Have you ever fallen asleep while driving a car? Most people don’t want to admit it, but many of us have, on occasion, dosed off behind the wheel. It’s a frightening experience, as it should be. If we are sleepy or dozing while driving, we are poised to injure, or perhaps even kill, another person or ourselves—not to mention whomever we’re driving with. It’s serious business!
In sleep disorders treatment centers, it is common to distinguish between two very different types of sleepiness. One type is called “being tired” — the other type is called “fighting to stay awake.” For example, let’s say you’ve had a long day and now face a two hour commute home. It’s normal to be tired during such a drive, maybe even to the point of turning on the radio and opening the window to get some fresh air in the car to help you stay awake. It’s not normal to be fighting to stay awake. Fighting to stay awake means you are nodding off at the wheel, regularly hitting the lane guide bumps, or maybe even pulling off to the side of the road a few times during the drive to have a ten or fifteen minute “cat-nap” to refresh yourself.
The tricky part about a sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime somnolence is that we tend to get used to being tired—to the point where we don’t even know how tired we are. We get used to falling asleep in front of the tv, or when we are reading a book or magazine, or when we sit quietly in a room for ten minutes or so. We get used to pulling off the highway to take cat-naps, or to slipping out on lunch breaks to find a place to lay down for twenty minutes.
If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, please recognize the difference! It’s not normal to live your life fighting to stay awake! Book an appointment with a sleep disorder center located near you today!
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