Singing Your Way to a Snore Free Night

Music teacher Alise Ojay has developed exercises that she claims will help many people stop snoring. The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital is studying her course, which teaches people how to strengthen the throat muscles she says can help reduce snoring.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And while researchers are trying to find new ways to treat chronic pain, music teacher Alise Ojay is busy finding a way to treat snoring.

Ms. ALISE OJAY (Teacher): I've produced a series of exercises on CDs that you sing along to. The exercises worked different muscles in the back of the throat, but if they become lax can vibrate on the in breath and cause the snoring noise.

MONTAGNE: Alise Ojay spoke to us from Exeter, England. There, the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital is studying her course which teaches people how to strengthen those throat muscles she says can help reduce snoring.

Ms. OJAY: The exercises work the soft palate. They move that up and down. They work the palatopharyngeal arch. That's the arch at the back of your throat that your little uvula hangs from. They also work the tongue and up into the nasopharynx as well.

MONTAGNE: Would you mind terribly demonstrating for us one of your exercises?

Ms. OJAY: Presently, if you make the sound ung-gah, on the ung sound, you can feel your soft palate coming right down and touching the back of your tongue. On the gah, it lifts up. And if you sing it repetitively like I'm about to do for you, you'll really feel it working the soft palate. So one of the exercises would go like this. (Singing) Ung-gah, ung-gah, ung-gah, ung-gah ung-gah, ung-gah, ung-gah, ung-gah, ung-gah. And you would do that for quite a while.

MONTAGNE: Now how did you get the idea that singing would be beneficial for snoring?

Ms. OJAY: Well, a friend of mine was talking about his snoring problem and he demonstrated his snoring noise to me and probably because, you know, I was singing at the time and running a choir and I just heard a lax soft palate and I thought, `Well, you know, I can move my soft palate through singing and I can do it quite strongly and it would be a good exercise for it. Would that tone it up and mightn't that stop him from snoring?' and that was the seed idea.

MONTAGNE: And the study that you're embarking on will test scientifically whether it really works but your personal experience I gather is that it does work at least for some people. What have you found specifically?

Ms. OJAY: Well, specifically, I've had feedback that it's reduced people snoring, people with mild to moderate sleep apnea have contacted me and said they no longer wake themselves in the night, that they're not waking with headaches in the morning. I should say that these exercises will certainly not help everybody. You know, there are different causes of snoring and, I mean, some people snore because they've got very large tonsils, for instance, or they've got polyps in their nose and clearly exercise isn't going to reduce the size of your tonsils. It's really suitable for people who are snoring because those muscles have become lax.

MONTAGNE: Alise Ojay created "Singing for Snorers" and she spoke with us from Exeter, England.

Thanks very much for joining us.

Ms. OJAY: Thank you very much. It's been a real pleasure.

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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