Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sleep Apnea & Wind Musicians

A study that was presented this week at SLEEP 2009 in Seattle, Wash., adds to the recent interest in wind instruments and obstructive sleep apnea.

The study surveyed a national sample of professional musicians. There were 760 instrumentalists, as well as 87 conductors and vocalists. They had an average of 30 years of experience; they also played for an average of 15 hours a week.

Results show that about 29 percent had a high risk for sleep apnea; 4.3 percent had been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Musicians who played a high-resistance wind instrument had a lower risk for sleep apnea. The lowest risk was in musicians who played a double-reed, woodwind instrument; examples include the oboe and the bassoon.

The study failed to find the same effect for high-resistance brass instruments; playing the trumpet or horn produced no difference in sleep apnea risk.

Why the difference? The authors suggest that the double-reed woodwinds may promote the natural training of the respiratory muscles.

Results also show that practice time was an important factor.

“The number of hours practiced per week seemed to be the most important variable in lowering risk for OSA,” study author Christopher Ward, PhD, told the AASM.

Double-reed instrumentalists with a low risk for OSA played 17 hours a week on average. Those at high risk practiced for only 8.5 hours per week.

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