Why people with sleep disorders are more likely to cause crashes

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Getting enough sleep is important to safe driving. People who get just a few hours of sleep are more likely to cause accidents the next day.

This possibility can be higher among people with sleep disorders. Below are three sleep disorders that raise the risk of traffic crashes.

Sleep apnea

Someone with sleep apnea may have difficulty falling asleep, as their breathing frequently stops and starts. To protect them, their brain will cause them to wake up to breathe enough. This can happen repeatedly overnight, preventing them from getting a restful sleep.

If such a person drives in the morning, perhaps to work or school, they may feel drowsy behind the wheel, increasing their chances of causing an accident.

Shift work sleep disorder

Most people who work nontraditional hours can develop shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) over time. Due to the disruption of their natural sleep pattern, someone with SWSD may have difficulty sleeping when they want to fall asleep when they shouldn’t. They may feel tired when driving, which can slow their reaction time. They may also experience poor coordination and low concentration levels.


A significant percentage of people who have poor sleeping habits, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or chronic illness have insomnia. That’s a sleep disorder that makes it hard to fall or stay asleep. Insomnia affects how someone functions and feels during waking hours. A driver with insomnia can fall asleep behind the wheel or feel too exhausted to pay attention.

What should they do?

People with sleep disorders should get treatment to avoid endangering road users, as their chances of experiencing driver fatigue can be high.

If you are injured by another driver who may have a sleep disorder, get the information you need to understand and evaluate your options.