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Sound asleep

17th March 2006

17032006_man_sleeping.jpgThe Institute for Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC) has been developing a serious solution to what is a serious problem for some people - snoring.

Snoring is caused when the palate or uvula relaxes during sleep and vibrates. Although surgically remodelling the tissue can stop the noise, this may be too extreme a solution for many sufferers.

The idea developed at the Institute is to make the muscles near the tissue contract when snoring starts, which will tighten the tissue and stop the vibration. In order to acheive this, small coils of wire must be injected into the muscle and a separate coil placed under the pillow.

This pillow coil then wirelessly induces pulsed power a few times per second, and with a very low charge in the muscle coils which makes the tissue tighten. The system uses a microphone to listen for the snores to start before switching on.

It is trial error to find the strength and duration of the pulses needed to silence an individual’s snores without waking them up.

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