Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Digeridoo Playing & Sleep Apnoea

An article in the NYT drew my attention, as I have just done the aforementioned sleep test the night before last. It was about throat exercises to reduce the incidence and severity of sleep apnoea.

The exercises are described here.

In a study published last year in
The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
, scientists recruited a group of people with obstructive sleep apnea and split them into two groups. One was trained to do breathing exercises daily, while the other did 30 minutes of throat exercises, including swallowing and chewing motions, placing the tip of the tongue against the front of the palate and sliding it back, and pronouncing certain vowels quickly and continuously.

After three months, subjects who did the throat exercises snored less, slept better and reduced the severity of their condition by 39 percent. They also showed reductions in neck circumference, a known risk factor for apnea. The control group showed almost no improvement. NYT

Interesting, huh?  Throat exercises... Makes you wonder.  Perhaps this is why girls like Linda Lovelace never snore.

And 39%?  Come one.  I am a bit of a statistical sceptic, I tend to take fancy numbers like 39% back into something close to an understandable level.  Plus, given the error factor (and I've seen how some medical research is done) and the statistical variation, I don't really trust such feigned accuracy. Anything between around about 30% and 40% I call "about 1/3". Any quoted percentage over 40% and less than 60% is of therefore "about 1/2". As we go either side, we get about 1/4, or 3/4, and things at 3% or 97% (about 2 standard deviations - presuming the data is a normal bell curve) are effectively "none" or "all". Even though I am a believer in the scientific method and reasoned thought, I don't trust people to act in a disinterested manner and not succumb to their preconceived paradigms or expected results and to be faithful to their raw data and ... oops I'm diverting.

What was that about hats again?

At the bottom of the NYT article there was a brief comment about playing musical instruments and a link to an article about digeridoo playing and a reduction in sleep apnoea!

The combined analysis of sleep related outcomes showed a moderate to large effect of didgeridoo playing (difference between summary z scores -0.78 SD units, -1.27 to -0.28, P < 0.01). Changes in health related quality of life did not differ between groups. CONCLUSION: Regular didgeridoo playing is an effective treatment alternative well accepted by patients with moderate obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome.

Fancy dress is optional for playing the digeridoo.
And honey, that's BLOW not SUCK.

OK I'm not statistician enough to explain Z-scores, but 25 minutes of digeridoo playing should give the neighbours upstairs something to think about around about 10am every Sunday when they start pushing the furniture during their weekly shag.

Digeridoo playing never made it to the White Album.

Sleep well, y'all...


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