If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, and you're frustrated with conventional treatment options, you may feel an urge to look at alternative options. If you spend enough time researching this, you'll find a number of strange, interesting and sometimes bizarre ways of treating sleep apnea. To save you some time, I've listed 7 unusual ways below, along with my personal opinions for why it may or may not work:

1. Singing for snorers. There are various programs that teach snorers ways of singing to tighten throat and tongue muscles which in theory can lessen the severity of snoring. I haven't see any scientific studies validating this method, but I can imagine that singing in general can make you feel good. Singing or speaking is activated by the vagus nerve, which is a part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the relaxation half of the involuntary nervous system. Yoga-based deep breathing exercises also teach that exhalation should be longer than inhalation. Interestingly, exhalation, like when you sing, also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. When you spend a longer time exhaling than inhaling, you'll definitely feel better.

2. Tongue exercises. Various programs are available over the internet to teach snorers tongue, mouth and throat exercises, presumably to keep the tongue's resting position at the roof of the mouth, keeping the mouth closed and breathing more through the nose. By toning the tongue and throat muscles, it probably also causes less obstructions during non-REM deep sleep, when muscles are only partially relaxed.

3. Playing the didgeridoo. This Australian Aborigine wind instrument has been shown in a research study to significant lower sleepiness and apnea-hypopnea scores. The AHI dropped about 6 points (from an average of 21). Similar to singing, profound throat and tongue muscle control is thought to provide extra stimulation to the muscles, leading to less collapse.

4. Playing and oboe, bassoon, or English horn. These double-reeded instruments require much more intense lip and mouth motor control. Musicians playing these instruments were found to be significantly less susceptible to obstructive sleep apnea, as compared with regular wind instruments.

5. Acupuncture. A placebo controlled study showed that acupuncture lowered the AHI on average by about 50%. It probably somehow realigns the imbalance that's seen of the two halves of the involuntary nervous system.

Warning: Don't try these last two options on your own. These are investigational medical options and as far as I know, are not available to the general public.

6. Mirtazapine. This is an antidepressant that in clinical trials was found to lower the average AHI by about 50%. It probably somehow increases neuromuscular tone in non-REM deep sleep, or suppresses REM sleep so that you spend more time in non-REM deep sleep.

7. Glossopharyngeal nerve stimulator. A nerve stimulator is implanted onto the nerve that stimulates the tongue on one side. This is paced with the diaphragm. So when you inhale, it stimulates the tongue, tensing it and preventing collapse.

Here's a bonus:

8. Provent nasal plugs. These are adhesive plugs that cover up each nostril, with a two-way hole: As you inhale, air flows smoothly, but when you exhale, there's a little bit of resistance, building up pressure in your throat at the end of your breathing out cycle, preventing your throat from collapsing. It's FDA approved for obstructive sleep apnea. It does seem to work to various degrees in different people. You need a prescription from a doctor to try it out.

Notice a common theme? Many of these options involve exercising the tongue and throat muscles, ultimately changing neuromuscular properties of the musculature. None of these work as well as the three conventional options for treatment (CPAP, dental devices and surgery), but worth looking into if nothing works.

Author's Bio: 

Besides CPAP and oral appliances, one option that's not very well understood is surgery for sleep apnea. For a free report on "The Truth About Obstructive Sleep Apnea Surgery," go to thetruthaboutosasurgery.com. Dr. Steven Y. Park is an otolaryngologist and author of Sleep, Interrupted: A physician reveals the #1 reason why so many of us are sick and tired. It was endorsed by New York Times best-selling authors Christiane Northrup, M.D., Dean Ornish, M.D., Mark Liponis, M.D., Mary Shomon, and many others. sleepinterrupted.com