Wearing compression stockings might help people suffering from a common sleep disorder, claim researchers.
They found sufferers who wore thigh-high stockings for a week cut their sleep problems by a third.
People with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) frequently wake in the night, which in turn leads to problems during the day, such as excess sleepiness.
It affects at least half a million Britons – often middle-aged, overweight men – causing snoring and frequent interruptions to breathing during sleep.
In OSA, the muscles in the airway collapse during sleep, which cuts off breathing for at least ten seconds before brain signals cause a contraction of the muscles which reopens the airway.
Not only does it disrupt sleep – for sufferers and those within earshot – and cause exhaustion, the condition appears to increase blood pressure and associated heart problems.
It can be treated using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, but this means wearing a mask all night, which many people find uncomfortable.
In the latest study, researchers from the University of Brescia, Italy, used full-length compression stockings – the kind used to prevent deep-vein thrombosis in air passengers – to regulate bloodflow through the legs.
They recruited 12 patients with vein problems that led to blood pooling in the lower legs during daytime which caused sleeping problems triggered by the excess fluid moving to the neck during the night.
Dr Stefania Redolfi, who led the research, said: u2018We found that in patients with chronic venous insufficiency, compression stockings reduced daytime fluid accumulation in the legs, which in turn reduced the amount of fluid flowing into the neck at night, thereby reducing the number of apnoeas by more than a third.'