Untreated Sleep Apnea Doubles Your Risk Of Workplace Injury

A chronic sleep disorder might be to blame for a significant number of workplace injuries.

Estimates suggest up to a quarter of adults between ages 30 and 70 are affected by sleep apnea, which causes intermittent pauses in breathing that disrupt sleep and decrease sleep quality.

People with untreated sleep apnea were twice as likely to get hurt at work compared to those without the condition, according to a recent study conducted in Canada. What’s more, sleep apnea sufferers were three times more likely to suffer injuries that were potentially fatigue-related.

“People with sleep apnea have decreased cognitive function, vigilance, attention, and motor function,” said study author Dr. Najib T. Ayas, an associate professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia. “And we know from previous studies that individuals with untreated sleep apnea are at increased risk of motor vehicle crashes.”

The study looked at a group of 1,236 patients referred to the University of British Columbia Hospital Sleep Disorder Laboratory to be evaluated for sleep apnea. The researchers compared the injury claims of 994 patients who were ultimately diagnosed with sleep apnea to the claims of 242 patients who did not have the condition. Claims were only included for injuries that resulted in at least one day of absence from work.

Nearly 10 percent of people with sleep apnea had filed a claim reporting an injury, while only 5.4 percent of those without sleep apnea did the same.

And when looking at what’s called “vigilance-related injuries” — meaning those associated with distractions, such as falls and motor vehicle crashes related to drowsy driving — 4.5 percent of those with sleep apnea filed a claim reporting an injury compared with 1.7 percent of those without sleep apnea.

Why This Data Is More Reliable Than Past Reports

Though other studies have shown —> Read More