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Sleep Disorders Common Among Professional Drivers


Sleep Disorders Common Among Professional Drivers

The Swedish Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine Society (SFSS) recently organized the third annual Swedish Sleep Medicine Congress in Gothenburg, Sweden. The congress was held from 21 to 23 April, and about 250 researchers, doctors and invited guests from around the world participated in it.

They presented new knowledge about sleep mechanisms, our biological clock and the impact of sleep disorders on society in general. They also presented quite a few new research findings that could lead to improved treatment and diagnosis of various sleep disorders.  Scientists from the Sahlgrenska Academy were among the speakers, including Mahssa Karimi, who is a doctoral student from the Center for Sleep and Vigilance Disorders; they reported their latest research results. The subjects of her research were 116 bus and tram drivers in Gothenburg. The study found that:

 

  • 28% of those drivers had a difficult time getting to sleep
  • 23% of them had problems with pronounced daytime sleepiness
  • 19% had sleep apnea; a condition that causes pauses in breathing while asleep, resulting in tiredness and difficulty concentrating during the day
  • 29% suffered from restless legs.

 

Because previous studies have shown that patients with sleep apnea have a significantly increased risk of accidents due to drowsiness, the research concentrated on those patients.

 

The drivers who suffered from sleep apnea were treated with a CPAP machine; a breathing mask was used to maintain a positive pressure in the airways, keeping them open, and thus preventing snoring and apnea when sleeping. The study showed that after being treated, the drivers stopped having episodes of apnea during the night, and so they had greatly reduced daytime sleepiness and significantly lower blood pressure.

 

In the group of professional drivers who hadn’t already sought medical assistance for their problems, the researchers had to actively look for sleep disorders. A large number of sleep disorders were found in these drivers that affected the alertness and concentration in many of them. However, there was a clear improvement when the drivers received treatment for these disorders.

 

Because the work of professional drivers demands alertness and concentration at all times, the findings of this research suggest that it’s quite important to systematically examine these professional drivers as well as other professional groups entrusted with the safety of others, so that any sleep disorders that they have can be treated.

 

Sleep apnea:

Affecting about 4% of men and 2% of women, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is quite common. Snoring and pauses in breathing while asleep and sleepiness during the day are the symptoms of this condition. The risk of complications increases, such as high blood pressure, when the condition is left untreated. Obesity can contribute to the development of sleep apnea, but hereditary factors may also play a role; however, the exact cause of this condition is still not known. The daytime sleepiness caused by sleep apnea could be reduced by treatment with a CPAP machine or an OAT mouthpiece.

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Prepared By: Dr. Mehyar Al-Khashroum
Edited By: Miss  Araz Kahvedjian




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