Sleep disorders, sleepiness and traffic safety: a public health menace
Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research
Print ISSN 0100-879X
doi: 10.1590/S0100-879X2006000700003

Braz J Med Biol Res, July 2006, Volume 39(7) 863-871 (Review)

Sleep disorders, sleepiness and traffic safety: a public health menace

S.R. Pandi-Perumal1, J.C. Verster2, L. Kayumov3, A.D. Lowe3, M.G. Santana4, M.L.N. Pires4, S. Tufik4 and M.T. Mello4

1Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
2Department of Psychopharmacology, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
3Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, and Sleep and Neuropsychiatry Institute, Scarborough, ON, Canada
4Departamento de Psicobiologia, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brasil

Correspondence and Footnotes

Sleep disorders are not uncommon and have been widely reported throughout the world. They have a profound impact on industrialized 24-h societies. Consequences of these problems include impaired social and recreational activities, increased human errors, loss of productivity, and elevated risk of accidents. Conditions such as acute and chronic insomnia, sleep loss, excessive sleepiness, shift-work, jet lag, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea warrant public health attention, since residual sleepiness during the day may affect performance of daily activities such as driving a car. Benzodiazepine hypnotics and zopiclone promote sleep, both having residual effects the following day including sleepiness and reduced alertness. In contrast, the non-benzodiazepine hypnotics zolpidem and zaleplon have no significant next-day residual effects when taken as recommended. Research on the effects of wakefulness-promoting drugs on driving ability is limited. Countermeasures for excessive daytime sleepiness have a limited effect. There is a need for a social awareness program to educate the public about the potential consequences of various sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, sleep apnea, shift-work-related sleep loss, and excessive daytime sleepiness in order to reduce the number of sleep-related traffic accidents.

Key words: Sleep disorders, Sleepiness, Automobile and truck drivers, Automobile traffic, Public health
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