health.
Singing is an enjoyable activity that goes beyond toning the tissues and muscles in your nose and throat. Singing relieves tension and it promotes a positive outlook. It also improves lung function and capacity.
It does not cost a lot of money to learn voice exercises. The biggest outlay will be your time, because singing therapy requires a commitment to regular practice if you are to achieve the optimum results.
It’s also important to note that while singing therapy for sleep apnea is a fairly new sleep apnea treatment without CPAP, therapeutic singing has been used for years to treat patients with depression, stroke and autism.
Example of a Specific Song for Sleep Apnea
The songs used for the singing exercises are not like regular songs. They are sung to the tune of well-known songs, but they are based on the repetition of a limited number of sounds. The sounds are typically “yah”, “ah”, “mm”, “hee” or “ho.”
In some cases, the sounds are hummed rather than sung. This is especially true of the “mm” sound.
One example of a specific song for sleep apnea is sung to the tune of the song Early One Morning. You can listen to the song on YouTube.
When you do your singing exercises to this tune, you will only use the “yah” sound. Each verse is comprised of five lines, with the repetition of varying numbers of “yah”, “yah”, “yah” in each line.
Are you ready to try this? Here goes!
Using the tune of Early One Morning, sing this:
Line one: yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah
Line two: yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah
Line three: yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah
Line four: yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah
Line five: yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, yah
Now, take a rest, and then repeat the song — singing more loudly with each repetition.
There is no right or wrong time of the day for doing the singing exercises. You should do them at the time of day or night that is most convenient for you. The important thing is to be consistent.
Sleep Apnea Singing Tips
- Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed
- Keep your chin relaxed and in a neutral position: not too high or too low
- Start slowly at the outset, just to make sure you do not strain your vocal chords
- Sing at the back of the mouth. This increases the strengthening of the soft palate
- Focus on the areas in your mouth that are being exercised, being aware of the full sensory experience
- Stress the sounds for absolute precision
- Once you have become accustomed to the exercises, sing with enjoyment, enthusiasm and abandon. No one is judging you!
- Be diligent and disciplined about your singing exercises: Commit to a daily routine of at least 20 minutes
- Be patient: It will take a few months of singing practices before you reap the benefits. Some people do not see the results because they get discouraged and give up on the exercises before the therapy has had sufficient time to work
Once you have started the singing exercises for sleep apnea therapy, it will be only natural for you to wonder if you are indeed deriving any benefit from the exercises. This is when feedback from your bed partner becomes crucial.
Enlist the help of your bedmate to monitor your progress. He or she can let you know if you are snoring less. Since it takes approximately three months for the symptoms of sleep apnea to be reduced or eliminated, it is best to wait at least six weeks before checking your progress.