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Computer program that listens for sleep disorders
  [vote for,

Sleep apnea is a serious problem, and people who have it can't tell that they have it. If they sleep alone, or their sleeping partner(s) are unaware of the symptoms, it can continue for years, causing lost brain cells and a host of other problems.

It is easy for a human to spot sleep apnea: the sufferer stops breathing for up to half a minute, then restarts with a loud snort. This should be easy to detect using a standard computer with a microphone.

This fairly simple program could also produce a log of bouts of snoring, and even record sleep talking, which can be quite interesting.

This one should be easy folks. Anyone up for writing it?

ches, Jul 15 2002

Michael I. Savic, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute http://www.rpi.edu/...0/mar_20/apnea.html
Is reported to be working on pretty much this. [jutta, Jul 16 2002]


       At the moment, OSA is normally disgnosed using a logging Oximiter, which records pulse rate and blood O2 saturation via a finger clip.   

       The advantage of this idea is that it's just software, dropped onto a cheap and widely avaliable hardware platform. It could be used quickly and easily by those who suspect they may have a problem in a sort of self-help exercise.   

       I haven't the time to write it myself, but I know a man who might be interested in having a go.
8th of 7, Jul 15 2002

       About 5 years ago, I visited a research lab where a woman was working on a detector based on an optic fibre system, you had an elastic bandage with the fibre in it around your chest & the regular breathing movements were computer analysed & an alarm was raised when the pattern stopped. With the rise of 'intelligent' clothing (woven in sensors etc) and the cheapening/shrinking of digital signal processing, this will happen soon. And you could wire in other alarms, like immobility, sudden blows like from a fall etc.
pfperry, Jul 17 2002

       As apnea is almost always associated with sleeping on one's back, one solution is to sew a tennis ball to the back of a t-shirt. The afflicted wears the shirt to bed, is uncomfortable when lying on back, and so sleeps on one side. No apnea.   

       UB, although excessive weight is often a factor with apnea, it is not always.
waugsqueke, Jul 17 2002

       pfperry: Yes, I've seen that technology too. It can be used for detecting damage to carbon fibre structures in aircraft (embedding the fibre in the matrix). I'm sure that 'intellgent' clothing, incorporating sensors like this, is indeed on the way.   

       As for the alarms for immobility, or sudden blows, I presume that's for the elderly, or unwell, who might have a fall ? I have a pretty good internal system for alerting me to sudden blows, called "pain"......
8th of 7, Jul 17 2002

       I wouldn't recommend it long term, but Diamox the prophylactic used by people climbing in very high altitudes relieves obstructive sleep apnea (it is one of the symptoms of acute mountain sickness and not just limited to fat people). If you don't mind the other side effects (tingling fingers, possible mild nausea, and it greatly increases the frequency you piss) it is good if you suffer from severe OSA and just need a proper night's rest without breathing apparatus.

Interestingly enough, doctors don't seem to know why it helps, there doesn't seem to be any real scientific reason why it should.
namaste, Jul 17 2002

       Sleep apnea is a discomforting or incapacitating syndrome to those in otherwise fair health, and to those in more frail condition or those with a contributing physical state, such as pickwickian syndrome, sleep apnea can be disabling or even deadly. Most diagnosed s.a. sufferers of which I am aware use custom fitted C-PAP (forget what this means--something about positive air pressure) machines while they sleep that force air into their upper respiratory tracts and thereby blow open a contricted nasopharynx.   

       I don't know that a pulse oximeter would be that effective -- the alarms on ones I've used can wake the dead if the wearer rolls to one side.
reensure, Jul 17 2002

       CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) as I've seen it used is so hideously inconvenient and uncomfortable that I've always avoided complaining to any doctors about my sleep not being restful enough, for fear that they'll diagnose me with sleep apnea and tell me to use the device.   

       Also, to get a pulse oximeter to stay in place on any of my fingers, toes, or ears, you would need to keep me in four- point restraints-- I don't stay still. The 3-lead cardiogram used in ICUs gives a fairly good indication of breathing rate (yes I know it's a heart monitor, but it also picks up chest movement through some electronic trick) but is also no good with thrashy sleepers.
hob, Jul 17 2002

       Love the idea. Or you could just buy a tape recorder and listen to yourself- much cheaper.   

       Maybe make a sound trigger device that can match up the sonic patterns of snoring with recorded noise and then automatically turn on the tape recorder when necessary, while at the same taking statistics about the sounds that occur based on pre-determined norms...
polartomato, Jul 18 2002

       reensure: As far as my knowledge goes, pulse oximitesr are only used to diagnose the condition. Using an alarm to wake the sufferer isn't a treatment, it's just adding to the problem.   

       polartomato: Standard voice-activated recorders will work OK for recording snoring.   

       A better method is as follows; get a small CCTV camera, the sort sold for husehold security, which has built in LED infrared illuminators and a microphone. They retail for about GBP £50 - £70 in the UK and ofthen the cable is conveniently terminated in a SCART plug which goes straight into a VCR. Set up the camera on top of a wardrobe, pointing at the bed. Set up a VCR with a long play facility and stick a 240-minute tape in it; that gives you six or seven hours of recording - far longer than an audio cassette. Set the VCR timer to start recordign about half an hour after your normal sleep time. You will be able to record both your nocturnal sounds and bed positions - it can be instructive. I rigged this up for a female friend of mine who suffers from sleepwalking. She said the results were "quite amazing", but declined to allow me to view the recording, which I thought was a bit mean.   

       hob: I notice you've neatly dodged answering my query about your species ...
8th of 7, Jul 18 2002

       The oxygen discussion is still very interesting. Since gut movement and regular breathing are quite intertwined, prove a sleep apnea exists by having a test subject swallow timed release pill that absorbs at a predictable rate over the course of a night's transitional peristalsis of the small intestine. At the time said pill enters the large intestine it ceases to be absorbable and blood levels of the active ingredient begin to fall.   

       The active ingredient is one that can be measured in ambient room air that is exchanged a constant rate. Plot the increase, the stable phase, and the decrease of the active ingredient by MSP or other sensitive analysis. Periods of sympathetic stimulation or parasympathetic interruption would indicate disruption of breathing concomitant to loss of bowel tone -- read as peaks and troughs in respiratory exchange passing the active ingredient to exhaled air. Interpret the results as morpheus interruptus, and prescribe a stimulant to lighten sleep and make it easier to wake up for a patient in breathing difficulty.
reensure, Jul 18 2002


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