snoring mate | vocal exercises reduce snoringCan this marriage be saved?

You: prone to insomnia and sensitive to noise. Cat fights and flushing toilets wake you up at night. Thunder jolts you awake to a pounding heart.

Your mate: considerate, generous, perfect in every way except one: snoring.

No, it’s not sleep apnea. You lie awake with insomnia so you know exactly what your partner sounds like: it’s a steady breathing in and out without pauses or gasps for air. But every intake of breath is a throaty juddering so loud your silicone earplugs may as well be made of gauze.

Eventually the snoring drives you out of the bedroom and onto the living room couch, and you’re fed up. A more permanent solution has begun to feel inevitable: separate bedrooms or, if your bedroom big enough, separate beds (and who knows where that will lead?).

But wait. Oropharyngeal exercises may turn your snoring partner into the quiet sleeper of your dreams.

Oropharyngeal Exercises?!

“Oro” means mouth, and “pharyngeal” refers to the region of the pharynx, where the nasal passages join the mouth and throat. The exercises mainly involve manipulating the mouth and tongue. They’re definitely worth trying, results of a new clinical trial suggest. Wearing snore strips at night and doing oropharyngeal exercises for 3 months significantly reduced the frequency of snoring in study subjects by 36 percent and the total power of snoring by 59 percent.

The exercises are easy and can be done while driving to and from work. Here they are:

  1. With mouth open, place the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth and slide it backward. Repeat 20 times.
  2. Suck the tongue upward so that the entire tongue lies against the roof of the mouth. Repeat 20 times.
  3. Keeping the tongue in contact with the bottom front teeth, force the back of the tongue to lie against the floor of the mouth. Repeat 20 times.
  4. Elevate the back of the roof of the mouth while saying the vowel “A”. Repeat 20 times.
  5. Place a finger in the mouth and press outward on the wall of the cheek. Do this 10 times on each side.
  6. When eating, alternate chewing and swallowing from one side of the mouth to the other.

Would pictures make these instructions easier to follow? Visit ScienceDaily and click on the images to enlarge them.

If your partner is as considerate and generous as we assumed in the beginning, all it should take is a request and some instruction on your part to motivate them to get down to business. If your partner balks, float the idea of separate bedrooms or separate beds. See if the prospect of reduced intimacy brings them to their senses. If not (or if doing the exercises doesn’t help), well, maybe it’s time to invest in another bed.

No matter how good the marriage, a sleeping arrangement that interferes with one partner getting a good night’s rest is ultimately unsustainable. Face the music now.

Posted by Lois Maharg, The Savvy Insomniac

Lois Maharg has worked with language for many years. She taught ESL, coauthored two textbooks, and then became a reporter, writing about health, education, government, Latino affairs, and food. Her lifelong struggle with insomnia and interest in investigative reporting motivated her to write a book, The Savvy Insomniac: A Personal Journey through Science to Better Sleep. She now freelances as an editor and copy writer at On the Mark Editing.

6 Comments

  1. Where did the custom of sleeping together begin? We’ve been brainwashed into thinking it’s the norm. For centuries Europeans maintained separate bedrooms and the White House has a separate bedroom for the First Lady. A woman’s boudoir has it’s own romantic, sex appeal. For intimacy and closeness, separate bedrooms are simply a few steps away.

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    1. Hi Jericho,

      As I was writing The Savvy Insomniac, I did lots of historical research on attitudes and beliefs about sleep and insomnia and how they’ve changed over the years. I didn’t much look into sleeping arrangements. But it’s true that couples sharing a bed is not (or has not been) the norm in every culture.

      In Europe, I think only the upper classes had the luxury of sleeping in separate bedrooms. A. Roger Ekirch has written a wonderful history of the night in pre-industrial Europe called At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past. What I recall about the sleeping arrangements of ordinary people is that many of them ended up sleeping 2 and 3 and 4 to a bed. Not only that, but a traveler who stopped for the night at an inn sometimes had to share a bed with another traveler (a stranger).

      Thanks so much for your comment. I agree, there can be several advantages to having separate bedrooms.

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  2. Thanks, Lois!

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  3. You’re welcome, Celia. Glad you found the information helpful.

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  4. What about when you both snore but it’s a minute health reason? Him is nasal damage as a child, her is myofascial pain syndrome…..sorry my spelling is crap insomnia sucks

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    1. Hi Crystal,

      I’m sorry to hear about the nasal damage and the myofascial pain. Both could well be related to snoring, not to mention interfering with sleep.

      Good luck in finding ways to manage that pain. If both you and your partner snore and/or have other sleep problems, I would definitely recommend sleeping in separate beds.

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