A Calgary sleep researcher has developed a wearable piece of technology that is the first step in addressing a sleep issue that robs a significant portion of the population of a full night’s rest.

People with sleep apnea, which affects as many as one in four Canadians according to the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, are startled awake numerous times throughout the night when they stop breathing. The sleep deprivation has been commonly linked to fatigue, headaches, depression and fibromyalgia.

Traditionally, sleep apnea is treated with either costly custom-fitted oral appliances that may not fit properly or a CPAP machine where the patient wears an intrusive face mask that supplies a stream of air but a Calgary team believes they have designed a better method.

Calgary-based Zephyr Sleep Technologies has developed the MATRx Plus. Patients with sleep apnea take home the testing device for several nights and it determines what they require and if a dental device would work for them.

“It means that, now, when you undertake treatment with oral appliance therapy, you know it’s going to work,” explained Dr. John Remmers, the sleep physician who invented the MATRx Plus. “There is no problem at all. It will be efficacious.”

The device monitors the sleeping patient’s breathing rates and blood oxygen levels while a mouthpiece with tiny motors affixed to it adjusts the position of the patient’s jaw. The information the device gathers is transmitted to the Zephyr Sleep Technologies’ lab and a custom-fitted mouthpiece is produced.

Bren Fulmek, a sleep apnea sufferer, says he’s experienced noticeable improvement in his sleep pattern following his time with the Matrix Plus.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Fulmek of the mouthpiece. “I go to sleep with it. I wake up with it. I feel refreshed when I wake up and I don’t feel tired through the day.”

“It’s like I’d forgotten what a good sleep felt like.”

Dr. Remmers says the MATRx Plus test costs roughly $300 and are available through select dental offices in the Calgary area. Currently, the custom mouthpieces created with the information from the Matrix Plus are priced at approximately $2,000.

With files from CTV’s Bill Macfarlane