By Sean Zucker –
Any married person who sleeps with earplugs knows that sleep apnea is a big, fat noisy problem. It is also a bit of a mystery, although its cause has often been linked to a person’s bulk. New evidence suggests it may actually boil to a weight issue but just not how you might think. The size of your body matters but apparently so does the girth of your tongue
Generally speaking, sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing (and usually start snoring) while sleeping. The condition affects 22 million Americans, with 80 percent of the moderate to severe cases remaining undiagnosed, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.
Getting a precise handle on anyone’s specific sleep apnea issues requires a detailed sleep study. Not surprisingly, for various reasons—lack of insurance, limited financial resources or not having the time—many sufferers skip the study and simply power through life in a sleep-deprived haze. That a bad and potentially dangerous mistake. If ignored, the condition can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases, memory problems, weight gain, impotence and headaches.
So what can be done, even if the diagnosis is not clear? Most treatments tend to focus on integrating a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine into someone’s life or encouraging them to make lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, reducing alcohol intake, surrendering the use of sleeping pills or quitting smoking. Unfortunately, CPAPs and lifestyle changes don’t always work. The good news is the University of Pennsylvania may have discovered why, finding the answer literally at the tip of our tongues—or maybe better said, in the fat of our tongues.
Pennsylvania researchers have discovered that improvements in sleep apnea symptoms appear directly linked to the reduction of fat in the tongue. Their study claims that surplus weight and mass of your tongue have the ability to clog your airwaves, leading to excessive snoring and decreased oxygen intake.
Okay, that’s a relief but how do you slim down the size of a tongue? Outside of trying to tie a cherry stem or non-stop talking, tongue exercises are hard to come by. A Sleep Apnea cure lies in understanding how a fat tongue is described. It is categorized by the inability to see your uvula (the ball-like protrusion dangling from the back of your throat) while your tongue is out.
Luckily, there are several exercises that can reduce a tongue’s girth and volume. Better still, these “workouts” can be performed quickly in under 9 minutes in the comfort of your own home without consulting a medical professional. The simplest method consists of pushing the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth and sliding it backward, then repeating the process 20 times 3 times per day. Another method entails alternating chewing on either side of your jaw when you eat. Either method is easier than doubling down on crunches at the gym and probably increases your chance of getting a good night’s sleep.