It’s a song we’ve heard before: playing wind instruments can help reduce your risk of sleep apnea and snoring. But is this really true, and if it is, is this really a practical treatment approach?

The Most Recent News

Men playing the clarinetThe most recent excitement around this potential benefit comes from a poster presented at a scientific conference on April 17. The study compared the lung function and Berlin questionnaire results from 64 wind instrument players and 65 controls.

Based on the questionnaire, it seems that the wind instrument players had an 82% lower risk of sleep apnea, but it’s important to put this in perspective.

First, these results are based solely on a questionnaire given to a very small group. No polysomnography was performed to see if there was any difference in the actual incidence of sleep apnea.

The lung function tests showed no significant difference between the two groups, casting doubt on the survey results.

And it’s important to note that this is just a poster session presentation. At scientific conferences, posters are the lowest grade of scientific presentations. They have little to no review of their validity and findings.

Previous Studies on Music and Sleep Apnea

This is not the first time that researchers have looked at this question of whether playing wind instruments can reduce your sleep apnea risk. Previous evidence is mixed, but mostly seems to say no.

The strongest support for a positive effect comes from a study that showed players of double-reed instruments had a lower sleep apnea risk. No other wind instrument players benefited, and based on the specialization of group required to create any effect, it’s possible that it’s a fluke (not a flute–that’s not a reed, let alone a double-reed instrument).

Other studies on the subject show wind instrument players do not have a reduced risk of sleep apnea.

One possible exception is the didgeridoo.

And If It Were?

The other important part of this problem is that even if wind instrument playing helped sleep apnea, is this really a good treatment option? Although some people might want to pick up a wind instrument or resume playing one they played in high school, for most of us, this is a highly impractical treatment option.

Oral appliances make a much more reliable, much more convenient, and more realistic treatment alternative. No lessons. No practices. And no disturbing your family during the day with your terrible tooting until you learn how to play.

To learn more about practical sleep apnea treatment options in Omaha, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with a sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.