Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Swedish Researchers Pull the Bell Cord on Sleepy Bus Drivers

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that professional drivers have a high rate of sleep apnea – raising questions about road safety.

The study included 116 bus and tram drivers. Results show that 23 percent of the drivers suffered from daytime sleepiness. Nineteen percent had sleep apnea.

In contrast, an estimated 4 percent of men and 2 percent of women in the general population have sleep apnea.

One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is daytime sleepiness. This sleepiness can cause driving accidents.

The U.S. also has problems with droopy-eyed drivers. A 2006 Institute of Medicine report found that drowsiness costs $150 billion each year in accidents and lost productivity. Another $48 billion in medical costs result from auto accidents involving sleepy drivers.

In a press release, lead author Mahssa Karimi, noted that CPAP treatment reduced daytime sleepiness in drivers with sleep apnea.

Oral appliance therapy is another treatment option.

"Our findings suggest that it's important to systematically examine professional drivers and other professional groups entrusted with the safety of others in order to be able to treat any sleep disorders,” says Karimi. “Their work demands alertness and concentration at all times."

The results will be presented at the annual Swedish Sleep Medicine Congress in Gothenburg. The meeting takes place this April 21 to 23.

Image by Andreas Nilsson

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.