In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 91,000 crashes, 50,000 injuries, and 800 deaths that occurred as a result of drowsy driving. Although these numbers are likely to be much higher, many individuals shrug off the notion that falling asleep behind the wheel is a major concern. If you are someone who struggles to stay awake while driving, it may be that you are struggling with sleep apnea. To find out, keep reading to hear from a sleep specialist who can better explain the dangers of drowsy driving and how being treated for sleep apnea can help.
What Dangers Exist When It Comes to Drowsy Driving?
When it comes to driving while drowsy, the most obvious danger is the possibility of a crash. Whether it involves another vehicle or yourself, losing control of your car and having an accident is a risk you take when choosing to drive while fatigued.
Researchers claim that lack of sleep (a full 24 hours) can cause the same kind of impairment as someone who has a blood alcohol content of 0.10%.
When this happens, the car can veer into oncoming traffic or off into a ditch, resulting in a crash. Because the reaction time is much slower as a result, it makes correction less likely. Not to mention, drowsy driving also contributes to poor decisions, causing some individuals to be unable to reason why they shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a survey that estimates adult drivers who snore or sleep 6 hours or less each night are likely to fall asleep while driving. This is compared to those who don’t snore or who sleep 7 or more hours each day.
However, severe fatigue while behind the wheel is only one symptom of sleep apnea. As a condition that plagues millions of individuals in the United States, there are countless other signs that can be recognized early on, such as:
- Loud snoring
- Sudden jolts throughout the night that cause a person to wake up and gasp for air
- Sore throat
- Inability to focus
- Sleep deprivation
- Morning headaches
- Lack of libido
How Can a Dentist Help Treat Sleep Apnea?
If you suspect that you are suffering from sleep apnea, it’s important that you see a trusted dentist who can help. Those who specialize in sleep medicine can make it easy to receive highly effective care.
Using a variety of methods to address snoring and apnea episodes, a sleep dentist will need to first conduct a test to determine the severity of the blockage that is occurring in your airway. This will make it easier to decide how best to move forward with treatment. It may include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, oral appliance therapy, weight loss treatment, or a combination.
No matter which one your dentist chooses, sticking to the proposed plan will allow you to get the sleep you need while lowering your risk of injury while driving. About the Author
Dr. Kent Smith is a dental sleep medicine expert who leads a team of professionals at Star Sleep & Wellness. Spending his career helping those suffering from sleep apnea, insomnia, and other unique sleep disorders, he and his colleagues make it their mission to provide proven techniques and methods to help others who need sleep apnea treatment. If you are struggling to stay awake while driving or are dealing with one of the other many symptoms, contact us.