Oropharyngeal exercises in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea: our experience



Oropharyngeal exercises are new, non-invasive, cost effective treatment modality for the treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnoea. It acts by increasing the tone of pharyngeal muscles, is more physiological, and effects are long lasting.

Aim of the study

The aim of our present study was to evaluate the effect of oropharyngeal exercises in the treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnoea.


Twenty patients of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) were given oropharyngeal exercise therapy for 3 months divided into three phases in graded level of difficulty. Each exercise had to be repeated 10 times, 5 sets per day at their home. Oropharyngeal exercises were derived from speech–language pathology and included soft palate, tongue, and facial muscle exercises. Anthropometric measurements, snoring frequency, intensity, Epworth daytime sleepiness and Berlin sleep questionnaire, and full polysomnography were performed at baseline and at study conclusion.


Body mass index (25.6 ± 3.1) did not change significantly at the end of the study period. There was significant reduction in the neck circumference (38.4 ± 1.3 to 37.8 ± 1.6) at the end of the study. Significant improvement was seen in symptoms of daytime sleepiness, witnessed apnoea, and snoring intensity. Significant improvement was also seen in sleep indices like minimum oxygen saturation, time duration of Sao2 < 90 %, sleep efficiency, arousal index, and total sleep time N3 stage of sleep at the end of study.


Graded oropharyngeal exercise therapy increases the compliance and also reduces the severity of mild to moderate OSAS.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Roshan K. Verma.

Ethics declarations

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of Interest

All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria, educational grants, participation in speakers’ bureaus, membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership or other equity interest, and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge, or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.


There is no conflict of interest or financial disclosure to be made.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

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This material has never been published and is not currently under evaluation in any other peer-reviewed publication.

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Video 1

showing three phases of oropharyngeal excercises. (WMV 10771 kb)

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Verma, R.K., Johnson J, J.R., Goyal, M. et al. Oropharyngeal exercises in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea: our experience. Sleep Breath 20, 1193–1201 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11325-016-1332-1

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  • Obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Oropharyngeal exercise therapy
  • Polysomnography
  • Effectiveness