Didgeridoo sales may be about to boom following a Swiss study, which found that the instrument can cure the dangerous condition of sleep apnoea.
Swiss researchers have discovered that playing the Aboriginal instrument reduces snoring and daytime sleepiness for those with obstructive sleep apnoea, reports the British Medical Journal.
The condition occurs when the airway is obstructed during sleep, and results in the sufferer gasping for breath, snoring loudly, snorting and constantly waking up. It carries an increased risk of stroke, heart attacks and high blood pressure.
About five percent of people have the condition that makes their throat close, causing them to wake up in the middle of the night. But playing the Aboriginal wind instrument helped exercise the airways and made sleeping easier.
Playing the didgeridoo requires a controlled breathing pattern, and researchers believed it could help train the upper airways to combat the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea.
After hearing anecdotal reports of how playing the didgeridoo reduced snoring, Swiss sleep experts decided to study how it could be applied clinically. They studied 25 patients with moderate obstructive sleep apnoea and two with a snoring problem.
Half the group were given didgeridoo lessons and asked to practice playing daily at home for four months. The other half were told they were on a waiting list for lessons.
Daytime sleepiness and apnoea scores improved significantly in the didgeridoo group. Partners of patients playing the didgeridoo also reported much less sleep disturbance.
Dr Otto Braendii, from the Zuercher Hoehenklinik Wald hospital in Faltigberg-Wald, who led the research, said larger trials are needed to confirm our preliminary findings. "But our results may give hope to the many people with moderate obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome and snoring, as well as to their partners."