Sleep Disorders Lead to Risky Driving Habits

Among people who suffer from sleep apnea, driving habits become riskier as their problem with sleep progresses, according to researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine.

What to know:

  • The frequency with which drivers made dangerous moves behind the wheel rise in parallel with the frequency with which their sleep is interrupted at night because of sleep apnea.

  • For every eight additional breathing interruptions per hour that someone experiences, the odds of making a dangerous driving move, such as speeding, braking hard, or accelerating suddenly, increases by 27%.

  • Degrees of sleep apnea were defined on the basis of the number of breathing interruptions per hour. Having fewer than five breathing interruptions per hour was considered normal, having five to 15 was defined as mild sleep apnea, 15 to 30 was defined as moderate, and more than 30 was defined as severe.

  • Older adults are 30% to 50% more likely to develop mild sleep apnea and are also more likely to be seriously injured or killed in a car accident.

  • Screening older adults for sleep apnea and for treatment may help older people continue driving safely for longer.

This is a summary of the article, “Risky Driving Behaviors Increase As Common Sleep Disorder Worsens,” published by Science Daily on April 20, 2022. The full article can be found on

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