SPECIAL REPORT: Sleep Problems Could Create Danger on the Roads

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If you’re feeling tired, it’s best to stay off the road.

“When you’re driving, you’re constantly taking in information around your vehicle and keeping your vehicle within its lane of travel,” said Trooper Ross Green with Illinois State Police

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 1,500 deaths each year related to drowsy driving, and over 71,000 people are injured. Most of it is all because of actions that are easily preventable.

“Even if you feel like, oh I’m awake right now, you’re driving judgment might not be as good.”

Dr. Sarah Zallek is the medical director for the INI Sleep Center at OSF St. Francis. She says not getting enough sleep has big affects on health, not only driving.

“Our attention is impaired if we haven’t had enough sleep, our judgment is impaired, our reflexes are impaired,” Dr. Zallek.

The symptoms could be even worse if there’s a deeper reason behind it, that hasn’t been diagnosed.

“Trouble thinking, trouble remembering, trouble concentrating and trouble getting along with others,” Dr. Zallek said.

Those problems could be diagnosed with a sleep study. The staff tries several breathing masks before the test, then attaches 27 wires to monitor movement and brain activity during the 9 hour study.  

Sometimes, problems like sleep apnea area found in patients.

“It can raise your blood pressure; it can increase your risk eventually of heart attack, stroke diabetes,” Dr. Zallek said.

If a problem keeps you up, it might be time to get checked before trying to drive.

“Pull over an exit ramp if it’s the interstate, get out of the vehicle, walk around a little bit,” Trooper Green said. 

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