Driver Fatigue: A Deadly Consequence of Sleep Apnea

Do you remember the two recent deadly train wrecks attributed to engineers suffering from sleep apnea?  The first was in NYC on Metro North RR and the other on NJ Transit commuting from NYC.
     It’s known that 1 out of 3 people suffer from a sleep disorder.  Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can effect anyone in public transportation and in private driving.
     The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that “100,000 vehicle accidents, 1500 deaths and 71,000 injuries result from drowsy driving annually.”
Most sleep deprivation results from:
  •   Sleep apnea
  •   Shift work
  •   Certain medications
  •   Long-haul driving
  •   Inadequate time for sleep
  •   Insomnia
  •   Release from a stay in hospital
     The state of New Jersey passed a law in 2003 that criminalizes drowsy driving due to its similarity to alcohol or drug impaired driving.
     Consuming caffeine is only a short term fix for drowsiness.  After 3 nights of deprived sleep, caffeine was shown to be non-effective in combating sleepiness.
     Adults need 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night to maintain adequate alertness. With OSA, a person can wake 6-30 plus times per hour to gasp for breath.  The brain and other organs are oxygen deprived these many times.
     Another consequence of inadequate sleep is that a person, while driving can suffer from “microsleeps”  lasting less than a second.  In this state, the brain switches from Wake to Sleep mode,
enough time to cause a crash.
   Hygienists, as health care providers, are in the perfect position to screen for drowsiness and sleep apnea.  We can and will save lives both on the road and in someone’s personal life.
Hygienists Preserving Good Health
More and more dental practices are getting on board for the OSA fight.  Shouldn’t your office be one of them?   We can help you join the battle and stand out as a life saver.