By Marygrace Taylor
If you or your partner suffer from chronic snoring, singing may be the answer to a better night’s sleep.
Singing exercises may alleviate symptoms of snoring in those suffering from certain types of sleep apnea, according to a recent British study. Researchers recruited 127 adults with a history of snoring or mild-to-moderate sleep apnea. Half of the study participants were asked to complete self-guided singing exercises contained on a CD for 20 minutes daily, while the other half received no intervention. After three months, participants who practiced singing exercises daily reduced the severity, frequency and loudness of their snoring. The control group, however, showed no changes.
Snoring can be caused by weak muscles in the soft palate and upper throat, especially in older adults. “As we age, throat muscles become softer and are more likely to collapse. The idea is that singing exercises helps tighten or strengthen those muscles,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine spokesperson Dr. William Kohler.
?Playing musical instruments appear to offer snoring relief in a similar way. One British Medical Journal study found that daily practice on the didgeridoo, a traditional Australian wind instrument, improved symptoms in adults with moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Among musicians, those who play double-reed woodwinds, such as the oboe or bassoon, appear to have a lower obstructive sleep apnea risk compared to those who play other instruments, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Like singing, the didgeridoo and double-reed instruments put pressure on the throat, which help strengthen the weak muscles that can cause snoring, Kohler said.
For now, there’s no official stance on using singing exercises to treat snoring or sleep apnea. However, since singing is easy, inexpensive and free of negative side effects, it may be worth discussing with your doctor. “The gold standard is CPAP, but not everyone tolerates it,“ Kohler noted. "So it’s also important to look at other things like weight loss, good sleep hygiene and education on other habits that could help reduce sleep apnea.”