Linked with a host of serious medical problems, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is well-known for putting people in harm’s way. Now, new research suggests that it can shorten lives in another way: by putting people at a higher risk for deadly automobile accidents.

Impaired Driving

Researchers at the University Hospital in Leeds, England, recently conducted a pair of studies that demonstrated just how deadly sleep deprivation can be when drivers are behind the wheel. In one study, they pitted 133 sleep apneics against 89 healthy sleepers in simulated driving tests meant to gauge driving ability. After navigating over 50 miles of faux streets and highways, drivers were scored based on completion time, swerving and crashes. Ultimately, twice as many sleep apneics failed the test, with an even higher number having difficulty following simple directions given out at the start of the test.

In a second study, the researchers surveyed 118 people who had untreated OSA and 69 people who did not. After reviewing their answers, the researchers noted that 35 percent of sleep apneics admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel, compared to only 11 percent from the healthy group.

A Big Issue

According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 20 percent of all auto accidents occur due to tiredness and fatigue. Many times these drivers are sleep apneics, who suffer from long-term sleep deprivation, thanks to breathing disruptions which keep them from sleeping through the night. Sadly, when they climb behind the wheel while impaired, sleep apneics put other drivers at risk, leaving themselves exposed to civil lawsuits and guilt associated with causing harm to others.

You Can’t Go Back

If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, you are at risk. A mountain of research has shown that this dangerous disorder leaves sufferers at a higher risk for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia and accidents. Once these things occur, no amount of wishing will make them go away. That said, you can prevent these potential tragedies by seeking help for your problem before it’s too late.

Please call (303) 691-0267 at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado, to learn about a simple treatment for obstructive sleep apnea which provides an unobstructed airway, so you can breathe clearly and sleep well every single night.