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Braz J Med Biol Res. 2006 Jul;39(7):863-71.

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

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Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.


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.

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