What is Sleep Apnea? Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder that causes brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. These pauses in breathing can last at least 10 seconds or more and can occur up to 400 times a night. Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed.
Sleep Apnea affects many people at different times in their life. If you have experienced
• Loud Snoring
• Morning Headaches and nausea
• Gasping or Choking while sleeping that suddenly wake you up from a sound sleep
• Excessive daytime sleepiness
• Irritability and/or feelings of depression
• Disturbed sleep
• Concentration and memory problems
• Frequent nighttime urination
Then you may have sleep apnea. Finding out is not a hard thing to do. The first thing is to be referred to a sleep doctor. An appointment with a sleep center is made and you will check into the center in the evening. You will be “hooked up” to many leads and wires that will monitor your brain and breathing over the case of the night. In the lab they will watch you and their computer will log your sleep disturbances. In the morning the data will be compiled and sent over to your doctor. Together you will both analyze the information and make a decision. Some people do not have sleep apnea, while others do. If you are a driver then you need to be treated.
How Can Sleep Apnea Affect Your Driving? Because sleep apnea affects your sleep, it also affects your daytime alertness and performance. Untreated sleep apnea can make it difficult for you to stay awake, focus your eyes, and react quickly while driving. In general, studies show that people with untreated sleep apnea have an increased risk of being involved in a fatigue-related motor vehicle crash. Many sleep apnea patients say they never fall asleep while driving. That may be true. But, you don’t have to fall asleep to have a crash. You simply have to be inattentive or less alert and with untreated sleep apnea; you are not as sharp or reactive as you should be.
Can You Still Drive if You Have Sleep Apnea? You sure can. While FMCSA (Federal Motor Carriers Association) regulations do not specifically address sleep apnea, they do say that a person with a medical history or clinical diagnosis of any condition likely to interfere with their ability to drive safely cannot be medically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce. But this changesonce the driver is successfully treated, a driver may regain their “medically-qualified-to-drive” status. It is important to note that most cases of sleep apnea can be treated successfully.
What is the treatment for Sleep Apnea? It is the use of a sleep machine. They are called a C-pap or a Bi-pap machine. These machines can be plugged into the regular outlet or have a cigarette outlet plug in attachment. You are fitted with a mask that when used together offers the restful sleep that you need. That’s all there is to it. Yes it seems like a lot to go through but if you are one of the many who suffer from Sleep Apnea, this treatment is wonderful. You have a better night sleep and you are much better to concentrate and take on the next day.