Driving Under the Influence…of a Sleep Disorder: How Sleep Disorder Assessment Could Save Your Life

Most people wouldn’t risk driving under the influence of alcohol—however, they may be driving under the influence of something else that is life-threatening: not getting enough restful sleep. Every year, nearly 1,500 people die in traffic accidents that are linked to sleep disorders. According to research done by The National Commission on Sleep Disorders, over 100,000 automobile accidents per year are linked to sleep disorders, with nearly 1,500 fatalities and 75,000 injuries annually.

You may think “driving under the influence” of a sleep disorder is a strange correlation, but another factor connects addictive disorders and sleep disorders: aside from addictive disorders, there is no other disease with as much denial as there is with obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Although sleep disorders are extremely common—20% of adults suffer from chronic sleep disorders and an additional 10% of adults suffer from intermittent sleep disorders—many people do not know they have a problem sleeping. Obstructive sleep apnea is a disease that a patient fails to recognize most often.

Dr. Michael Friedman sites why many adults don’t know they have sleep apnea:

  • Patients with sleep apnea can often fall asleep as soon as they lay down.
  • Patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea often sleep like a log and they assume that this means they have no sleep problem.
  • Since the patients do not hear themselves snoring, they are often in denial about the fact that they snore.
  • People with sleep apnea may be fully asleep watching television, reading, or even driving—without even knowing it.

“It turns out that falling sleep when you hit the pillow is not normal,” says Dr. Friedman. “Normal sleep latency is around 15 minutes which means that it should take around 15 minutes to fall asleep after turning lights and the television out. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders are not obtaining rest after sleep, so they often fall asleep instantly.”

Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash

This denial leads many with sleep apnea to go untreated. The exhaustion caused by sleep apnea leads to traffic accidents, and extremely high medical expenses—costing up to an estimated $15 billion annually in direct medical expenses. This matters for businesses that involve commercial driving also; sleep disorders may be responsible for up to 30% of commercial truck driving accidents. It has been estimated that chronic sleep deprivation causes an estimated $70 billion in lost productivity every year.

So what should you do about it? First, assess if you may have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea signs and symptoms

Sleep-related signs include:

  • Sound sleeping
  • Snoring
  • Disrupted breathing
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Daytime sleepiness

Some non-sleep related signs include:

  • Weight gain
  • Dry throat
  • Impaired sexual function
  • Irritability, mood change

If you suspect you aren’t getting restful sleep, make an appointment with one of our physicians who can evaluate you and order any appropriate testing. We can get you on the road to more restful sleep and less risky driving.

Header Photo by Darwin Vegher on Unsplash

Make an appointment. 


Can A CPAP Machine Boost Your Sex Life?

When a patient is diagnosed with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that causes snoring and disrupted sleep, the doctor may recommend treatment with a CPAP machine, a nasal mask that provides more airflow and keeps the airways open during sleep. But many patients who are diagnosed wonder, If I wear this machine, what will happen to my sex life?

Continue reading Can A CPAP Machine Boost Your Sex Life?

New Kids on the Block: Could Your 2nd “Hidden” Tonsils Be Causing Snoring or Sleep Apnea?

Most people are aware of tonsils that are present in the back of the throat. Tonsils are often the cause of sore throat and sometimes strep throat that are painful and require antibiotic treatment. Sometimes tonsils also accumulate debris and form little pockets that fill with white or yellow cheesy material, known as tonsiliths or cryptic tonsillitis. This debris is not dangerous but often annoying. It can cause halitosis (bad breath) and discomfort. Often the only solution is tonsillectomy in severe cases. Continue reading New Kids on the Block: Could Your 2nd “Hidden” Tonsils Be Causing Snoring or Sleep Apnea?

Many People Learned About Inspire Therapy for Sleep Apnea At Our Free Event.

On Thursday, June 14, 2018, Dr. Michael Friedman,  Dr. T.K. Venkatesan, and  Dr. Claire Kenneally held a free community education event at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Olson Auditorium to to discuss Inspire Therapy, a groundbreaking treatment for people who struggle with Sleep Apnea.  Continue reading Many People Learned About Inspire Therapy for Sleep Apnea At Our Free Event.

Fluticasone Propionate Nasal Spray by Apotex Corp: Recall

We want to alert our patients to an important recall worth checking on if you have used nasal spray or have some in your medicine cabinet for future use:

Fluticasone Propionate Nasal Spray by Apotex Corp has been recalled due to the potential for small glass particles in the spray.

Exact specifications for which sprays are affected can be found here on the FDA website.

Trouble Sleeping? Your Sleep Tracking Wearable Might Not Be Helping

At Chicago ENT, we see a lot of patients who have trouble sleeping, and it’s no wonder. Insomnia is a serious disability for over 50 million Americans and requires definitive assessment and treatment.

With wearable technology becoming more common, a lot of people are more aware of their sleep patterns. And knowledge is power, right? Apparently not when it comes to sleep. In fact, in many cases, close tracking of sleep patterns seems to be having a negative effect on sleep. Consider a new study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, in which researchers identified a new sleep disorder: orthosomnia. This disorder involves an obsession with “correct” sleep. Continue reading Trouble Sleeping? Your Sleep Tracking Wearable Might Not Be Helping