It’s noisy, unhealthy and, according to World Association of Sleep Medicine, it affects up to 24 percent of men 9 percent of women in the US. Sleep apnea is a disorder caused by pauses in breathing that can last several seconds and produces a loud snort or choking sound when breathing resumes. It is treatable, most commonly with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAC), which involves pressurized air being blown through the nose during the night through a facial mask. However, this is obviously uncomfortable and doesn't work for everyone.

Now, researchers at California-based Advanced Brain Monitoring, Inc., are claiming to have developed a more comfortable solution called Night Shift, which joins the ranks of other novel treatments such as electric stimulation. The company says that sleeping on the back makes sleep apnea worse for 70 percent of people who suffer from the condition, while 65 percent of non-apneic snorers also belt out louder snores while sleeping in that position.

To keep sleepers in the best position, the Night Shift device prompts the wearer to move positions by gentling vibrating when they start to sleep on their back. It is designed to be worn on the back of the neck with a silicone strap and magnetic clasp holding it in place – which should be a lot less obstructive than a facial mask. As well as preventing sleepers from rolling onto their backs, the device can also be used to monitor sleep quality, positioning and how often loud snoring is taking place. This is done by connecting Night Shift to a computer with a USB cable, registering the device and setting parameters to user requirements. The data is managed through the Night Shift web portal, which allows users to generate reports and follow therapy progress.

Monitoring is useful because users can get a better picture of the problem, such as a possible connection with alcohol intake, and determine whether the position during sleep is actually causing the problem. They can also experiment with other methods and compare the results.

The device has been tested in a two-part clinical study and the results have been presented in the Journal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing. Night Shift says 90 percent of participants responded well, with a 79 percent reduction rate on the apnea-hypopnea index, which measures the severity of the problem. Participants could sleep more deeply and continuously, while hypoxemia (low level of oxygen in the blood) also improved. They also noticed a reduction in the percentage of time when snoring went above 50 dB.

The consequences of sleep apnea go beyond daytime fatigue and lack of concentration for disrupted sleep – it can cause muscle pain and increase risk of a heart attack and stroke, among other issues.

To bring the product to market, Night Shift is currently fundraising on Indiegogo and supporters will be contributing to a larger, six-month study. Funding options start at US$269, with a $539 Dual Health Tracker option for couples who share the problem. Delivery is estimated for August 2014.

The creators make their pitch in the video below.

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