Each year driver fatigue results in more than 100,000 car accidents in this country, and takes the lives of an estimated 1,550 citizens.
Actual figures could be much higher since there is no test to determine sleepiness and little police training in identifying drowsy drivers.
In a recent National Sleep Foundation poll, 60% said they have driven a vehicle while sleepy, and 13% say they do so regularly. Men are almost twice as likely to fall asleep behind the wheel as women – and twice as likely to have a condition called obstructive sleep apnea.
As a sufferer relaxes into sleep, soft tissues at the back of the mouth block the flow of oxygen. Breathing becomes very shallow or stops for a period of time.
Then the sleeper snorts, chokes, or jerks awake, and the cycle repeats many times each hour through the night. One of the detrimental side effects of untreated sleep apnea is daytime drowsiness, contributing to vehicle accidents.
Many apneics find relief with a simple custom-fitted oral appliance prescribed by a dentist. It discreetly holds the lower jaw open and slightly forward to keep the airway clear.
Drowsy Driving Prevention Week begins November 11. Ask your dentist for more information on sleep apnea treatment. Read more