Snoring and flute playing

Many of us experience snoring as we grow older and/or heavier. Snoring involves the jaw, tongue, and airway, and these are also involved in flute playing. Therefore, when we look into snoring control, we want to make sure it does not affect our playing.

Snoring should not be confused with sleep apnea, with which you actually stop breathing in your sleep. 75% of snorers do experience apnea, and if you do, you should seek medical advice.

When we sleep, our jaws and tongues relax and block our airways, which causes snoring, especially when we sleep on our backs. Sometimes the solution is simpleŚlose some weight, try a higher pillow, or sleep on your side. Just as in playing, proper posture when sleeping helps to keep our airway open. If these remedies do not work, though, there are a few simple appliances you should try.

First are the well-known Breathe Right strips. These help keep the nostrils open during the night and work well for some snorers without affecting flute playing.

The next category is tongue stabilizing devices. These sit on your lips and pull on your tongue by suction to  prevent it from falling back into your airway. My personal favorite is the Good Morning Snore Solution Its small tongue cup does not make my tongue tender like some can. The AVEO TSD was my first device, but its large tongue cup left my tongue tender and unable to play the flute for a few hours.

Finally, we have the Mandible Advancement Device. This device pulls your lower jaw forward into a slight under bite position, which in turn keeps your tongue from falling back. The ZQuiet is ready to use and comfortable. The hinged design allows talking and even taking a sip of water while wearing it. I find that my jaw relaxes to normal position within minutes of waking, and I am ready to play. I am not sure my dentist will approve of it, though, because I am biting on its plastic surface.

VitaSleep and SnoreRX are more advanced MADs that use a boil-and-bite technique to assure a better fit. Both are adjustable, but neither are hinged or allow talking or drinking.  Both are recommended by Many dentists today are prescribing and making more advanced MADs, but these can cost more than a student flute.

If your snoring is mild and you do not think you have apnea, I suggest you try one of these devices. You will awake more refreshed and ready to make music.

Steve Bottorff