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Problems related to sleepiness

Man yawning hand on forehead

Sleepiness is an intermediate condition between being awake and being asleep, characterised by a slight loss of consciousness that is quickly reversed by the slightest stimulation (noise, changing circumstances). We feel sleepy when we get on the bus or sit down in front of the TV after a hard day. In sleep apnoea, sleepiness is very frequent or even constant. It can occur at even the most inopportune moments, at the office, when driving or when talking with friends.

Often underestimated, sleepiness can be assessed using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale or can be measured by multiple sleep latency tests conducted in a hospital. Sleepiness can be a cause of family and/or social isolation and impaired intellectual, and therefore professional, performance. Driving motorised vehicles and sleepiness do not sit well together. People with even mild OSA are 3 times more likely to be involved in an 'injury or death' crash.¹ Anyone suffering from a lack of sleep is subject to the same drop in vigilance and attention as sufferers of sleep apnoea. Sleepiness can usually be reversed by regular CPAP treatment. If the treatment does not cure sleepiness, then consult your doctor.



1. Mulgrew, A., Nasvadi, G., Butt, A., Cheema, R., Fox, N., & Fleetham, J. et al. (2008). Risk and severity of motor vehicle crashes in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea/hypopnoea. Thorax, 63(6), 536-541. doi: 10.1136/thx.2007.085464