Detecting Sleep Problems and the Benefits of Fibre

John Schieszer

New treatments for diagnosing and treating sleep apnea may soon make it much easier to combat this problem.

Scientists have now come up with a disposable diagnostic patch that effectively detects obstructive sleep apnea across all severity levels.

The device is called SomnaPatch and it weighs less than one ounce (28 grams) and records nasal pressure, blood oxygen saturation, pulse rate, respiratory effort, sleep time and body position. The team developing this product reports that the patch is highly accurate and could help those individuals who are unwilling or unable to go to a sleep lab to get diagnosed.

“Our study provided clinical validation of a new wearable device for diagnosing sleep apnea,” said principal investigator Maria Merchant, PhD, CEO of Somnarus Incorporated in the United States. “It was most surprising to us how well this inexpensive miniature device performed in comparison with in-lab sleep studies.” Simultaneous polysomnography and patch recordings from 174 subjects were included in their analysis.

An additional home usability study found that 38 out of 39 users were successful in activating the diagnostic patch and collecting at least four hours of sleep data while relying only on the instructions included with the device. “Most home sleep diagnostic devices are difficult for patients to use and are disruptive to patient’s sleep,” said Merchant. “Our study showed that this wearable home sleep monitor is very comfortable, easy to use and does not negatively affect sleep.”

Consumption of dietary fibre from breads/cereals and fruits may independently influence the likelihood of ageing successfully over 10 years, according to researchers in Australia. It has been known for decades that a high-fibre diet provides important gastrointestinal benefits. Now, it appears it does much more than that. Scientists at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research explored the relationship between carbohydrate intake and healthy ageing in more than 1,600 adults aged 50 years and older.

They found that out of all the factors they examined, which included a person’s total carbohydrate intake, total fibre intake, glycemic index, glycemic load and sugar intake, it was the fibre that made the biggest difference to what the researchers termed “successful ageing”.

Successful ageing was defined as including an absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms and chronic diseases including cancer, coronary artery disease and stroke. Study investigator Bamini Gopinath, PhD, who is with The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, said these findings were very important and pointed to a simple way to improve quality of life in older adults.

“Out of all the variables that we looked at, fibre intake, which is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest, had the strongest influence,” said Gopinath. “We found that those who had the highest intake of fibre or total fibre actually had an almost 80 per cent greater likelihood of living a long and healthy life over a 10- year follow-up. That is, they were less likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, dementia, depression and functional disability.”

This study backs up similar recent findings by the researchers that highlighted the importance of a healthful diet and healthy ageing. In a previously published study, Westmead Institute researchers found that adults who closely adhered to recommended national dietary guidelines reached old age with an absence of chronic diseases and disability, and had good functional and mental health status.

John Schieszer is an award-winning national journalist and radio and podcast broadcaster of The Medical Minute.
He can be reached at

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