Philip Terrill, a PhD student has created a formula that measures varying breathing patterns of infants, which indicate different sleep states such as active or quiet sleep. He hopes that the same would successfully work for adults.
For the study, Terrill had placed a band around the child's chest that recorded breathing rates. He then analysed using the new formula based on the maths of chaos theory and has been successfully tested on 30 children so far.
The present sleep monitoring method involves an overnight stay in a hospital sleep lab with specialised equipment needing regular attention of a nurse, doctor or sleep technician.
Terrill said that his formula would form the basis of an automated sleep monitoring system that was cheaper and easier to use than current methods.
"In the future, diagnosing a sleep problem may be as simple as putting on a breathing monitor during a night's sleep at home, in your own bed," he said.
"This would mean that those children with sleep problems could be quickly diagnosed and treated appropriately," he added.
Minor infant sleeping problems can result in daytime sleepiness and inattention with prolonged problems causing behavioural and learning difficulties.