Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Driving
Driving requires a certain set of skills, including eye-hand coordination and spatial awareness. These call for full concentration, and the lack of such has resulted in accidents that involved the use of mobile phones while driving. There is sufficient evidence indicating the connection between sleepiness and fatigue which has accounted for around 20% of driving accidents in the US. Most of these cases happened due to inadequate sleep, and they tend to happen during times when concentration levels hit rock bottom, such as during the afternoon or at night. However, some are the result of medical conditions.
The role played by sleep apnea in traffic accidents has been well-documented for over 20 years. In fact, there have been a lot of studies that have clearly shown a connection, especially when the severity of the OSA is high. Obstructive sleep apnea can drastically affect one’s sleep pattern, to the extent where it causes excessive sleepiness resulting to higher road-related accident rates for OSA patients.
However, it’s not yet fully confirmed which aspects of sleep disturbance in sleep apnea affect one’s driving skills. Only one thing is for certain— some people who have OSA have higher risks of road-related accidents than those without. Since it affects one’s sleep pattern, it will also affect his performance and alertness during the day. Leaving it untreated will make it difficult for him to stay awake and maintain focus.
A lot of sleep apnea patients will say that they won’t fall asleep while driving. However, it doesn’t always mean that they have to fall asleep to get caught up in an accident. Just by going out of focus and becoming less attentive, one could get involved in an accident.