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Sleeping disorder puts one in 20 drivers at risk

More than 1.4 million UK drivers are unaware they suffer from a sleeping disorder, which is believed to cause up to one in five accidents.

One in 20 drivers unknowingly suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome, according to research carried out by the RAC. Its findings suggests the sleeping disorder may be the cause for up to one in five accidents on the road. The condition is said to be representative of a growing number of obesity cases and increasdi lazy lifestyles.

The RAC described the condition in full detail: “It is a serious condition where the muscles in the throat relax too much during sleep, obstructing the airway, which causes the sufferer to temporally stop breathing and consequently repeatedly wake up to start breathing again.”

It is believed the sufferer is usually unaware this is going on and that it can occur hundreds of times throughout the night. The sufferer will feel very tired the next day as a result of losing sleep. This, according to the RAC, makes them “six times more likely to have an accident than others”.

RAC has joined forces with the Sleep Apnoea Partnership Group in an attempt to raise awareness. The RAC commented: “While 40,000 people have been diagnosed and are being treated for the condition, it is believed that up to 1.4million drivers have not been diagnosed.”

So what can be done to treat the condition? “The usual treatment is to use a simple continuous positive airway pressure device while asleep,” leading sleep clinician¬†professor John Stradling explained.

Prof Stradling said typical sufferers are often overweight and lead sedentary kind of lifestyles. Those who spend a long time behind the wheel are also at risk. Anyone affected by the condition to the extent it impairs driving should notify the DVLA.

“We fully understand that there is a very reasonable concern among drivers about losing their driving licence, but the treatment available today is very effective and need not necessitate a long period of time off the road,” Prof Stradling concluded.

RAC technical director David Bizley advised anyone who is concrned about the disorder should speak to their GP.

Can you relate with any of the symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome? Let us know your experience by posting a comment below.

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