Wearing tight stockings during the day may be a new way to tackle snoring at night.
Compression stockings are widely used to treat varicose veins and prevent blood clots in the legs after surgery and during long-haul flights.
They are now being given to people with sleep apnoea, a major cause of snoring.
This occurs when the soft tissue in the throat collapses repeatedly at night, blocking air flow into the lungs.
It’s thought the knee-length stockings will help reduce this tissue collapse by tackling fluid build-up in the body – a small study of 12 patients has shown the stockings reduce symptoms by a third.
Sleep apnoea affects an estimated one in 25 adults.
It triggers a pause in breathing for ten seconds or more before the brain prompts the muscles to reopen the airway.
This process is accompanied by a loud snore that is then followed by a gasping and spluttering sound.
The condition increases the risk of heart failure, stroke and diabetes.
Risk factors include being overweight, having a large neck, being menopausal (hormonal changes can lead to throat muscles relaxing) and taking medication such as sleeping pills.
The main treatment is a type of mask called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device that delivers a supply of compressed air during sleep to prevent the airway closing.
While these devices can be highly effective, many people find them uncomfortable to wear, and it is estimated around 46 per cent of people given them do not continue to use them.
The idea behind the stockings is that they prevent tissue fluid – a clear liquid that is a constitute of blood – pooling in the legs during the day.
Normally, the leg muscles help pump fluid back up to the body, but this flow is hampered in those with poor circulation or who are largely sedentary.
Experts believe an accumulation of this fluid can flow back towards the head when the patient lies down at night.