What is Excessive Daytime Sleepiness ?

More than 100,000 Americans have excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). It strikes both males and females and affects people of all races.  In today's hustle and bustle society, getting enough sleep is not an important factor due to the other priorities we have that fill our busy days and nights.  However, doctors and researchers are recently beginning to understand just how important sleep is to our overall health and well-being. It is not uncommon for individuals who do not get enough sleep at night to EDS is usually a consequence of too little sleep or extremely disrupted sleep.  It is widely recognized in our society today. 

The most common cause is an inadequate amount of sleep.  Most of us need 7- 8 hours to be fully rested.  Surprisingly, many people do not actually recognize that they are sleepier than they should be. They become accustomed to being sleepy and consider it normal.  However, patients need to recognize this symptom and need to seek medical help.  

The sleepiness may take the form of sudden, short attacks of irresistible sleep or lack of concentration.  The key to successful treatment is correct identification of its underlying cause.  Therefore, it is very important to choose the right sleep laboratory to diagnose and treat the patients sleep disorder.  Serenity Sleep Laboratories Inc. is the leading diagnostic center in Southern California and welcomes all the patients who experience sleep difficulties to diagnose and treat their sleep related problems.  

If interested, help yourself to determine if you are sleepier than normal by taking the Epworth Sleepiness Test.  If you are sleepy despite getting an adequate number of hours of sleep, it is very likely that you have a sleep disorder.  

The following symptoms can indicate EDS. If you notice one or more of these symptoms, give us a call at (818) 807-5337 and we can help you diagnose your sleep disorder.

There are many disorders, most common ones that cause sleepiness are:

•Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) 
•Restless Legs Syndrome/Periodic Leg Movement Disorder

Importance of Daytime Sleepiness in Society
Dangerous sleepiness can occur in anyone, not just people with serious sleep disorders.  These include job and vehicular accidents, loss of productivity, irritability, poor memory and school difficulty.  Being sleepy behind a wheel is always dangerous. 

Sleep deprivation is also a major cause of commercial trucking accidents. It slows response times and can cause a driver to fall asleep on the job. For truck drivers, the situation is even more dangerous. Due to their size, trucks can cause a lot more damage in a collision. Trucks also require longer response times to brake or swerve.  A sleepy truck driver can cause serious car accidents, pedestrian accidents, and damage.

Traffic accidents are a major cause of death, injury and property loss.  More and more studies are finding that falling asleep at the wheel is a major factor, perhaps the most important after alcohol in causing traffic accidents.  Fatigue-related traffic accidents usually involve no more than one or two vehicles. Yet, they are the most destructive of all to life and property, perhaps because the sleep deprived drivers are so inattentive. There is a direct correlation between sleep deprivation and traffic accidents that cannot be disputed.  

A study by the Center for Traffic Safety at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center determined that as many as 15% of all vehicle accidents are due to falling asleep, or fatigue-related inattentiveness, at the wheel.

Modern day problems of sleep-related accidents extend beyond highway travel to industry as well. What is alarming is that so many more people can be hurt by a sleepy or inattentive worker.  For example, when a train driver or a nuclear power engineer falls asleep on the job, the result can be catastrophic.  In fact, a major review conducted in 1996 suggested that the oil spill of the Exxon Valdez, the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger, the nuclear accident in Chernobyl (which arose from mistakes that occurred between midnight and 3:00 AM costing 50, 000 lives) and the nuclear accidents at the Three Mile Island and Peach Bottom reactors were all associated with sleep deprivation of the personnel involved.  In 1998, 24,318 deaths were cited from accidents related to sleep deprivation in the US. There were as well 2, 474,430 disabling injuries resulting from accidents where decreased mental efficiency and attentiveness due to sleep loss was the major causative factor.

The decision to launch, which lead to the Space Shuttle disaster on January 28, 1986, came during this same early morning peak in sleepiness.  Moreover, the NASA officials involved in that decision were seriously overworked and sleep-deprived.  Therefore, whether on the road and/or in the work place, it is important to get enough sleep and recognize the signs of excessive sleepiness. Protect yourselves and others.

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