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Sleep apnea can put your health at risk in a variety of ways, from creating physical health problems to contributing to mental health issues including depression. Another associated danger that you might not be aware of is the link between obstructive sleep apnea and car accidents.

A study published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that people who have sleep apnea are 2.5 times more likely to be the driver in a motor vehicle accident than people in the general population. This means that sleep apnea is a major risk factor for car accidents.

Sleep apnea causes unrestful sleep, which can leave drivers drowsy during the day. That drowsiness may be exacerbated if people take sleeping pills or other medications to help with their sleep. The problem is that many of those drowsy drivers may not know that they have sleep apnea, especially if they sleep alone. Many people who are diagnosed with sleep apnea become aware of the symptoms because a sleeping partner or roommate tells them that they snore or gasp or wake up frequently at night. Another major problem is that some people with sleep apnea become chronically drowsy and so in a sense get used to the feeling, meaning they can’t tell if they are too sleepy to drive safely.

If you don’t have anyone to point out the symptoms, it can be very hard to know that sleep apnea is disturbing your sleep. Therefore you may try different solutions that don’t address the real problem, leaving you sleepy behind the wheel and everyone else on the road in danger from your driving.

It only takes a moment for the worst to happen. If you find yourself regularly tired when you drive, and you don’t sleep well, sleep apnea might be the cause.

The good news is that sleep apnea can be treated. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, make an appointment to see Dr. Rotenberg to get an official diagnosis and see what your treatment options are. A consultation could save your life – whether you drive or not.