Although sleep apnea happens at night, its effects are felt throughout the day. The impact it has on your sleep can lead to chronic fatigue and daytime sleepiness, and the consequences of this can be serious. According to new research by researchers at the University of British Columbia Hospital Sleep Laboratory, it can double your risk of injury in workplace accidents. And when researchers focused just on vigilance-related accidents, the risk of injury was tripled.

tired truck driver yawns while on the road

A Large Sleep Clinic Population

For this article, researchers looked at over 1200 patients who had been referred to the Sleep Laboratory because they were suspected of having sleep apnea. All subjects received a polysomnography to diagnose sleep apnea. This is an important distinction from other studies on this subject, which often utilize screening questionnaires in lieu of sleep studies.

Then researchers looked at patients’ records to determine which of them had suffered a workplace injury in the previous five years. Only injuries that required at least one day of missed work were counted. It turned out that subjects who had sleep apnea were 1.93 times as likely to experience a workplace injury. However, when other workplace injury factors were included, the risk decreased slightly to 1.76 times more likely to experience workplace injury.

The area of the greatest risk was actually vigilance-related accidents, though. People with sleep apnea were 2.88 times more likely to suffer a workplace injury related to an accident caused by a lack of vigilance, such as falls or motor vehicle accidents. When researchers included other risk factors in their analysis, the relative risk dropped to 2.4 times.

Get Effective Treatment for Your Sleep Apnea

The workplace becomes a dangerous place for you if you have sleep apnea. If you have a job that involves long shifts of repetitive actions related to machinery, it’s hard enough to stay vigilant anyway. If your sleep is being interrupted hundreds of times a night by sleep apnea, it can become nearly impossible to keep alert and focused.

Fortunately, sleep apnea is highly treatable. While CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is the recommended frontline treatment for many people, it’s also hard to adapt to. This means that for many people their CPAP machine is left unused, and their sleep apnea is untreated.

With oral appliance therapy, you can get a more comfortable, more convenient sleep apnea treatment that’s easier to adapt to and comply with, which means that you can actually reduce your risks.

If you are looking for an alternative to CPAP for your sleep apnea, please call (248) 480-0085 for an appointment with a Rochester Hills sleep dentist at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness.