Five Fixes for Sleep Apnea


1. Stay off your back

Does your sleep apnea improve when you’re snoozing on your side? This is an old trick for preventing snorers from rolling onto their backs: Fill a tube sock with tennis balls and sew it onto the back of a relatively tight-fitting T-shirt.

2. Play the didgeridoo

When sleep apnea sufferers blew through this aboriginal musical instrument every day for 4 months, they snored less and had 23 percent less daytime sleepiness than those who didn’t play a note, Swiss researchers found. It may be that the repeated action of blowing into the didgeridoo tones your throat muscles, reducing the odds that they’ll sag during sleep.

3. Exercise your airway

If you can’t see yourself tooting a didgeridoo, try throat-toning exercises. Last year, Brazilian researchers found that people who performed a daily 30-minute set of vocal calisthenics, including reciting vowels quickly and continuously, experienced a 39 percent reduction in the severity of their sleep apnea.

4. Wear a mouthpiece

Consider yourself “lucky” if your sleep apnea is caused by retro-gnathia, a.k.a. recessed jaw: The fix might be as simple as wearing a special mouthpiece to bed. These devices are designed to shift your jaw forward and prevent your tongue from falling back in your throat as you sleep. Talk to your dentist, ENT doctor, or a sleep medicine specialist about coming in for a custom fitting.

5. Clear your throat

There are surgical solutions to sleep apnea, such as uvulopalato-plasty, which involves removing sagging throat tissue. However, these procedures work half the time at best, and can occasionally make the situation worse. You should try everything else before considering surgery and you will certainly want to get at least two opinions.