Every year we see new campaigns released by the health and police departments warning us against the dangers of drinking alcohol and then getting behind the wheel. You wouldn’t slam a six pack and then jump behind the wheel, but would you drive to work in the morning if you’d missed a few hours of sleep the night before? If you’re answer is yes, then you’re likely putting yourself and everyone else on the road at great risk. If you’re a person with untreated sleep apnea, it’s likely that you’re not getting enough sleep at night and you might be a danger on the road, maybe even as dangerous as a drunk driver.

How Does Sleep Apnea Lead to Daytime Exhaustion?

Sleep apnea is a medical condition that occurs when your airway is unable to maintain uninterrupted breathing during the night. Sometimes this is cause by issues with your brain’s ability to send and receive signals to and from the lungs, but generally, sleep apnea is the result of a partial or complete obstruction of the windpipe. Obesity, chronic sinus issues, and relaxation of the throat muscles can all be responsible for obstructive sleep apnea.

When your sleep disorder causes you to stop breathing for seconds or minutes at a time, your brain “wakes up” from rest and reminds your body to move or adjust so that you’ll begin breathing again. These moments of waking are called “micro-arousals” and result in fragmented sleep. When your sleep is fragmented, it means that you are losing sleep repeatedly through the night and the end product is daytime sleepiness. These moments can also cause affect reaction time, a very important part of decision making and driving. In football players found to have sleep apnea, their reaction times were noticeably lower.

How is Sleep Deprivation Anything Like Drinking and Driving?

If you’re still not convince that drowsy driving is impaired driving, take a look at a few facts. Where alcohol accounts for 31% of all traffic fatalities, driving while drowsy is responsible for 10-30% of all total vehicle accidents. When your reaction time is slower, and your level of sleepiness is equal to .05 or .10 Blood Alcohol Content, you should never get behind the wheel.

Driving With Sleep Apnea

Because of the frequent wakings and total sleep deprivation overtime, people with sleep apnea are three times as likely to be involved in a life-threatening car accident than those without the sleep disorder. Dr. Alan Mulgrew at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver said that, “”When we looked at the small number of truly awful crashes — head-on collisions and collisions with pedestrians or cyclists — 80% of the crashes of that kind were in sleep apnea patients.”

Start CPAP Therapy and Avoid Driving Impaired

The best way for sleep apnea patients to stay safe on the road? Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy. The use of a CPAP machine normalizes daytime exhaustion the more it is used, meaning you’re less likely to be driving while drowsy. If you’re snoring, waking with dry mouth, and feeling tired during the day, discuss the potential of having sleep apnea with your doctor. If you’ve already been diagnosed, don’t wait to get treatment any longer. The health care professionals at Breatheeasycpap.com are ready to help you get your treatment started with high quality CPAP machines and comfortable sleep apnea masks. You want to be a responsible driver, so take care of your health and begin living responsibly today.