A plaster-sized gadget worn on the forehead that vibrates when the wearer rolls onto their back is the latest bid to tackle snoring.
The battery-powered device is designed to help people with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), where the soft tissue in the throat relaxes and collapses repeatedly during sleep, partially blocking the airway and causing loud snoring and pauses in breathing, known as apnoeas.
These can block airflow for ten seconds or more, disturbing sleep and leading to daytime tiredness. Untreated, OSA is linked to a higher risk of conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
It’s estimated that in 60 per cent of cases, the symptoms are increased by sufferers sleeping on their backs — the new device only stops sending out vibrations when the wearer, alerted by the effect, shifts from their back to their side.
Research found that the forehead gadget reduced snoring symptoms by a third within days of using it.
A battery-operated plaster-sized gadget worn on the forehead that vibrates when the wearer rolls onto their back is the latest bid to tackle snoring
OSA affects up to two million people in the UK, and the main cause is obesity as excess fat around the neck can add to the pressure on the soft tissues in the neck, mouth and throat.
Taking medicines with a sedative effect — such as sleeping tablets or tranquillisers — can also increase the risk.
Treatment includes continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which involves wearing a face mask at night that delivers a continuous flow of low pressure air to help keep airways open. However, some people give up on this device as they find it difficult to sleep.
Another measure aimed at discouraging sleeping on the back is to sew an item such as a tennis ball into the back of nightwear, but this can also interfere with sleep.
The new device measures around four square centimetres (about the size of a large plaster) and weighs around 14 grams (the weight of a small battery). It incorporates an accelerometer — the same kind of technology used in cars to detect crashes and release airbags, and in mobile phones to detect movement changes and distinguish up from down.
The accelerometer in the patch works the same way, detecting if someone is on their side or back.
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The device also contains a pad which starts vibrating with four increasing levels of intensity when the wearer rolls on their back for more than 30 seconds.
The idea is that the vibrations briefly wake the wearer, who then moves back onto their side. The results of a trial run by scientists at Araba University Hospital in Spain, involving 12 patients, found using the device led to a 31 per cent