NEW YORK. Driving while sleepy is incredibly dangerous. Yet, recent studies indicate that the drivers among us who most need to be alert and awake may be the most at risk for sleep disorders. According to the Sleep Help Institute, truck drivers can suffer from a range of medical conditions that can put them at risk of being fatigued behind the wheel. Because these sleep disorders plague drivers while they are asleep, they may not always be aware that they suffer from these conditions.
Sleep apnea, drug use, sleeping pill use, and sleeping in a sleeper berth are all risk factors for truck drivers. The most robust studies on sleep apnea were performed on pilots, but when truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea, they can suffer from similar symptoms, which can impact their ability to safely drive. Sleep apnea is a breathing problem that can interrupt a person’s sleep, turning an 8-hour night into a night of sleep worth only 5. Using drugs to stay awake or to fall asleep can also interfere with quality of sleep, and also impede a driver’s ability to detect how fatigued he or she is. Finally, sleeping in a sleeper berth can also be risky. If a truck driver doesn’t give himself or herself enough time to wake up, he or she can be fatigued while on the road.
Sleep disorders can sometimes be difficult to detect. With sleep apnea, a person’s breathing starts and stops throughout the night. Because the disorder affects a person’s breathing while asleep, sleep apnea isn’t always diagnosed unless a person snores loudly or already starts to experience fatigue. According to Bustle, sleep apnea can seriously impact a person’s health and safety—especially if the person operates heavy machinery, like, say, a truck. Sleep apnea can interfere with memory consolidation, metabolism regulation, and it can even impact a person’s immune system.
What are some signs drivers should watch for that can indicate that a sleep disorder might be the cause? Bustle notes that feeling irritable, or feeling distracted while driving can be an early sign that a sleep disorder might be impacting your sleep. You can also look at your interpersonal relationships. Conversation requires high levels of brain functioning. Feeling introverted, feeling angry with others, or getting into fights with a significant other could be a sign of a sleep disorder. If you find yourself catching colds or getting sick very often, this could also be a sign of a sleep disorder because sleep disorders can impact your immune system health. Sleep disorders can also increase your levels of anxiety and can even impact levels of depression if you are prone to these conditions.
Finally, if you’ve been told that you snore, you might want to get checked out for sleep apnea. Snoring can be a symptom of this condition.
Antin, Ehrlich, & Epstein, L.L.P. are personal injury attorneys in New York who see firsthand how devastating sleep disorders can be on drivers. If you or a loved one has been in an accident due to another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to seek damages for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages. Visit us at https://aeelaw.com/ to learn how our New York City personal injury attorneys might be able to help you.
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