Snoring is more dangerous than what one might think. It can be reduced to collapsibility of the upper airways during sleep. In case of a related sleep disorder, the obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome, the affected person regularly looses the ability to breathe for 10 seconds or more. Both of the disorders can lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. But apart from that, a daytime sleepiness and the disturbed sleep of the partner are quiet sure consequences of the snoring problem.
Luckily, the scientists Puhan ed al. proved the positive effects of a new therapy, based on a randomised controlled trial with 25 participants: playing the didgeridoo. This traditional Australian instrument consists of not more than a hollowed tube, which the instrumentalist causes to vibrate with his airflow and his lip tension. Quiet unique for the didgeridoo is the required technique of the circular breathing. It enables the player to breath in and out at the same time, using the cheeks as bellows. Only in this way, the typical uninterrupted humming sound of the didgeridoo can be produced. Besides the musical experience, this technique also has a purely physical effect on the player: the training of his upper airways, which control airway dilation and wall stiffening.
After four month of practicing 20 minutes a day, however, the patient’s collapsibility of the upper airways decreased, the daytime sleepiness was reduced and the partner was much less disturbed in his sleep. The new treatment is not only effective, but also motivating enough to be used by he patients, many of whom even practiced more than the protocol asked for.
In the end, there is only one question remaining for the partner of the snorer: if he prefers the humming sound in the living room or the snoring sound in the bedroom.
Puhan, M. (2006). Didgeridoo playing as alternative treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome: randomised controlled trial BMJ, 332 (7536), 266-270 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.38705.470590.55