Exercise and Sleep Apnea

Combating Sleep Apnea with Exercise

The constant waking up, the snoring, lethargy and feeling tired during the day despite getting a full night’s sleep, headaches and the complaints from your partner about you keeping them up all night – sound familiar? These are just a few of the symptoms of sleep apnea.

Sleep machines help with these symptoms to be sure, but what about other options for sleep apnea treatment? There are options, one in particular doesn’t require a prescription or special equipment and is able to be done right at home. Additionally, it carries a number of additional benefits as well. It’s exercise.

It may seem hard to believe but by simply exercising you can drastically impact your sleep and help to improve your sleep apnea symptoms.

There are two types of exercises we will discuss in this blog post which help alleviate symptoms. Aerobic/resistance training and oropharyngeal exercises.

Note*: These exercises are not mutually exclusive, that means that they can be performed without interfering with each other.


What are sleep apnea exercises?

The first type of sleep apnea exercise is actual physical exercise – aerobic/resistance training. Many times sleep apnea is directly associated with obesity, and while it is far from the only cause of the condition, it is a major contributor.

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, “being overweight is a high risk factor for developing obstructive sleep apnea ”. This being the case, physical exercises such as running, biking, swimming, jumping rope, weight training as well as other movements to help lose excess weight can be effective in helping sleep apnea symptoms.

Studies support this, according to a study titled, “The Role of Physical Exercise in Obstructive Sleep Apnea” published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “patients involved in a regular, predominantly aerobic, exercise program have shown a reduction in disease severity and in daytime sleepiness, as well as an increase in sleep efficiency and in peak oxygen consumption regardless of weight loss”. Findings of the study proved to be statistically significant.

Perhaps you don’t feel that you have time to run or bike or to workout, maybe you feel self-conscious about going to the gym and being around other people. If that is the case then the second type of sleep apnea exercises, oropharyngeal may just be for you. Oropharyngeal refers to specific exercises you can do with your tongue, throat and palate. The good news, you can do these exercises any time, anywhere and it’s more than likely that no one will ever know you’re doing them!

Here is an oropharyngeal sleep apnea exercise from the National Sleep Foundation to further help your sleep apnea journey.


  • Push the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth and slide the tongue backward. Repeat 20 times.

  • Suck your tongue upward so that the entire tongue lies against the roof of your mouth. Repeat 20 times.

  • Force the back of your tongue downward against the floor of your mouth while keeping the tip of your tongue in contact with your bottom front teeth.


Note*: Before beginning any exercise routine or trying these exercises, be sure to consult with your doctor to see if these sleep apnea treatments are right for you.

A doctor explaining to a patient sleep apnea treatment options during a consultation
Meeting with your doctor about sleep apnea is an important step before starting any exercise program

Other Sleep Apnea Exercises

You can learn more information about sleep apnea and how you can live better while dealing with Sleep Apnea here. While you’re there, check out our diverse line of products, such as the Lumin, contact us or discover how a machine can help you.

Also check out the Lumin Cleaner, it is safe and easy to use, with no harmful ozone which can cause irritation to the lungs and respiratory system. The built in UV lights cleans your sleep equipment and accessories.

November 26, 2019 3

A. Giudice

A Sleep Professional with over 20 years of industry experience, a healthy respect for research and a slightly sarcastic writing style.