A group of researchers at the University of Brescia in Italy has found that wearing compression socks during the day reduces the symptoms of sleep apnea at night. Their report was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder characterized by abnormal breathing during sleep. An apnea is a pause in breathing, and these can occur 5 to 30 times or more per hour. Most individuals are unaware it is happening, even upon waking. Symptoms are fatigue, impaired cognitive skills and reaction times, and behavioral changes. The same symptoms one experiences after a bad nights sleep.
Over 85% of sleep apnea is caused by a physical blockage of the air passages. In the Brescia study, lead by Dr. Stefania Redolfi, researchers measured the accumulation of interstitial fluid in the neck. Swollen tissue can press on the pharynx and interrupt breathing.
In one of the tests, a group of patients wore compression stockings during the day for one week, to see if this would have any affect on fluid accumulation in the neck at night. The test resulted in a 60% reduction in neck circumference increase, and a 36% reduction in the occurrences of apneas per hour of sleep. Dr. Redolfi speculated that wearing compression stockings over longer periods of time may show even better results.