Is Sleep Apnea Affecting How You Drive?

  • August 19, 2016


This drive home is taking a lot longer than usual. You want to pull over and rest.

You can tell that there has been some kind of road work or an accident further ahead, but you can’t tell how far down the road or how bad it is.

You’re next to the shoulder already. It won’t hurt anything if you just slip over there and put the car in park. Maybe the news will have an update on the situation …



Is that your cell phone?

“Where are you? You were supposed to be here hours ago?”

You start to explain about the traffic, but you look up and realize the congestion is gone. You look at the clock. You’ve been asleep for two hours.

“Sorry,” you say. “I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”

As mad as your spouse is, you know pulling over was probably a good thing. You had been nodding off throughout the drive home. Who knows what might have happened if you had tried to keep driving.

So far, you are the only person who knows that your daytime sleepiness has become more common. You also think you may need to talk to someone about it.

You may not know it, but daytime sleepiness is a common symptom of a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. You also may not know that dentists can help.

If you live in or near Ridgecrest, CA, schedule a consultation with Dr. Joseph at The Dentist House.

Other Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Daytimes sleepiness is a common symptom of sleep apnea, but it can be caused by other problems as well.

To determine if you have sleep apnea, you should undergo a sleep test. The Dentist House works with companies that do this kind of test, and we can help you schedule one if you would like.

Before you do that, you may want to consider some of the other common sleep apnea symptoms. This will give you a better idea if sleep apnea may be a reasons for your frequent drowsiness.

► Loud, persistent snoring

► Frequent breathing stoppages when you are asleep

► Waking up feeling like you are gasping for breath

► Feeling irritable

► Feeling as tired when you wake up as you did when you went to sleep

You may want to ask your spouse, a friend, or a roommate about the first two symptoms.

The Consequences of Sleep Apnea

When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing throughout the night. In severe cases, this can happen 30 or more times per hour.

To deal with this — and to keep you alive — your body will wake you up long enough to take a breath before you fall back asleep. This affects your body is several ways that can be detrimental to your health.

First, you aren’t getting healthy sleep. If you are constantly waking, dozing off, waking, and dozing off, then you never reach the deep stages of sleep. Health experts consider deep sleep an essential part of our how our bodies recover.

Without deep sleep, you feel sleep deprived, which increased the likelihood of daytime sleepiness, including behind the wheel of a car. A study published in the journal Sleep last year found that people with untreated sleep apnea were 2.5 times more likely to be the driver in an automobile accident than the general population.

Since not breathing is in and of itself bad for your health, your body is releasing stress hormones while you are asleep. This can explain why people with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to have strokes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and cardiovascular disease.

You Need To Breathe

In order to treat you sleep apnea, you need to find a way to keep yourself breathing throughout the night. (This will alleviate or at least reduce your snoring, too.)

At The Dentist House, we can help with this issue by creating an oral appliance that you can wear while you sleep.

This kind of appliance has been approved as a primary treatment for people who have been diagnosed with mild or moderate sleep apnea and as an alternative treatment for people who have trouble using a CPAP machine.

The consequences of letting your sleep apnea go untreated can be serious. If you suspect this is a possibility, please get tested so you will know what your next step should be.

If you live in or near Ridgecrest, CA, our dentist office would like to help you set up a sleep study. You can contact us online or by calling 760-657-4049.