Playing musical instruments offers many benefits. For one thing, it is a known stress reliever. Additionally, it may increase your memory capacity, make you better at math, and even give you better focusing skills. A recent study conducted in India may have found yet another reason why you should learn to play an instrument. The study found that playing a wind instrument might decrease the chances of developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in people who are at risk. OSA is a form of sleep apnea where soft tissues in your mouth or throat obstruct your airway at night, disrupting your sleep.
Wind Instruments and OSA
Findings presented at the Sleep and Breathing Conference 2015 on April 17th suggest that playing a wind instrument could potentially decrease the risk of developing OSA in individuals displaying high risk factors. Researchers conducted lung function testing on 64 wind instrumentalists and compared their scores to 65 people who did not play any wind instruments. Participants also filled out a Berlin questionnaire, a known method for determining a person’s possible risk of OSA. The Berlin questionnaire asks questions based on known risk factors of OSA, such as asking how often a person feels tired after sleep, or whether or not they snore. Scoring lower than a 1 indicates low sleep apnea risk.
After analyzing results, researchers found that wind instrument players had a relative risk of 0.18 for sleep apnea, indicating a lower risk than the non-wind group. The study does not prove that playing a wind instrument lowers the risk of sleep apnea, but shows that there may be a relationship. Future tests that study the effects of learning a wind instrument in people who are at risk for sleep apnea may provide more conclusive results. Studying the impact of instruments on other forms of sleep apnea such as central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea would also show researchers whether or not instrumentation is a possible means for diminishing sleep apnea symptoms.
A Past Study of Music
The recent study is not the first to focus on wind instruments and obstructive sleep apnea. A study published in June 2012 specifically focused on the impact of playing double reed wind instruments such as an oboe. This study surveyed 906 active musicians over the Internet using the Berlin questionnaire and questions about general health and musical experience. An analysis of the data showed that double reed instrumentalists had a sleep apnea risk of only 0.047, which was lower than any other instrument groups. Unlike the most recent study, this 2012 study found no difference between wind instruments without a double reed and other instrument types.
Treating Your Sleep Apnea
Although neither of these studies can conclusively show that wind instrumentalists are at a lower risk for sleep apnea than other people, they have created a new topic of study for sleep researchers to persue. Research is often a long trial of near misses before problems like sleep apnea are solved. Many studies only find that a possibility exists without solving anything. Fortunately, ongoing research can take these possibilities and continue to test them until solutions are found.
In the mean time, you can manage your sleep apnea with non-surgical sleep apnea treatment here at the TMJ Therapy and Sleep Center of Colorado. Sleep apnea is a disruptive condition that cuts into your sleep, leaving you feeling fatigued during the day. Heart disease, hypertension, and depression have also been linked to sleep apnea. Dr. Berry will work with you to treat your sleep apnea so that you can sleep easy at night. In many cases, a custom sleep apnea appliance can open up closed airways so that you can breath easier. Sometimes, changing behaviors like sleeping on your back or using electronics before bed can also improve sleep apnea symptoms.