Published On: Tue, Jan 10th, 2017

Breakthrough: Israeli Researchers Develop Smartphone System to Evaluate Sleep Disorders…While Awake

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Breakthrough Could Be More Convenient and Less Costly Way to Diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Other Sleep Disorders
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 Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a potentially serious sleep disorder. It causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep.
According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, it is estimated that 22 million Americans suffer from the malady, with 80 percent of moderate to severe OSA cases undiagnosed.
Now,  Israeli researchers have developed a new system to assess obstructive sleep apnea severity and sleep disorders while a patient is awake and analyze sleep-wake activity, using his or her smartphone.
“The audio-analysis application we’ve developed can record speech signals from awake subjects. Now, we will be able to get a fast, OSA severity estimation without an overnight sleep study, ” says Dr. Yaniv Zigel, of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev,  and Prof. Ariel Tarasiuk, Ph.D., head of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Unit at Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva.
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“We are excited about this non-contact sleep tracking system, which does not require patients to wear uncomfortable monitoring equipment on their body, ” says Prof. Tarasiuk. “This application can also be very useful for CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine users who want to check the effectiveness of their sleep apnea therapy.”

Currently, patients are diagnosed using polysomnography (PSG) to record brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate, breathing, and eye and leg movements overnight.

The new system, which does not require contact sensors, can be installed onto a smartphone or other device that utilizes ambient microphones. It both analyzes speech while the user is awake and records and evaluates overnight breathing sounds using new technology that is simpler to use and significantly less expensive than PSG.

 

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“All sleep studies conducted in laboratory or at-home settings currently require subjects to be connected to numerous electrodes and sensors, ” explains Eliran Dafna, a BGU Ph.D. student who developed the breathing-sound system in the BSP lab. “Processing the data on sleep-wake states and corresponding aspects of physiology is time-consuming, tedious and costly because of its complexity and the need for technical expertise. The market is begging for a better solution.”

Researchers have tested the new speech and breathing sound analysis systems on more than 350 subjects, along with PSG, in laboratory and at-home settings. They were able to reliably evaluate sleep quality parameters such as sleep-wake activity, snoring severity and OSA using this system.

Devices incorporating the speech-analysis system may be portable or stationary, and could be available also in public locations or clinics. The researchers are moving forward to commercialize the system.

 

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