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  1. #1
    Oxymoron svartberg's Avatar
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    Svart's Sleep Apnea exercises (viewer discretion advised)

    Got mild sleep apnea, been experimenting with exercises to strengthen the associated orofacial muscles. (tongue, lips, etc)

    Actually saw some minor positive results, but then I thought hey these are just muscles right?
    So I'm gonna try implement bodybuilding theory to them for 6-12 months and see what happens.

    Yes you read it right, I'm gonna do tongue curls with weights, you've just stepped to the wrong side of the internet amigo ...
    But you just wait, it's gonna get even weirder once I start posting photos
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  2. #2
    Oxymoron svartberg's Avatar
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    After tremendous research, I came up with a bunch of muscles responsible for keeping the tongue on the palate, and help prevent the airways from collapsing,

    Tongue Extrinsic/Intrinsic
    • [Ex] Genioglossus & Hyoglossus (aka geniohyoid) - controls forward / backward movement (forward strength is important for holding tongue during sleep)
    • [Ex] Styloglossus - entire tongue elevation & retraction, initiates swallowing, probably very important for correct tongue placement
    • [Ex] Palatoglossus - elevates posterior (back of) tongue, used when swallowing (proper swallowing = entire mouth is static except this muscle)
    • [In] Superior & inferior longitudinal muscle - curl tongue upwards/downwards, when both used together curl to sides (left/right part of muscles), and also responsibles for curling the tongue like a taco.
    • [In] Vertical muscle - flatten/depresses tongue
    • [In] Transverse muscle - narrows/lengthens the tongue
    Lips - Orbicularis oris,
    Jaw (chewing) - Masster
    Front Neck - Sternocleidomastoid & Platysma (aka neck flexors)
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  3. #3
    Oxymoron svartberg's Avatar
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    Here's my starting point exercises before this thread goes to la la land

    The jaw/front neck are widely known and easy to incorporate weights :

    Jaw (Masster) - eat a huge gum, this is easy and works well.
    Front Neck (flexors) - chin tucks, starting vertical at wall then going horizontally and finally with weights, easy to progress



    Unfortunately the tongue/lips only have exercises aimed at kids (see video), requiring many hours a week over 1-2 years

    Tongue Genioglossus & Hyoglossus - stick tongue out as hard as possible
    Tongue Styloglossus & Palatoglossus - practice swallowing while keeping everything static except these muscles (not easy), also tongue pushups
    Tongue Superior & inferior longitudinal - curl tongue try to touch nose/chin/left/right
    Lips - put button with string in mouth, pull as hard as the lips can take, this is good but there's no way to measure progress.



    So ye this is my starting point, and I'm gonna share my progress. In 6-12 months we can see if this actually turns me to an elite nose breather or not
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  4. #4
    Oxymoron svartberg's Avatar
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    doing these 10-15min 3x a week

    - spot swallow - 30s
    - tongue aerobics - 5x 5s per 4x side (up,down,left,right)
    - tongue out, on couch facing up (for gravity) - 10x 5s
    - tongue pushups - 10x tip of tongue only for now
    - lips button hold - 10x 10s
    - chin tucks wall - 8x5s
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    Im interested, been a mouth breather for the last 2 years because of a former menthol nose spray addiction which fkd up my nose. Maybe this can help, sucks ealking around with a weak jaw from mouth breathing
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  6. #6
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    Totally mate
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  7. #7
    Oxymoron svartberg's Avatar
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    Tongue Curls

    Time to add weights to the wimpy "Tongue Aerobics", gonna call these "Tongue Curls"
    Grabbed some tongue depressors for few bucks, and strapped weight to it and got this.



    Just letting gravity do it's thing, can easily be used for up/down/left/right curls.



    The meter from pic is like 140g it really rapes my tongue muscles though, reckon 100g would be better starting point.

    So next challenge is to get better replaceable weights for this, probably needs to be in the 100-300g range.
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  8. #8
    Oxymoron svartberg's Avatar
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    Lip Hold

    Found how to use weight for lip strengthening.
    Used some discarded hipster water bottle I had laying around.

    Filling it with water acts as a cheap easily adjustable weight, 700g is challenging so will start from around that.



    Same idea as the original myofunctional exercise, button between lips & teeth, with the round side touching the lips.
    Facing downward for gravity, bottle within easy grab reach.

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  9. #9
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    - spot swallow - 30s
    - tongue curls - 40g, 5x 5s each side
    - tongue out, on couch facing up (for gravity) - 10x 8s
    - tongue pushups - 10x full tongue
    - lip hold - 440g, 10x 10s
    - chin tucks standing - 10x5s

    started weights for lip hold & tongue curls, lip was way harder than I thought.
    switched to chin tucks standing, no longer assisted by wall

    3 exercises left that need figuring out :
    • Tongue out weights - might be able to use depressor
    • Tongue in - no idea how to even exercise it, unimportant for sleep apnea but important during the day to avoid tongue thrust syndrome
    • Back of tongue - atm spot swallow does it, but need weight & progression.
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  10. #10
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    - Tongue curls up to 68g
    - Tongue out added weight (34g)
    - Chin tucks horizontally elevated

    Regarding chin tucks, tried floor but didn't feel them in mid-back at all, elevated is kinda like image below but got entire torse in the air.

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  11. #11
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    Eliminated Allergens

    The first thing they tell you in myofunctional therapy, is to fix all issues that prevent you to nosebreath, prior to any exercises.

    For the last couple of months I've eliminating all allergen sources from my room.
    • Dehumidifier, my current house reaches up to 85% humidity at night, now I got it at 60% steady.
    • Cleaned aircon professionally from any mould, which is used as a powerful dehumidifier in summer ("dry mode")
    • Some random crap that had synthetic fur in it
    • Air purifier, not as important when there's no carpet tbh, but why not

    The result, sleep improved drastically.I no longer wake up with congestion / headaches.
    I've got a deviated septum, prior to the above the bad side was always blocked, now it's no longer an issue.

    But this is just the start of the journey amigos.
    Obviously, I still mouthbreath at night, easily observed by the dry mouth I have when waking up,
    However now that the external contributors have been taken care of, I can focus on the "mechanical" issues.
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  12. #12
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    - Tongue curls up to 85g
    - Tongue out added weight (46g)
    - Removed tongue pushups, don't see the point

    Also got new flexible chair (Steelcase Gesture), I believe posture plays a huge part in sleep apnea.

    On that note, my midback is getting hammered hard like never before, the famous "prone cobra" exercise is a sad joke compared to this unknown exercise I've been doing, will see how it progresses.

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  13. #13
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    Interesting.
    At age 61, I've exceeded all my prior PRs. Not “over the hill” yet. :)

    My workout journal is here:
    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=176385621
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  14. #14
    Oxymoron svartberg's Avatar
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    - Tongue curls up 158g
    - Tongue out up 68g
    - Lip button hold up 470g
    - Thoracic mobility 1x set, 5x a week

    In a bit of a stump with progressing the thoracic hyper extension.
    Started doing this thoracic mobility to supplement, really struggling with it - https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=LT_dFRnmdGs

    My tongue is much stronger and I can rest it on the palate easier, but still mouth breathing in my sleep ...
    Feeling thoracic posture plays a big role in all of this.
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  15. #15
    Oxymoron svartberg's Avatar
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    Getting bit colder here, and experiencing blocked nose again at nighttime, waking up with dry mouth and feeling unrested.
    Keep doing the tongue exercises, but priority is to figure why my nose gets blocked so easily in almost ideal allergen-free environment.

    Looking up some interesting stuff about opening airways, video below has instantly helped which hints the method might have some merit.
    It's interesting as its aimed at improving athletic performance, so gonna experiment with this for the next 1-2 months.

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  16. #16
    Oxymoron svartberg's Avatar
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    Aight so things are clearer now, sleep apnea is caused by collapse of the (1) Tongue (2) Upper-Airways (3) Soft pallate
    The tongue plays a major part, but I was neglecting weak airway muscles, and as they are muscles they can be trained.
    From my understanding weakness is ultimately caused by modern life, involving soft diet (tongue/jaw/lips not working much) and not screaming loud like our ancestors / animals (vibration strengthens airway muscles)

    So I'm missing training two muscle groups, back of tongue (Styloglossus & Palatoglossus), and upper airways (pending research)

    Tongue curls up to 180g, tongue out 90g, I can't believe how quick & easy it is to strengthen the tongue with weights.
    On that note got a solid tongue barbell'esque contraption using tongue depressors, rubberbands & 20c coins :P

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  17. #17
    Oxymoron svartberg's Avatar
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    Ordered a 3 month program called "Singing for Snorers" which is built to strengthen the inaccessible airway muscles / soft palate / back of tongue.

    Also testing improving CO2 tolerance, which should supposedly help with nose breathing.
    For reference sake, my BOLT / CP score is 11sec, 20-30sec is healthy, 40sec is athletic.
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  18. #18
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    - tongue curls up 226g
    - tongue out up 133g
    - lip holds up 550g

    Been sleeping almost straight on my back for the last 1-2 weeks, though is too early for that imo.
    I think tongue exercises are a nobrainer, haven't chocked on my own tongue for quite a while now :P
    Still long way to go on sleep quality though, airways weak but finally started exercising those muscles.

    Unfortunately, no progression at all on CO2 tolerance the last 2 weeks (buteyko)
    Strengthening the tongue/airways/lips/jaw is easy as it's just muscles and works on same principles of bodybuilding.
    But CO2 tolerance is a completely different beast.
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  19. #19
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    Great news, been busy with new exercises, and seeing MASSIVE improvements in the last 3 weeks.
    Getting better sleep in 6.5h, than what I used to get in 8h, barely woke up in the middle of the night this week, and even my dark under-eyes seem to have slightly reduced.
    I still vividly remember what a great 10/10 sleep feels like, so would not celebrate yet and say am 33% towards my goal.

    Exercises progress:
    1. Singing exercises - halfway on CD 1 (out of 3). I'm impressed with the program so far, despite the unreachable internal muscles it feels like progressive overload.
    2. Co2 tolerance - resumed buteyko steps under better guidance, and improved from my initial (28.33) steps, to (34..60) steps. doing it right is no joke, it's mentally crashing.
    3. Still exercising tongue/lips/jaw/etc, but focusing on improving above 2 with the little free time I have.
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  20. #20
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    - lip holds up to 580g
    - tongue curls up to 270g
    - tongue out up to 170g
    - singing thing almost done on cd1
    - co2 tolerance still struggling to figure out, will keep trying different methods
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  21. #21
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    - Singing started CD2, 2 songs in, nice progressive overload on the airways
    - Built an Co2 inhaler with a mouth piece, just 5min before bed and my airways are open and I feel super relaxed, but it has many issues need to fix.
    - Tongue exercises are up but getting muscle imbalance, gonna tone it down until have an exercise for the tongue going in.
    - Seeing bit of improvement in my lifts as well, which is cool

    Had a top notch epic sleep, vivid dreams, very refreshed in the morning full of energy.
    Last time I had one of those 10/10 sleeps, was last year in Nov which made me research this whole thing.

    Here's some pics of the co2 inhaler, it's great for improving Co2 tolerance, however some air is leaking so it's not complete yet.

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  22. #22
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    Forgot to mention I've jury rigged an apnea mask for the frolov device, no air leaks it's quite good.

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    10 Months Conclusion
    When I started this thread 10 months ago, I was sleeping 8-9h a day and feeling completely trashed when I woke up. Getting less sleep would often result in headaches throughout the day. My energy levels were probably 3/10.
    As I write this I sleep 6-6.5h a day, I feel rested when I get up, energy levels are 7/10 throughout the day.

    Other factors contributed, e.g. I have a bit better ventilation and sorted allergens, but I'd say majority of the progress was thanks to the exercises.
    So yes, these bizarre exercises work for sure, and there's plenty more improvement left

    Impressions of exercises

    Tongue exercises - very easy to do as it's just a muscle (10min, 3x a week)
    As other people with apnea, I would sometimes get choked by my tongue when sleeping, these exercises fixed it FAST, I'd guess 1-2months of work.
    Unfortunately I couldn't find a way to directly work on the muscles to pull the tongue backwards, and back of the tongue going up which caused muscles imbalances and halted progress.
    Overall I'd say this has had 20% effect on my improvement, but no room to improve due to the above issue.

    CO2 Tolerance - it works, it's amazing and also doubles up as meditation, but buteyko is extremely poorly documented and sloooow to progress.
    Hell afaik I'm actually the first one who made a proper nose based frolov rebreather.
    Overall I'd say this has had 40% effect on my improvement, there's plenty to progress with the frolov before I max it out!

    "singing for snorers" Exercises (no homo) : Great way to work the various internal airway muscles, it very much works and has great progression (I'm halfway through the program)
    Problems? (1) it gets boring fast and becomes a chore (2) having a female singer to follow is a HUGE handicap (even if I try to sing 1-2 octaves lower)
    Overall I'd say this has had 40% effect on my improvement, and there's plenty to improve all laid out and ready in the program.

    What's next?

    I've been slacking off in the last couple of months due to the mentioned issues, and also having more energy been focusing more on my actual lifts making good gains.
    But looking back at the huge improvement, will be aiming to improve it further.
    1. Singing - the program is laid out, it's a no brainer to improve. I'm also playing instruments with it to spice it up. Looking to finish CD2 in the next few months, and move to the last CD3 which will likely turn me into barbara streusad.
    2. CO2 Tolerance - looking to move to a narrower tube in the next couple months, after that can start increasing CO2 a bit via a towel. Although there's a limit to how much is possible with the frolov is still far away.
    3. Tongue - can't progress without an exercise for pulling the tongue backwards, so I've lowered it to 10min a week for maintenance only. Might look for a solution some time but is lower priority.
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  24. #24
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    Pitch shifted the singing thing by -2 semitones, way easier to follow now full strength, and really feeling the throat muscles after that workout.
    Also finished learning all songs on CD2, but gonna practice for few weeks at least before moving to CD3.

    Frolov CO2 device down to 6mm tube / 17sec cycles (started on 13mm / 8sec cycles 6 months ago, quite the progress)
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  25. #25
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    - Singing program - doing 3 songs of CD3 now (9 left)
    - Frolov device, up to 19sec cycles (for 15min)

    On an unrelated notes, got some gymnastic rings for the squat rack :P

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  26. #26
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    - Singing program - doing 7 songs of CD3 now (5 left)
    - Frolov device, up to 22sec cycles (for 15min). Probably gonna move down to 5mm soon
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  27. #27
    Oxymoron svartberg's Avatar
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    - Singing program - doing 8 songs of CD3 now (4 left)
    - Frolov device, up to 5mm tubes but had to lower the cycles from 23sec back to 20sec, extremely challenging.
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  28. #28
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    svartberg is offline
    - Singing program - finished CD3, still need to practice more to develop the muscles though.
    - Frolov device - finally back up to 23sec cycles on the 5mm tube

    Although the singing program defo works, it's extremely boring by now going over that CD. (I really struggle to push through those 10min couple times a week)
    Really annoying because I feel like the airway muscles can develop heaps more.

    Oh and I've been sleeping a lot straight up on my back, feels good.
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  29. #29
    Oxymoron svartberg's Avatar
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    Frolov up to 26sec cycles, might move down to 4mm tube soon
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  30. #30
    Oxymoron svartberg's Avatar
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    I'm at 27sec on the 5mm tube (15min cycles)

    I tried 4mm and hit a wall, it's insanely harder (can't even do more than 2-3min cycles), no clue how the buteyko masters do 3mm tubes.
    I'll resume 5mm tube and try keep going until I'm good enough to do at least 6min on the 4mm.

    Oh ye btw I sleep on my back with no problems nowadays, 5-6h a night and wake up with no fatigue or headaches, no dry mouth indicating i use my nose. (not using any sleep apnea devices)
    So I've already hit my goals if anyone was curious, but obv I'm gonna keep going until I get supernatural breathing :P
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