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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
Singing could help a silent night
man sleeping
Snoring is potentially dangerous
A clinical trial is under way to see if millions of snorers could sing themselves to a good night's sleep.

A Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital ear and throat specialist is examining a course devised by local singing teacher Alise Ojay.

They believe singing exercises designed to strengthen the throat could help snoring, as well as a condition known as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

It is thought OSA may contribute to road accidents and hypertension.

Consultant otolaryngologist Malcolm Hilton is leading the trial to establish whether the conditions can be reduced or eradicated.

Snoring might not be life threatening, but it can be enormously disruptive to people's lives
Malcolm Hilton, otolaryngologist

Weak muscles in the soft palate and upper throat can be a cause of snoring and OSA - and serious singers use singing exercises to strengthen these muscles.

A limited pilot study done by Exeter based singing teacher Alise Ojay in 1999, with the support of the University of Exeter, suggested the exercises could help snorers.

As a result of that trial she designed the Singing for Snorers course.

Mr Hilton is now testing the idea with a controlled clinical trial with 60 patients who are chronic snorers, and 60 patients with mild to moderate sleep apnoea.

Half of each group will actively sing the exercises for three months and half will have no intervention.

Throat muscles

Mr Hilton said: "Millions of people are affected by snoring and OSA.

"Snoring might not be life threatening, but it can be enormously disruptive to people's lives and snorers often seek medical help.

"OSA can be much more serious, causing people to stop breathing during deep sleep."

Ms Ojay said: "My Singing for Snorers programme targets the particular muscles of the throat that are implicated in snoring and OSA, and gives them a real workout."

Researchers are still looking for volunteers who will need to be referred by their GP.

The trial is expected to last about two years.

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