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Sleep apnea

Drivers & shift workers

If you are a shift worker, night worker, or driver, you should be especially aware of the risks of sleep apnea.

If your sleep patterns change often, or if you sleep in the day and work at night, you are at higher risk for sleep apnea. People who work in shifts are more than twice as likely to get sleep apnea as 9-to-5 workers.

If you work shifts or nights, learn the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. If you think you might have sleep apnea, see your doctor.

Being sleepy on the job can be dangerous. People with untreated sleep apnea have a seven times more risk of traffic or work-related accidents because of daytime sleepiness.

Driving and sleep apnea

People with untreated sleep apnea are at higher risk of motor vehicle collisions (car crashes). If you have sleep apnea, your risk of a car crash is seven times higher than normal. Collisions caused by sleepy drivers are often severe and cause serious injuries.

To protect yourself and others, get treatment for your sleep apnea.

Itís safe for you to drive again after one to three weeks of CPAP treatment. At that point, your risk of having a crash becomes the same as other drivers.

Reporting untreated sleep apnea

Doctors have a duty to tell the motor vehicle branch about patients who are not safe to drive. If you have sleep apnea and you refuse treatment, your doctor is required to report you. The motor vehicle branch could suspend (take away) your license until you get your sleep apnea treated.

You may also have to report your sleep apnea diagnosis to other agencies. Check with your insurance company, or provincial driverís license issuer about medical conditions that need to be reported.

Warning: If you have sleep apnea and are not using your CPAP, and if you get into a car crash caused by sleepiness, your auto insurance may be void (cancelled).

You need to use CPAP all night, every night. If you arenít using your CPAP, you will be a sleepy, unsafe driver.

Could I lose my driverís license?

If you have untreated sleep apnea, you could lose your drivers license. But if your sleep apnea is well treated, youíll be allowed to drive.

Please do not delay getting help for your sleep apnea because youíre scared of losing your license. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may have your license restricted until you begin CPAP treatment. Once you begin treatment successfully, you should be fine to drive. If, however, you do not agree to treatment, your license may be taken away.