Silent Night, Holy Night
Men do it, women, too. And, if they have been drinking, a few acres of forest are likely to have been sawn down – by their snoring. An inventor on the edge of the Swabian Alb region of southern Germany aims to put a stop to the nightly deforestation with a mixture of cold foam and fibres.
“One of the main reasons for snoring is laying on your back when you sleep”, says Marcus Ruoff, CEO of Nachtwaechter Schlafprodukte GmbH & Co. KG, a company based in the Swabian town of Riedlingen. Then, the jaw, tongue and soft palate can slip into a typical snoring position and block the airways. To stop this, Ruoff worked for over three years on a special night vest, which the snorer puts on to train sleeping on the side. Like a beetle on its back, which can only get back on its feet with difficulty, the idea is to prevent sleeping on the back – and thus prevent snoring.
“Sounds simple but the way to the final product was anything but easy”, says Ruoff, who spent a long time looking for a suitable partner to implement the textile and fibre aspects of his idea: one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of sports garments for triathletes, biathletes, cyclists and mountain climbers. Although the company had access to the best fibres and fabrics on the market, they then had to find the best fibre mix. And that was almost as difficult as the battle against snoring itself. The textile blend not only had to adapt easily to all different body shapes and sizes, be climate neutral, sweat absorbent, washable, soft and cuddly but also be robust and stable. After around two years, Ruoff and his team finally discovered the perfect blend of polyethylene, polyamide and elastane fibres to cover and hold the anti-turning cold-foam cores inside the vest.
The finished textile product even made it onto an award-winning German television programme about start-ups, in which imaginative founders court the favour of investors, one of whom was prepared to put € 200,000 into the anti-snoring vest. And this investment has clearly paid off: the vest, which is made in accordance with the Oeko-Tex® Standard, is now sold in six countries. “Apropos female snoring: this is generally a taboo subject because people find it embarrassing. However, it occurs almost as much as male snoring”, says Ruoff, who recommends that buyers plan to wear his vest for around three to six months until silent nights become the rule. The only problem during this time is that spooning becomes a rather one-sided occasion for the person wearing the vest.