A pillow designed to provide relief for snorers — and those around them — has been proven effective by a short-term study conducted by Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, a hospital official said.
The “creative pillow” was the result of a project financed by the Ministry of Education and led by Chang Gung University of Science and Technology’s Healthcare Institute and the hospital.
The pillow is designed to make snorers sleep on their side, while reducing snoring.
According to a survey on snoring the hospital conducted in 2006, 51.9 percent of the 4,011 people polled said they snored and 2.6 percent of respondents had sleep apnea.
Snoring is caused by obstructed nasal airways and is a warning sign of sleep apnea, the hospital said.
“Snoring not only impairs the snorer’s own sleep quality, but that of their family; chronic snoring also contributes to emotional problems such as aggression, depression, attention deficit syndrome or those that lead to domestic violence and family discord,” it said.
Many chronic snorers seek help from sleep specialists, who often suggest lifestyle changes such as weight loss, sleeping on their sides or even surgery, the hospital said.
“However, not every snorer can be effectively treated by surgery. The narrowing of the airways caused by morbid obesity or problems with facial structure, for example, are inoperable, and surgery is also not an option for those with neuromuscular disorders or severe internal diseases,” the hospital said. “So an alternative for these people is an imperative.”
Kenny Wen-Chyuan Chen (陳文詮), an assistant professor at the Healthcare Institute and co-creator of the pillow, said it was designed so that the middle of the front of the pillow is “taller,” forcing the sleeper’s head to tilt back, while the sides are lower to make it easier for the user to sleep on their side.
Sleeping on your back is more likely to obstruct your airway and cause snoring, Chen said.
To test the pillow’s effectiveness the hospital conducted a trial using people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
The test subjects believed that the noise from their snoring was alleviated, while monitoring showed “a reduction of snoring frequency from 215 times to 156 times per night, which is a decrease of 27 percent,” Chen said.
The trial also found that the participants’ blood oxygen saturation during sleep increased from 85 percent to 88 percent, the hospital said.
“The results together indicate that the ‘creative pillow’ can make patients breathe more easily and thereby improve their and their spouses’ sleep quality,” the hospital said.