SEOUL, Jul. 14 (Korea Bizwire) — A new report says over one in ten South Korean bus drivers suffer from daytime sleepiness, a sleep disorder feared to be responsible for a significant increase in the rate of traffic accidents.
A research team led by Professor of Psychiatry Hong Seung-cheol at the Catholic University of Korea St. Vincent’s Hospital announced on Thursday findings from a study conducted with a sample of 304 bus drivers in Gyeonggi Province, which saw over 13 percent report having experienced daytime sleepiness on the job, after conducting a polysomnography, also referred to as a sleep test.
‘Daytime hypersomnolence’, also known as excessive sleepiness, is a medical condition which can causes a variety of issues, and patients who suffer from the condition often experience a lack of energy and sleepiness during the day.
Often associated with feeling constantly sleepy, a deterioration of sense of direction as well as a lack of muscular coordination, daytime sleepiness can be dangerous, particularly to those who drive for a living like bus drivers, as an increased risk of drowsy driving could lead to fatal car accidents.
Researchers also learned through the study that nearly four in ten bus drivers surveyed experience insomnia, with over 30 respondents having developed a severe case of insomnia.
With nearly three in ten drivers suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, the report warns drowsy driving caused by sleep disorders could have serious consequences for those behind the wheel who are responsible for the lives of their passengers.
Findings showed respondents suffering from a severe case of insomnia faced a 6.2 times higher risk of daytime sleepiness, while the risk facing those with obstructive sleep apnea was nearly 4 times higher than others.
With over 200 out of the 304 bus drivers feeling their quality of sleep is ‘poor’, the government is being urged to improve the working environment for bus drivers.
Hong, who led the study, says, “In order to prevent drowsy driving, drivers with a history of insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea need to be vetted and appropriate medical steps need to be taken.
“As negligence on the part of transportation industry workers could lead to large-scale accidents costing a significant loss of life, the government is being urged to act quickly upon the prevailing issue of sleep disorders.”
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)