December 23, 2005

Want to Stop Snoring? Try Playing the Didgeridoo

LONDON -- Kept awake at night by a snoring partner? The answer to your woes could lie -- believe it or not -- with the Australian didgeridoo.

Researchers in Switzerland examined 25 patients who suffered from snoring and moderate obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, both common sleep disorders.

Half the group were given daily lessons in playing the didgeridoo, a wind instrument about 1.5 meters (yards) long which originated in northern Australia and is traditionally made from the trunk of a tree hollowed out by termites.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal's online edition on Friday, found that those who played the unusual instrument over a four-month trial period saw a significant improvement in their daytime sleepiness and apnea.

Their partners also reported less disturbance from snoring.

The researchers said training the upper airways through the breathing techniques required to play the didgeridoo was behind the improvement.

"Our results may give hope to many people with moderate obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and snoring, as well as their partners," the report's authors said.