Are your road warriors really getting enough sleep? A recent study from Spain, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reports that drivers who suffer from sleep apnea interrupted breathing during sleep are six times more likely to be involved in traffic accidents than those who do not have the disorder.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, falling asleep at the wheel causes at least 100,000 crashes every year in the United States. Forty percent of U.S. adults report that chronic daytime sleepiness interferes with their work.
The Spanish study, conducted at General Yague Hospital in Burgos, compared drivers who had received emergency treatment following automobile accidents against a control group who had never had a car accident. Among those who had sleep apnea, consumption of alcohol amplified the risk of a car accident. Smoking also has been linked to apnetic episodes.
The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that 12 million Americans suffer from this treatable disorder, and another 10 million are undiagnosed. Sleep apnea can lead to memory loss, high blood pressure, depression, heart attacks and strokes. It can be fatal.
For more information, call the American Sleep Apnea Association at (202)293-3650.