There is considerable interest in the media and from industry and public interest groups following numerous industrial tragic and usually costly accidents resulting from fatigue. The interest increases when the accident is as a result of a driver falling asleep at the wheel.
In many cases it is not due to quantity but quality of sleep, this quality being affected by a common sleep disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), highly prevalent and underdiagnosed. OSA is more common in men aged 30 - 65 years, though it can occur in all age groups. Current data suggests it affects an estimated 4% of males and 2% of females in the UK
It is estimated that only one in 10 patients with the syndrome has so far been diagnosed and treated. The rate of treatment in the UK is lower than most other developed countries
Many people including professional drivers have OSA but are totally unaware. Research found a fifth of motorway collisions are caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel and one in ten crashes on all of Britain's roads - around 23,300 a year are also linked to fatigue
Employers should be aware of this condition. To find out more about OSA visit this page or call 01235 862997 to speak with one of the RealSleep clinical team.
Driving and obstructive sleep apnoea:
- 28% of drivers have untreated sleep apnoea
- These drivers are six times more likely to be in an accident
- These drivers are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke
- Companies spend twice as much on their medical expenses
Taken from research carried out as part of the Sleep 4a Healthy Life programme, run by ResMed in the USA.
Other impacts of OSA:
- Sleepiness caused by OSA is extremely dangerous among drivers and machine operators
- OSA is linked to higher rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, severe headaches and depression
- Tired people are less productive - and OSA sufferers are always tired
As an employer, you can be confident that your investment in diagnosis and treatment will deliver results. In line with the NICE guidance we offer ResMed CPAP machines to diagnosed OSA sufferers. Comfortable, convenient devices combined with our ongoing support services mean that the number of people who continue to use their machines is extremely high.
If your company would like to find out more about the service we can offer, please call us on 01235 862997. We can provide clinical contacts, references from companies who already use our Centres for Healthy Sleep and information for your finance team.
Reference - 1. Pack et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2006;174:446-454