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Sleep Apnea: The Accident-Causing Condition You May Not Even Know You Have

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If you don’t believe the way you sleep affects how you function during the day, you may want to think again. Along with having a negative impact on your ability to focus, perform to your capabilities, and control your emotions, not getting enough sleep can also cause life-threatening issues over time.

Another danger of not getting the proper amount of sleep is getting involved in a traffic accident. One of the most dangerous sleeping disorders, and the one most likely to cause a traffic accident, is sleep apnea.

How a Sleep Apnea Study Is Helping Truckers Drive More Safely

Schneider, a trucking company, is being credited with helping truckers and those who share the road with them through their involvement in a sleep apnea study. Conducted by the University of Minnesota, this 10-year study, which is believed to be the first of its kind among the truck-driving community, has been screening truck drivers for obstructive sleep apnea and monitoring their treatment.

The study followed 1,600 Schneider drivers and the same number of control drivers who had similar job tenure and duties. The drivers were given treatment machines that could be used in their homes and in the truck sleeping berths. The effect the machines had on the drivers with apnea was eye-opening: the risk of becoming involved in a preventable crash was five times higher for drivers with obstructive sleep apnea who didn’t receive the recommended treatment, than for those who did.

This means that out of 1,000 drivers over a one-year period, the drivers with untreated obstructive sleep apnea would have 70 preventable crashes, compared to 14 crashes from the control group who did not have sleep apnea or who received treatment for their sleep apnea.

The bottom line is, drivers—especially those who operate large and dangerous rigs—perform better when they get the uninterrupted sleep they need. This keeps them safe, and those they share the road with safe, as well.

Why Sleep Apnea Is So Dangerous

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes those who have it to experience disturbances in their breathing while they are sleeping. More specifically, the disturbances are actually pauses, which can last for a few seconds to a few minutes. The pauses can occur 30 times or more in an hour, and are often resolved with a loud snort or choking sound when normal breathing resumes.

The breathing pauses cause those affected to transition from a deep sleep to a light sleep, which often leaves them feeling tired and unrested when they wake up in the morning. In fact, sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime tiredness.

One of the most common forms of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which is the type that the study participants had. This kind of sleep apnea occurs because the airway collapses or becomes blocked when sleeping, which is why many who have this sleep disorder snore loudly, as the air tries to squeeze through the blocked passageway. A majority of people affected by sleep apnea are overweight or have tonsil problems.

The lack of sleep that truck drivers who have sleep apnea experience often causes them to have trouble focusing while driving. Not concentrating on the road can result in serious accidents that can kill or injure the drivers themselves or those around them.

Fortunately, treatment options are available for those with apnea, and include mouthpieces, breathing devices, surgery, and lifestyle changes.

Did a Drowsy Driver Cause Your Accident?

If you were the victim of a collision that caused major injuries, you could be eligible to receive financial compensation that can help to pay for expenses related to your accident, such as medical bills, vehicle repairs, and time lost from work. The attorneys of Wayne Wright want to help you fight for your rights and potentially receive the help you deserve. Schedule your free, no-obligation consultation by calling 800-237-3334. Get the help you need and deserve and begin to move forward with your life.

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