Purpose: Upper airway exercises for snoring treatment can be effective but difficult to administer and monitor. We hypothesized that a brief, relatively simple daily upper airway exercise regimen, administered by a smartphone application, would reduce snoring and encourage compliance.
Methods: Targeted vowel sounds causing tongue base movements were incorporated into a voice-controlled smartphone game application. Participants with habitual snoring, apnea hypopnea index (AHI) ≤ 14 events/h, and BMI ≤ 32 kg/m2 were randomly assigned to perform 15 min of daily gameplay (intervention group) or 5 s of daily voice recording (control group) and to audio record their snoring for 2 nights/week for up to 12 weeks. Sounds above 60 dB were extracted from recordings for snore classification with machine learning support vector machine classifiers.
Results: Sixteen patients (eight in each group) completed the protocol. Groups were similar at baseline in gender distribution (five males, three females), mean BMI (27.5 ± 3.8 vs 27.4 ± 3.8 kg/m2), neck circumference (15.1 ± 1.6 vs 14.7 ± 1.7 in.), Epworth Sleepiness Score (8 ± 3.5 vs 7 ± 4.0), and AHI (9.2 ± 4.0 vs 8.2 ± 3.2 events/h). At 8 weeks, the absolute change in snoring rate (> 60 dB/h) was greater for the intervention group than the control group (- 49.3 ± 55.3 vs - 6.23 ± 23.2; p = 0.037), a 22 and 5.6% reduction, respectively. All bed partners of participants in the intervention group reported reduced snoring volume and frequency, whereas no change was reported for the control group.
Conclusions: Smartphone application-administered upper airway training reduces objective and subjective snoring measures and improves sleep quality.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov ; no.: NCT03264963; URL: www.clinicaltrials.gov.
Keywords: Oropharyngeal exercise; Randomized controlled trial; Smartphone application; Snoring.