Sleep deprivation is common in both individuals with sleep disorders and those that work shift work. In many cases, individuals working shift work also have very demanding jobs requiring absolute accuracy. A well respected local Sleep Specialist, Dr. Harvey Moldofsky, testified in Court that a nurse that mistakenly injected an 11 month–old infant with two fatal doses of morphine, may have had impaired judgement, due to her constantly changing sleep schedule. Dr. Moldofsky said that he felt it was his “civil responsibility” to share his knowledge about the affect shift work has on an individual’s ability to perform their job.
Remedying the Shift work problem can be difficult for certain professions, however, Sleep Apnea can be easily treated through a variety of therapies; so, there is no reason to live with Sleep Deprivation. A Stanford University study found that 78% of 159 commercial truckers tested suffered from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This is three times higher than in the general population. The National Sleep Foundation has identified commercial truck drivers among its top five groups of people at risk of falling asleep while driving. With regards to Truck accidents citing sleepiness, fatigue was a primary cause in 31 percent of accidents studied in which the trucker died.
Another study investigated 107 single-vehicle accidents in which the driver survived and discovered that 58% were related to fatigue-with 18% of the drivers admitting they had fallen completely asleep. The drivers in this sample had obtained only 5.5 hours of sleep during their preceding sleep periods: 2.5 hours less than the average reported by truckers with non-fatigue related accidents.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has estimated that up to 200,000 motor vehicle accidents per year may be sleep-related. One of every five drivers admits to having fallen asleep at least once behind the wheel, and 69% of motorists report drowsiness while driving. Various studies have associated OSA with up to a 12-fold increased incidence of motor vehicle accidents. A British study showed that 93% of sleep apneics were at fault in one or more accidents.
The significance of these figures is increased by the fact that truck drivers have the highest on-the-job mortality rate of any profession!
Sleep Apnea and Driving SIMPLY DON’T MIX!