By Rivka Borochov
Snoring can rattle the house and wake up your spouse. When it’s really bad, it can even break up marriages. Now it’s possible to download an app from Israel for your iPhone or Android to help you solve your marital woes.
At $5, Snoring U is a little sleep lab rolled up inside your iPhone, tablet or Android device. It was built by three Israeli entrepreneurs who believe that knowing you have a snoring problem is the first step to getting it treated.
Snoring U is a simple download seeking to change your nighttime habits for the better.
Sleeping U gets turned on at your bedside before you go to sleep and it will record and monitor all the noises made during a regular night’s sleep. It can identify snoring, wheezing and coughing, and actually record the sounds of snoring patterns as they progress through the night. You can program the application to send you a “nudge” by way of a battery vibration or sound alarm chosen by you.
According to Avshalom Ben-Zoor, CEO of Personal Technologies-Health Monitoring, the developers of Snoring U, about 80 percent of all people who snore are completely in denial.
“Snorers don’t hear themselves. And yes, I am a snorer and denied it as well –– until I heard myself,” admits Ben-Zoor.
This straightforward tool in effect functions like a small, but powerful sleep lab, which can provide data readouts for sleep diagnosticians, he says.
A Snoring U analysis
“I believe all sleep disorders are treatable,” says Ben-Zoor. “We are that first step.”
Sometimes snoring may be cured by changing sleep positions, buying a new pillow or, in some cases, surgery.
Although Snoring U is not a medical device, it was built in consultation with a leading Israel sleep and internal pulmonary medicine specialist, Dr. Naveh Tov. The others on the creative team were Ben-Zoor and Ilan Aisic. At least two of them are admitted snorers and together they aim to help people worldwide sleep better.
Snoring in Chinese or Japanese?
In fact, the initial idea came to Aisic one night, when -- like many nights before -- his wife woke up several times asking him to shift positions to stop his snoring. The computer engineer took his idea to his partners and the company was founded by the beginning of 2012.
The company counts 100,000 downloads to date, and some users have reported getting better sleep because of the app, says Ben-Zoor. All these downloads have come without any dedicated money in advertising, but the founders are hoping for a $2 million investment to help market their solution.
The program is available with support in multiple languages in addition to English, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, Russian and French.
Sleeping U is a second application that is available for download for free. It has the same basic functions as Snoring U, including the ability to record and play back your snores, but the Sleeping U version won’t “nudge” you awake at night when your snoring gets out of control.
Health benefits accompany early treatment
Besides the irritation factor, snoring can be a symptom of more serious medical problems, such as sleep apnea, which can have severe health consequences including a higher risk for heart disease and accidents.
Physician colleagues of Dr. Tov who have seen the app are therefore excited about it. “The feedback has been great,” Ben-Zoor says. “The response has been extremely positive.”
Going the extra mile and getting US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval is a milestone the company would like to achieve if they had the right investment, but meanwhile it’s not the highest priority.
“We want to bring it through the FDA but this requires dramatic investment and expenses and it will make our product more expensive. Now it is very cheap and affordable while at the same time is simple and accurate,” says Ben-Zoor.
The readouts that can be given to doctors and sleep labs have some powerful predictive possibilities, and what’s even better is that Snoring U can non-invasively monitor you from your own home over a week, month or even a year.
It’s still debatable how effective diagnoses are in sleep labs since many problematic sleepers don’t sleep well in settings that aren’t home. Snoring U may very well help you roll over to sleep better, and forego that visit to the sleep lab.