Risk of obstructive sleep apnea lower in double reed wind musicians

J Clin Sleep Med. 2012 Jun 15;8(3):251-5. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.1906.


Study objectives: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a collapse of the upper airway. Respiratory muscle training with a wind instrument (didgeridoo) in patients with moderate OSA has been previously shown to improve OSA symptomology. However, a survey of orchestra members did not indicate a difference in OSA risk between wind and non-wind instrumentalist. The present study examines whether playing of different wind instrument types may affect the risk of OSA.

Methods: A national sample of active musicians (n = 906) was surveyed through the internet. Participants' risk for OSA was determined by the Berlin Questionnaire. Additional survey items included questions about general health and musical experience.

Results: A binary logistic regression was conducted to determine if OSA risk was predicted by gender, age, number of years playing instrument, number of hours per week playing instrument, and instrument type. Musicians who played a double reed instrument had a lower risk of OSA (p = 0.047) than non-wind instrumentalists. Additionally, in double reed instrumentalists, the number of hours spent playing the instrument predicted lower OSA risk (p = 0.020). The risk for OSA in other wind instruments (i.e., single reed, high brass, and low brass) was not significantly different from non-wind musicians.

Conclusions: Playing a double reed musical instrument was associated with a lower risk of OSA.

Keywords: Obstructive sleep apnea; epidemiology; risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music*
  • Occupations* / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wakefulness