Searching for sweet dreams

If life was accurately represented by soap operas, then the typical family would be torn apart on a regular basis by financial impropriety, infidelity, drunkenness and cruelty. And that’s before the long lost children from a past life turn up. Fortunately, the majority of us lead less turbulent lives but even then very few live lives of constant and complete contentment.

If they do, they do not have a partner who snores. Snoring is the perennial bugbear. The destroyer of domestic bliss.

This simple physical bodily function should not be beyond the gift of man to resolve, but yet it remains an obstacle to marital relations. Part of the problems is deciding who needs to take the remedial action. Is it the ‘snoree’ – the one on the receiving end, the victim, who must adopt headphone or spare bedroom type actions? Or is the snorer, the guilty party, whose responsibility it should be for cutting out noise at source? Sufferers of severe snoring, a condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, typical have poor sleep, fatigue during the day and can have increased risk of cardiovascular events. So this is not a victimless crime even if the snorer sleeps alone!

We are taking the latter approach for this month’s Coffee Time Challenge – the solution sits with the snorer. There are sprays, nose clips, variations on bed positions and pyjama design…but the problem persists. So the Challenge is to come up with something new. As ever we have a solution in mind. While it does require understanding of how human muscles work, we wouldn’t want that to restrain you if any more mechanical innovations to spring to mind.

We will publish our solution in January. If you do have any ideas feel free to leave them as a comment below.

If you came up with a solution to last month’s challenge, to design an all-conquering entrant for Robot Wars, then we hope you build your robot and successfully compete in the future.

Our solution comes from engineering company Morgan Innovation and Technology, in conjunction with King’s Partners London. The device they are working on stimulates muscles in the throat to reduce vibration, a common cause of snoring, and helps moderate collapses of the upper airway in sleep apnoea. Treatment is carried out by application of mild electrical stimulation at specific frequencies via pads placed around the jawline. The stimulation does not wake the user. The device will be small, unobtrusive, multiuse and attaches underneath the chin with disposable adhesive stimulation pads.