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Breathing Exercises for Sleep Apnea

author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Breathing Exercises for Sleep Apnea
Breathing exercises help sleep apnea sufferers sleep more soundly. Photo Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Sleep apnea is a condition where you cease breathing several times at night while you sleep. Two chief causes exist: your throat tissue obstructs the airway or your brain fails to signal your muscles to breathe. Either occurrence results in unrefreshing sleep, snoring, high blood pressure, heart problems and more. Performing breathing exercises is one treatment technique your physician may recommend. These exercises can strengthen the throat muscles, reducing sleep apnea symptoms, according to “The New York Times.”

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Balloon Breathing

Breathing to inflate a balloon can strengthen the throat muscles, according to, a non-profit educational wellness website. Take a balloon and place your lips around the opening. Breathe in through your nose, then blow into the balloon. Inflate the balloon as much as you can with your exhale, then breathe in release the air. Without taking the balloon away from your mouth, repeat the exercise five times. Stop if you begin to feel lightheaded.

Tongue Hold

This exercise simulates your breathing at night, training your body how best to breathe. Press the tongue to the roof of your mouth. Try to place more than the tongue’s tip -- use as much length as you can. Breathe in and out through the nose in a slow, controlled manner as you hold the tongue in place.

Morning Breathing

Perform this exercise immediately upon waking up each morning. Stand and bend forward at the waist, letting the arms dangle loosely. 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 3 to 5 seconds while standing, then exhale to lower the body back down to your starting position. Repeat two to three times.


Breathing exercises are linked with treating mild cases of sleep apnea -- not ones that cause more severe symptoms, such as long periods of not breathing. If you experience sleep apnea or suspect you may have the condition, see your physician before solely self-treating your sleep apnea with exercises. Examples include your partner telling you that you snore loudly or appear to have breathing interruptions when you sleep. If you consistently feel tired throughout the day, even when you have slept a sufficient amount of time, this can be another symptom associated with sleep apnea and indicate the need for medical treatment.

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