Exceptionally quiet at night
Interview by Sanne Stria, SLP & speech trainer at www.ausgesprochengut.at in German.
Snoring – Phew! This nighttime disturbance is an extraordinary burden for every relationship and a danger for a restful sleep, and it tears the nerves. Years ago I tried to help snorers by special training of the throat muscles. Unfortunately, none of them stayed long enough, so I have not enough experience to report. But my colleague Dario Lindes has focused on this issue in his therapeutic practice for many years, already writing his diploma thesis during his education, and with a company he has recently launched the SnoreFree app!
For all those who suffer from snoring, this is a good way to regain a peaceful sleep by training the specific muscles in the mouth and throat.
SnoreFree App Details
This is what Dario Lindes says about his SnoreFree APP: “The SnoreFree app tries to copy a real live therapy in a digital modus. It contains a series of 48 exercises, presented in videos and verbally described. By means of a special algorithm and a feedback system with the user, a personalized daily training program consisting of 3-4 exercises is created and delivered to the customer. The included daily reminder calls the user to his daily work out, motivating with many incentives and goodies.
The SnoreFree training is structured in 4 levels following the structure of a regular myofunctional therapy:
Level 1: Introduction: first view and getting to know all exercises.
Level 2: Mirror training, learning and practicing the exercises in front of a mirror (for visual feedback)
Level 3: “blind” training, practicing without the mirror – to hone and school the physical sensitivity and body awareness in the targeted area (where the snoring origins)
Level 4: long-term training, to hold and stabilize the therapy success in the long run
This modern app can provide a very good therapeutic care for many people suffering from sleep-related breathing impairments. However, working with an app training requires a lot of discipline and personal responsibility of the user because of the absence of a live control by a therapist. On the other hand this portable solution offers an easy, comfortable and convenient access to a treatment form that many patients would otherwise not get.
In the future, digital health applications will become increasingly important and will find their way into the medical care system. Health apps will certainly soon be part of the standard repertoire in the whole medical therapy concept.
However, the optimum option is always a combination between a live treatment with a real therapist (SLP) accompanied by this app, because the videos help memorizing the exercises for the home work training.
How did the app come about?
The idea of developing this app came from a very satisfied former client of mine, who is now my business partner and CEO of the company. He was so enthusiastic about the effect on his own sleep that he immediately felt the urgency to distribute and provide my anti-snoring training supra-regional, worldwide, to the millions of suffering people.
How did i come to the idea?
When I came into contact with myofunctional therapy (for swallowing, neuro-rehabilitation, pronunciation disorders) during my SLP education, I immediately saw the connection that snoring could be seen as a myofunctional weakness in the pharynx (oropharyngeal dysfunction). And since we speech therapists are primarily responsible for all muscular trainings in the oropharyngeal region (mouth, throat and pharynx), this topic should lie in our therapeutic competence. And so I wanted to introduce snoring and sleep-related breathing impairment as a new discipline into speech therapy.
Subsequently, I started to create my own logopedic training program – based on already existing exercises for swallowing therapy (dysphagia, tongue thrust), voice therapy (with singing technique), as well as phonetic therapy, only modified and tailored to snorers and sleep apnea patients. At that time, at the end of my studies, I wrote my diploma thesis on this topic with the title “Logopedic-myofunctional therapy for rhonchopathy (snoring)” including a pilot study with 10 subjects – in cooperation with our ENT department and the sleep laboratory our federal hospital – treating them with my specially designed exercise program. The participants underwent one live therapy session with me per week over 10 weeks, of course together with home working. At the end we could really measure statistically a significant improvement of the snoring sounds (recorded by mobile sleep detector).
This result made us very euphoric and hopeful that logopedic technique could become a new, alternative approach in treatment concept for snoring and breathing reductions in sleep. And I decided to dedicate my further therapeutic career to this entire topic.
Anatomy and physiology of snoring
Basically, there are 3 anatomical locations in the pharynx where snoring and airway constrictions in sleep can be traced back:
- At the soft palate: when the velum with the uvula – the dangling tissue – slackens and vibrates in the air flow
- The root of the tongue: this is the rearmost part of the tongue descending into the pharynx. The tongue slides back into the throat during sleep and obstructs the airway
- The entrance of the larynx: when the epiglottis, a sealing flap over the voice box, covers the trachea or windpipe and thus closes the access to the lungs.
The 1st version is mainly known as the notorious snoring (sounding close to a pig grunt), which is so annoying for the partner.
These areas all have muscles, so they can be trained just like any other muscle in the body. Because a well-trained muscle is tighter, smaller, requires less space, has a higher basic tension, thus intruding less into the respiratory channel and hampering the airflow.
The primary target area of the exercises is the throat with the rear part of the tongue, the tongue root, it plays an essential role in working out the entire pharynx. All pronunciations in which this back part of the tongue moves up and down i.e. the K, G, Y and NG, are in particular useful for mobilizing this area. By means of these 4 consonants we get a wonderful and effective tongue gymnastics: find words and syllables with these 4 sounds K, G, Y and NG in it, speak them slowly and distinctly for several minutes and observe your rear tongue part lifting and releasing.
In this context, the question would be interesting if there is a connection between snoring and languages, how the prevalence of snoring in a population combines with the language spoken there. When a different oral behaviour due to the phonetic structure of a language causes a higher activity and moving of the tongue and the entire throat area. In particular I am thinking of Arabic or some German dialects like Swiss, where many guttural sounds (coming from the throat) can be found. But data to this question are completely missing.
The standard therapies in medicine against snoring (and sleep apnea) are mostly invasive, harmful, many causing pains, but with rather limited success. A treatment of the root cause, i.e. the muscular weakness in the rear mouth and throat, was completely missing. So there was the urgent need to search for a soft and smart alternative.
During the past years i received so many desperate phone calls from abroad, from neighbouring countries, with people begging for help and how they could get my therapy. To my sadness, however, i couldn’t serve their wishes due to geographical distance. This showed me the necessity for making my new therapy approach available to people beyond the borders worldwide, since there are soooo many sufferers globally.
The newly created SnoreFree app covers this need.
SnoreFree can be found in all app stores on iOS and android.
I am Dario Lindes, self-employed speech-voice therapist (USA: SLP) in Vienna, with specialization on treating sleep-related breathing obstructions.
This is the English translation of the German original article on ausgesprochengut.at
December 5, 2021