If you snore, your loud breathing may not just be a threat to your loved ones' peace and quiet. According to a new study, your nightly noises could put your fellow drivers at serious risk the next day.
When a Harvard researcher looked at the results of a national sleep survey from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, he found roughly 53 percent of Americans said they snore. This group tended to get fewer hours of sleep at night.
Alarmingly, the snorers were also about 50 percent more likely to have fallen asleep behind the wheel than people who didn't snore. Driving while sleepy is a common cause of vehicle accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowsy driving is the cause of 6,000 fatal crashes every year.
If you snore, addressing this problem can keep you safer on the road and improve your overall health.
A Common Issue May Lead to Serious Concerns
Several forces you can't control play a role in snoring. One is gravity. As you lie asleep at night, your tongue and the tissues in your throat may shift out of position, according to the National Sleep Foundation. As your breath travels in and out, it causes your relaxed throat to vibrate, which produces the snoring sound. Also, as you get older, snoring tends to become more of a problem.
However, you can take action to manage several other issues that can contribute to snoring. If you're overweight, which is a common risk factor for snoring, losing weight might help, according to the National Institutes of Health. Avoiding alcohol in the evening may also help you snore less, the NSF noted.
You may also want to talk to your doctor about snoring, since it can be a sign of a problem called sleep apnea, according to the NIH. If you have this condition, you may briefly stop breathing during your sleep, over and over. Symptoms can include drowsiness, headaches and irritability the next day.
Watch For Signs of Drowsy Driving
A responsible driver is an alert driver. The CDC urged drivers with sleep-related problems to seek treatment. Also, if you notice any of these signs that you're becoming drowsy behind the wheel, the organization recommended pulling over so you can rest or switch drivers:
Responsible drivers also carry auto insurance to protect them when accidents occur. Want to find great options for auto coverage? CoverHound is a leading provider of insurance quotes for drivers in the U.S.