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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 08:51 GMT
Didgeridoo 'helps sleep problems'
Man playing a didgeridoo
Playing the didgeridoo for 25 minutes a day helped reduce sleep problems
Daily playing of a didgeridoo can help alleviate sleep problems, a study says.

Swiss researchers found using the instrument for 25 minutes a day helped people with sleep apnoea, the British Medical Journal reported.

The disorder causes the throat to close and breathing to stop, waking the patient, but the sessions helped by strengthening the airways.

UK experts said such exercising of the airways was known to help.

About 5% of the population has the syndrome, which can cause people to wake up regularly during the night, and common advice from doctors is to lose weight.

Exercising the airways in such a way is known to help people with this condition
Neil Stanley, sleep expert

But the team, from the Zuercher Hoehenklinik Wald hospital, decided to investigate whether playing the Aboriginal wind instrument helped patients after hearing reports that it had solved some sleep-related problems.

The team identified 25 people with sleep apnoea and split them into two groups - one which was given daily lessons for four months, while the other was kept on a waiting list for lessons.

Patients who had lessons reported less sleepiness during the day and their partners said there were less disturbances.

Lead researcher Otto Braendli said larger trials were needed to confirm the findings, but said the study offered hope.

"Our results are the first to show that training the upper airways significantly improves sleep related outcomes."

University of Surrey sleep expert Neil Stanley said: "Exercising the airways in such a way is known to help people with this condition.

"There have been reports that people who have done singing have benefited in a similar way. However, most doctors would advise people to lose weight."

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