Sleep is vital for health and preventing various medical conditions, but perhaps the greatest risk is that which we impose on others while driving sleepy. Research says that 51 percent of American drivers, or about 100 million people, admit to driving while sleepy. More than 70,000 people are injured in fall-asleep crashes every year.

What are the causes of drowsiness?

Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is a common problem. While fatigue is not abnormal, EDS can be a symptom of other sleep disorders, like apnea. Many mistakenly ignore EDS as a normal condition of working, raising kids and of life, when in reality sleep diagnostics and treatment could significantly increase the quality of life.

Fragmented sleep, such as is present with EDS, can be caused by a number of different things. Unfortunately, the harm is often self-imposed. Research suggests that a high percentage of Americans choose to deprive themselves of sleep, which causes many health problems and leads to car accidents.

The National Sleep Foundation says that 45 percent of adults will reportedly give up sleep to get more work done. And almost the same percentage give up sleep simply to watch TV or be on the internet.

Hypersomnia, a problem often tied to EDS, is when a person is very sleepy during the day, sleeps for longs periods of time, and doesn’t feel refreshed after sleeping. The cause isn’t known, but sleep doctors can identify the problem and offer remedies.

Getting rid of daytime sleepiness

A sleep specialist like Dr. Thomas has a variety of tests and tools at her disposal to diagnose and treat excessive daytime sleepiness. Having these tests done by a sleep professional is important because EDS is often a symptom of a larger problem, like sleep apnea or insomnia.

Fixing the problem will make you a safer driver, a more productive worker and a happier person.