Drowsy Driving as a Silent Killer
When it comes to driving, daytime sleepiness pose same risk as drunk driving. And according to a study that was published in Journal Sleep, this more than doubles the possibility of car accidents. However, excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is preventable. And this is by addressing the root of the problem which is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). If not intervened, EDS can reduce the person’s productivity as well as multiplies injury rate significantly. But according to Journal Sleep, no study was conducted as yet whether obstructive sleep apnea and work accidents are interrelated.
“A common symptom of obstructive apnea is excessive daytime sleepiness. This wakes you in the morning and makes you feel unrefreshed and feel tired, even if you had a full sleep at night”, stated Dr. Timothy Morgenthale; American Academy of Sleep Medicine president.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it has been officially classified that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. This is because 40% of the population expressed the problem of unintentionally falling asleep and this happens at least once in a month. This is a major concern since sleep deprivation can result to moderate cognitive impairment and suppressed immune system. And the risk can even be worse when the person performs a complex activity like driving. According to a study conducted, sleep loss of 20-25 hours depletes brainpower in similar manner as a person with .10 alcohol concentrations.
In obstructive sleep apnea, the airway is blocked, causing difficulty in breathing. A study conducted by Swedish researchers showed that drivers in accidents are mostly those who are suffering from sleep apnea. And that those who only had 5 hours of sleep at night end up with excessive daytime sleepiness. Those who are regularly taking sleeping pills even have greater risk.
The Journal Sleep also published a study conducted on Obstructive Sleep Apnea as an occupational accident risk. The study showed that OSA is a nonoccupational undiagnosed disease which has great adverse effect on work accidents. Subjects suffering from OSA had doubled their odds of occupational accidents. Hence, the study calls for screening in work areas, specifically on safety sensitive works where driving is one of them.
Unfortunately, drowsy driving is not given as much attention as to drunken driving. Hence, drivers are given the responsibility to identify their sleeping problem and address this accordingly. After all, obstructive sleep apnea can be prevented. And knowing if you are suffering from this disorder can be a good start.