New research shows that people who play wind instruments display less signs of snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). So if you’re worried about your snoring, and a flute doesn’t appeal to you – don’t panic. You can always try a saxophone or the clarinet instead.
A study in sound
A new study split participants into two categories: people who played high resistance wind instruments (like an oboe or a trumpet) and people who didn’t play any form of wind instrument. The participants were also given a questionnaire to fill in. This was designed to assess their risk of snoring, daytime sleepiness and high blood pressure – all symptoms of sleep apnoea. All players and non-players then had their lung functions evaluated.
Interestingly, the study revealed that there was no link between improved lung functions and a lower risk of developing sleep apnoea. But there was evidence of sleep apnoea being reduced in wind instrument musicians. This is because the players tended to have increased muscle tone in their upper airways.
Why do we need good muscle tension?
We need good muscle tone to keep the upper airway open properly during the night. This stops the vibration of the soft tissue in the throat – the sound we hear as snoring.
When wind musicians play their instruments, they exercise the throat muscles that usually collapse or narrow when a person snores. Because of this strengthened muscle tone, they are less likely to develop OSA.
Reduce your risk of sleep apnoea
If you’re keeping your partner awake all night, it might be the perfect time to learn a new skill. However odd it sounds, a flute or a trumpet could be the answer to a good night’s sleep – and studies have shown that even didgeridoos can improve the symptoms of sleep apnoea.
But if picking up a new instrument seems like a little too much work, an oral device could provide you with effective relief. It works by gently holding your jaw in the right position while you sleep; this works on those muscles, opens your airway and helps you breathe easily. Another option is to use a CPAP machine. It supplies a constant stream of air through a face mask, helping to prevent your airway from collapsing.
If you suspect you might be suffering from sleep apnoea, we recommend that you visit your doctor as soon as possible. Don’t leave it to chance - your sleep and your health are worth it.