Overnight polysomnography and the recording of sleep and sleep-related respiration in orchestra musicians – possible protective effects of wind instruments on respiration
Public Library of Science (PLoS) -- PLoS One
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0231549

Our study is the first to objectively assess sleep and sleep-related respiration in orchestra musicians. We hypothesized low sleep quality due to high work demands and irregular work-sleep schedules, and a better respiration for wind instrument (WI) players than string instrument (SI) players due to habitual upper airway muscles training. We recorded overnight polysomnography with 29 professional orchestra musicians (21 men, 14 WI/ 15 SI). The musicians presented a sleep efficiency of 88% (IQR 82–92%) with WI having a significant higher sleep efficiency than SI (89%, 85–93% vs. 85%, 74–89%; p = 0.029). The group had a total sleep time around 6 hours (377min, 340-421min) with signs of increased NREM 1 (light sleep) and decreased REM (dream sleep). The musicians displayed an apnea-hypopnea-index of 2.1events/hour (0.7–5.5) and an oxygen saturation of 98% (97–100%). While SI player exhibited declining sleep-related respiration with age (breathing events: r = 0.774, p = 0.001, oxygen: r = -0.647, p = 0.009), WI player showed improved respiration with age (breathing events: r = -0.548, p = 0.043; oxygen: r = 0.610, p = 0.020). Our study is the first objective investigation of sleep pattern and respiration during sleep with overnight polysomnography in professional orchestra musicians. While sleep and respiration were unexpectedly good, our results revealed possible signs of sleep deprivation and an interesting age-related pattern on respiration depending on instrument. While sample size was small and results modest, these findings present first objective evidence towards the assumption that habitual playing of a WI–and training of the upper airway muscles–may have a protective effect on respiration.