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A light-based wearable to detect sleep apnea

Friday, 18 February 2022
Research collaboration leads to a new way for smartwatch-like wrist-worn devices to better assess sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea, the disorder where normal breathing is disturbed during sleep, can negatively affect someone’s mental and physical health. In an Eindhoven MedTech Innovation Center (e/MTIC) research collaboration involving TU/e and the Kempenhaeghe Epilepsy and Sleep Center, Gabriele Papini has developed a way to monitor sleep apnea using a compact wrist-worn device that is comfortable to wear and can be used for long-term home monitoring. Papini defends his PhD thesis on February 18th at the department of Electrical Engineering.

Leonardo da Vinci once said “A well-spent day brings happy sleep”, but the opposite is also true. Sleep is critical for physical and mental rest and recovery, but proper sleep can be disrupted by several disorders, with one of the most common being obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which affects a billion people worldwide.  

“Up to 80% of those with moderate or severe OSA might go undiagnosed, which can have a significant health impact,” says Gabriele Papini, PhD researcher in the Biomedical Diagnostics Lab at the department of Electrical Engineering.

OSA blocks the regular flow of air, which can disrupt sleep and deprives the body of an adequate supply of oxygen. “If left untreated, the effects of OSA include daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and cardiovascular issues,” notes Papini. “So, well-timed diagnosis is essential.”