Monday, March 21, 2011

Driver Fatigue Investigated After NYC Bus Crash

In Dr. David Volpi's recent Huffington Post article, he writes that last week's bus accident that killed 15 people after crashing near the Bronx, NY, has raised multiple questions for federal investigators. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate if the bus driver was so fatigued he was incapable of driving properly.

Dr. Volpi notes that there is no question that fatigue might have contributed to this crash since it is a major cause of crashes -- not just for buses, but for trucks, airplanes, trains and boating accidents, as well.

Drowsy driving is more prevalent than previously expected. Last fall, the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety polled 2,000 drivers. One-third of them admitted to either nodding off or completely falling asleep while they were driving in the past year.

More than half of those polled by AAA reported they fell asleep on a high-speed highway. Although it might seem more common to doze off during long car rides, 59 percent said they'd been driving under an hour before they had fallen asleep. Drowsy driving can happen at any time. Twenty-six percent reported that it happened in the middle of the day, between noon and 5 p.m.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving "results in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and more than 100,000 accidents each year" and that 57 percent of driving crashes caused by fatigue involved the driver drifting into other lanes or even off the road.

Motor vehicle accidents due to “drowsy driving” account for $48 billion in medical costs each year.

To prevent drowsy driving, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the following tips:

• Get a full night of seven to eight hours of sleep before driving.
• Avoid driving late at night.
• Avoid driving alone.
• On a long trip, share the driving with another passenger.
• Pull over at a rest stop and take a nap.
• Use caffeine for a short-term boost.
• Take a short nap after consuming caffeine to maximize the effect.
• Arrange for someone to give you a ride home after working a late shift.

Learn more about drowsy driving here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Can OSA Jeopardize Brain Power?

The association between moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and impaired neurocognitive function is well established. It is unclear whether this association is related to low oxygen levels or the repeated arousals during sleep.

A new study in the journal Sleep and Breathing examined the association between cogitative function and OSA.

Researchers aimed to describe verbal memory and executive function in adults using the Berlin Questionnaire. It also investigated the relationship between cognitive function and OSA severity. .
They study included 290 adults with an average age of 48 years. Fifty-five percent of participants were female. They received the Berlin Questionnaire by mail and demonstrated a high-risk for OSA.

Participants’ verbal memory was assessed by Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test and executive function by the Stroop test. OSA severity indicators were measured by polysomnography (PSG).

Results show that average oxygen saturation was the indicator of OSA severity most strongly associated with cognitive function. Researchers found that adults at high risk of OSA demonstrated verbal memory and executive function impairments.

Find out if OSA is affecting your brain power.

Image by Rich Lyons

Friday, March 4, 2011

CDC Finds 1 in 20 Drivers Nod Off at the Wheel!

This ABC video reports on the new Center for Disease Control (CDC) study examining American's sleep habits. It was the first time they looked at drowsy driving. One in twenty Americans admitted to nodding off at the wheel in the past month! The Department of Transportation estimates that drowsy driving accounts from more than 1,500 deaths and 40,000 injuries per year.
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The report also found that 1/3 of Americans report getting less that the recommended 7 hours of sleep. Forty percent said they fell asleep unintentionally in the past month.

The Institute of Medicine estimates that 50 to 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder.

To date, there are about 90 official sleep disorders, the three most common being insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening disorder in which people stop breathing during sleep, Dr. Philip Westbrook, former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, recently told Women’s Health.

Read more here.

Disclaimer

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.