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Sleep disorders
Insomnia and sleep apnea are the most usual sleep disorders among senior drivers and have negative effects on road safety.

Sleeplessness

The effects of chronic insomnia can be treated taking the following measures:

  • Try to avoid prescribing sleeping medication (sleeping pills or light antihistamines) to senior drivers. Sleeping pills do not solve the problem in a long-term and they may even lead to dependency and/or addiction.
  • Despite depression being a cause of insomnia, if you have to prescribe medication, be careful and warn the senior patient that antidepressants and tranquillisers will affect their driving skills.
  • Recommend taking light dinners and not taking stimulants before going to bed, such as coffee, tea, cola or chocolate beverages.
  • Always recommend to avoid alcohol and tobacco, but especially before going to sleep or before driving.
  • Recommend moderate exercise in the afternoon or evening.

 

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea are episodes during which the person stops breathing for a short time while sleeping. The fact of snoring is usually a hint about this disorder which is frequently not noticed by the person affected by it.

Sleep apnea does affect more men than women, and elderly and/or obese people. It causes sleepiness during daytime, especially during automatic actions, such as driving.

If you suspect that an elderly person may be suffering from sleep apnea, you should forward him/her to a neurologist specialised in sleep disorders. The practitioner will perform a study to establish whether it is necessary or not to use a CPAP device (mask connected to a ventilator) in order to make sure that he/she will have a comforting and healthy sleep at night.

 



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