We all know the dangers of drinking and driving, but it can be just as dangerous to get behind the wheel of a vehicle when you haven’t gotten enough sleep.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths."
Furthermore, the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine reveals that drivers who experience excessive daytime sleepiness – a common symptom of sleep apnea – are 15 times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident.
People who have sleep apnea stop breathing multiple times during sleep, and this prevents them from getting the uninterrupted rest they need. Because of this, they can suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, which may impact their ability to function, impair their motor skills and even make them feel intoxicated.
To ensure that you’re driving safely, keep an eye out for the following signs that indicate drowsiness, and pull over to rest if you notice any of them:
- Difficulty focusing
- Drifting from your lane
- Frequent yawning or blinking
- Missing exits
- Trouble remembering the last few miles
As we've reported previously on this blog, 80% of Americans with sleep apnea are undiagnosed, meaning they’re missing out on effective methods of treatment that can lower the risk of excessive daytime sleepiness and other symptoms of this disorder.