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.
Reasons why pregnancy is making you snore
If you’re pregnant, there are many reasons why you could have started snoring.
1) Swollen nasal passages. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases, causing your blood vessels to expand. This can lead to swollen nasal passages, forcing you to breathe through your mouth. This can lead to snoring.
2) Weight gain. Weight gained through pregnancy can lead to increased tissue in the neck and throat. This narrows your upper airway, and restricts your ability to breathe freely.
3) Colds and allergies. Congestion from other causes, like a cold or the flu, can also result in snoring. Nasal irritation often increases at night when snoring is most likely to be a problem.
4) Sleep apnoea. Loud snoring can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Sufferers experience a blockage in their airway that causes them to briefly stop breathing in their sleep. This can happen hundreds of times a night! Look out for these warning signs: gasping/choking noises, loud snoring and daytime sleepiness.
How to treat your snoring
Make sure you’re still making healthy lifestyle choices during your pregnancy. This means avoiding alcohol and tobacco – and trying not to gain more than the recommended amount of weight (you can find more information about that here).
If you suspect you have sleep apnoea, or you’re worried about your snoring, visit your doctor as soon as possible. Loud snoring can lead to high blood pressure, and this can put both you and your pregnancy at risk.
You can treat snoring caused by obstructions of the nasal passages by using a Nasal Spray or Nasal Strips. For more information about finding a snoring solution during pregnancy, click here.
It’s a well-known fact that depression can cause sleep problems. But there is also evidence of sleep problems contributing to depressive disorders. A study found that men with sleep apnoea and insomnia had a much higher rate of depressive symptoms compared with the control population. Of the 700 men examined, 43% of those with both conditions had depression.
What’s the connection?
Sleep-disordered breathing has been linked with depression for some time. Among depressed patients, insomnia is very common. The forms of insomnia can be varied, but mostly include:
Research indicates that the risk of developing depression is highest among people who have trouble staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia) and people with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Sleep apnoea occurs when the muscles in the throat relax too much. The walls of the airway start to stick together, and breathing can then completely stop for around 10-30 seconds at a time.
One study assessed the quality of life in patients who had severe sleep apnoea. The results showed that compared to the normal control subjects, patients with sleep apnoea had a decreased quality of life. They tended to display symptoms that strongly correlated with depression.
Can it be treated?
Both insomnia and sleep apnoea are strongly associated with poor mental health outcomes. And depression is often misdiagnosed because many of its symptoms overlap with those of sleep apnoea. But the good news is that by treating sleep apnoea, the symptoms of depression can be improved.
Doctors often recommend a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnoea. (This works by using air pressure to force air through the breathing obstruction). However, if you find you are unable to use CPAP every night due to discomfort, another option is to wear an oral device in conjuction with it – these appliances gently move your jaw into the right position to open up your airways while you sleep.
If you suspect you’re suffering from either condition, visit your doctor as soon as possible. They’ll be able to recommend the best treatment option for you, and to confirm you are able to use an oral device. Dealing with your sleep disorder can help you feel like a new person – you’ll improve your sleep and your health.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults should try to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. But for those growing older, that number drops to 7-8. This might not seem like much of a difference, but as middle-age approaches, you might start to wake up in the night. This shortens your overall time spent asleep.
With hormonal changes to contend with, women will find this period in their lives an especially difficult time to nod off. Here are five reasons why you might be struggling to get a good night’s sleep.
1) Your internal clock has shifted. In our teenage years, we don’t feel the need to sleep until much later on in the night. But as you grow older, new circadian rhythms kick in, and you tend to start feeling tired earlier on. This means that you might start to feel more alert in the mornings, which can come as a surprise to former night owls.
2) You’re waking up in the night. When we get older, we become much lighter sleepers. This is because our brain waves no longer reach the same heights they used to. These high spikes make sure we slip into a deep, restorative slumber – but when our brain waves don’t climb high enough, we turn into light sleepers. As a result, people find themselves waking up frequently in the night. This problem is made even worse if your partner snores, or uses the bathroom a lot. If snoring is an issue that disturbs your sleep, you can find more information about solutions on the Products tab above.
3) You have a sleep disorder. Sleep apnoea is a frustrating condition that many people are completely unaware they suffer from. If you have a good bedtime routine, but still find yourself nodding off during the day, sleep-disordered breathing could be to blame. A decrease in your throat’s muscle tone often accompanies ageing, and this can make it harder for your airway to stay open while you sleep (causing you to snore). In some cases, the airway becomes so narrow that the walls stick together and close up. This usually happens for 10-30 seconds, but can happen for longer. When the airway finally opens up again, you’ll make a loud, violent snore. This is known as an apnoea. Because your body has to constantly wake itself up in order for you to breathe, you’ll spend the next day feeling tired and unrefreshed. If you suspect you have sleep apnoea, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can find more information on sleep apnoea on the tab above titled Do I Have Sleep Apnoea?
4) The menopause is kicking in. Hot flashes can be your worst enemy when you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep. As well as not being able to regulate your body temperature, sleep-disturbing mood disorders and snoring can also crop up as a result of menopause. You’re more at risk of developing sleep apnoea too – estrogen and progesterone maintain your airway’s muscle tone and keep it from collapsing. As these hormone levels drop, the risk of sleep apnoea increases.
5) You’ve got Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). This is a neurological disorder that is frequently undiagnosed. If you’ve got RLS, you’ll experience a strange, restless feeling in your legs. This is followed by the uncontrollable urge to move your legs to get rid of the feeling. Lying down and trying to relax only makes the feeling worse, which is why it can stop you from getting a good night’s rest. The more this happens, the more likely you are to experience insomnia and daytime sleepiness.
Getting a healthy amount of sleep is important. If your problems persist, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Your sleep is well worth it.