Leeds researchers: ‘Snorers are a danger on roads’

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Heavy snorers are a danger on the roads because they are up to six times more likely to be involved in a crash, Leeds researchers have found.

More than one in 50 people suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS) – but aren’t even aware of the problem as they have no memory of their sleep-depriving snoring and broken breathing.

A study by researchers at St James’ University Hospital, Leeds, suggests more than one million Brits could be unaware they are a danger on the roads as a result.

Signs your partner or someone else you know has OSAS include loud snoring, noisy and laboured breathing and repeated short periods where breathing is interrupted by gasping or snorting.

The findings, due to be presented in London today, show that on average people with untreated OSAS are two to six times more likely to be in a road traffic accident than people who don’t snore.

You are more likely to have sleep apnoea if you are male, over 40 or overweight.

Perhaps more surprisingly, one of the more bizarre reasons for having sleep apnoea is having a large neck.

Men with a collar size greater than around 17 inches have an increased risk of developing OSA - or having a small lower jaw.

Smokers are also more likely to have OSA.

If drivers are found to be involved in an accident because of being overtired due to OSA, they can be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000.

Study co-author Dr Mark Elliott said: “We have also shown that nodding off at the wheel and admitting to sleepiness at the wheel are more likely in OSAS patients.

“At the moment there are no validated tools to assess this aspect.”

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