Compression stockings, which are generally known to treat patients suffering from varicose veins and prevent blood clots in legs after surgery, are now being consider an option as a remedy to sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea, which is a sleep disorder due to abnormal pauses in breathing or shallow breathing while one sleeps. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes and occurs when the soft tissue in the throat collapses frequently throughout the night, blocking air flow to the lungs. This process is also accompanied by loud snore and gasping sounds. Sleep apnea affects about 1 in 25 adults.

It is believed that wearing compression stockings during the day will prevent tissue fluid build-up in the body, which will in turn allow the fluid to flow toward one's head while he or she lies down at nights. Researchers propose the stockings will compress the veins and assist the muscles to drive fluid back to the rest of the body.

Currently, the available 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 from closing, but for many the device is uncomfortable and they discontinue its use.

A small study recorded that stockings reduced the symptoms by a third.

A new trial, which is set to be conducted at Toronto University in Canada will include 50 participants, who will wear the compression stocking during the day for two weeks, while the other half will not. Doctors will monitor the difference in leg and neck fluid volumes overnight, whether or not patients are lethargic or attentive and the overall quality of life.

Along with the disturbance in sleep, a U.S. study revealed 55 patients who suffered from sleep apnea, also had increase cravings for carbohydrates, such as biscuits and bread. Of patients, half of them also were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The results, presented at a recent conference hosted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, propose the correlation.

Though researchers are uncertain whether sleep apnea sparks these cravings, a concept is that waking up frequently, which is an evident trait of this sleep related disorder, can disrupt hormone levels that control hunger, leaving the body craving pasta, sweets and bread.