Scientists at the Mayo Clinic in the US may have come up with a cure for snoring. The device, which resembles a sticking plaster, is fixed to the upper lip before the patient goes to sleep and works by sending a short burst of sound to their ear. Without waking them it is just enough to stop the patient snoring. Snoring occurs when the excess tissue in the upper passage of the nostrils vibrate. A lack of resulting air then leads to the brain wanting more oxygen and it wakes its sleeper to open the wipe pipe who then snorts, producing a louder snore before falling back to sleep.
The device is a sensor which fits onto the sleepers top lip and is secured into place with a piece of elastic that loops round the back of the neck. It is attached to a small control box which constantly monitors information received. The sensor is able to measure air pressure as the patient exhales. A drop in pressure means the sleeper is about to snore and this triggers the device to send a short burst of sound to the ear piece. The device can emit many different sounds and will go through them until it has the desired effect – a rise in air pressure. This means the snoring will have stopped. As the sound wave is so subtle the aim is not to wake the sleeper but merely to control the brain into tightening the muscles around the wind pipe and allowing them to open without waking the sleeper.
The device has been developed for sufferers of sleep apnoea as when the airways become restricted, oxygen can be cut for up to ten seconds a time. A patient can suffer hundreds of these episodes a night and there are thought to be an estimated three million sufferers in the UK alone. Jim Moore from company Dymedix who manufacture the device says “Our research shows that the patients are not woken and they have no memory of hearing the sounds the following morning. They awake completely refreshed.” They are hoping to launch the device in the UK in around 18 months. Good news for snorers and their partners!