Sleep Apnea Victims Should Avoid Driving After Poor Sleep or Consuming Alcohol

by Savitha C Muppala on  May 21, 2009 at 10:47 PM Research News
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 Sleep Apnea Victims Should Avoid Driving After Poor Sleep or Consuming Alcohol
Victims of obstructive sleep apnea are susceptible to the effects of sleep deprivation and alcohol. Andrew Vakulin, a Ph.D. candidate at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, and colleagues investigated the effects of sleep restriction and moderate alcohol exposure on patients with OSA with respect to their performance on a simulated driving task. Driver sleepiness is already known to contribute to about one in three car accidents, and OSA patients are known to be at greater risk. However, the extent to which OSA exacerbates the effects of normal sleepiness or alcohol consumption on driving ability was not previously known."We found that patients with OSA had a significantly poorer performance than their peers without OSA on the driving task after sleep restriction or alcohol exposure, even though the alcohol dose was clearly within the limits imposed by most state laws—about equal to having two drinks for a woman or three for a man over the course of an hour," said Mr. Vakulin.Patients with OSA were recruited following a standard diagnostic sleep study at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health prior to commencement of treatment. Healthy volunteers were randomly recruited from the community through newspaper advertisements and were matched by age and sex to the patient group. There were a total of 38 OSA patients and 20 healthy individuals tested. All subjects completed a 90-minute mid-afternoon simulated driving course after normal sleep (about eight hours), sleep restriction (about four hours) and consumption of alcohol (to blood alcohol levels of approximately 0.05g/dL). The road course simulated a country night-time drive on a predominantly straight dual-lane road with bends occurring at 10 minute intervals, each taking approximately 30 seconds to negotiate. There was no oncoming traffic or traffic lights. After sleep restriction, individuals with OSA performed significantly more poorly on steering than the 20 healthy individuals. Subjects with OSA were also more likely to crash than control subjects after undergoing both sleep restriction and alcohol exposure. "While this research could only ethically examine driving performance in a simulated setting, it raises some red flags that have strong real-world implications," said Mr. Vakulin. "In OSA patients, microsleeps [brief episodes of sleep] and prolonged eye closures (greater than two seconds) were significant predictors of having a crash incidents with adjusted odds ratios of 19.2 and 7.2, respectively."Clearly this data indicates that people with suspected or untreated sleep apnea should avoid driving if they have not had a full night's sleep, and should avoid driving after consuming even a small amount of alcohol," said Mr. Vakulin.

Source: Eurekalert


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An estimated 2400 people are killed every year and many more seriously injured where a driver has fallen asleep at the wheel.
According to the U.S. 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. As tragic as these numbers are, they only tell a portion of the story. It is widely recognized that drowsy driving is underreported as a cause of crashes. And this doesn't include incidents caused by driver inattention.

Drowsy driving is all too common, especially among young men aged 25 and under. Night workers who rotate their schedules are also at high risk. Others at risk include people who regularly drive long distances and those who have sleep disorders. The highest risk times of day for drowsy driving accidents to occur is in the mid-afternoon and overnight hours

Drowsy driving s just as Dangerous as drunken driving, Children playing, people taking a walk has been victims of such accidents.

Driver fatigue is the main reason for drowsy driving . . At 60mph if you close your eyes only for a second you have traveled 88 feet. Mishaps caused by drowsy drivers is generally fatal as dozing drivers do not brake before a crash.

I would recommend all drivers to use a very simple safety device No Nap

No Nap is a inexpensive automobile safety device, that prevents drivers falling asleep at the wheel. This intelligent device is designed to detect when the driver is in danger of DOZING off and immediately alerts him / co-passengers. Prevents a potential crash. The light weight gadget fits over drivers left ear and triggers alert buzzer observing the drivers drowsiness. No Nap is a essential safety device a MUST HAVE on all road travels.

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