Most of us know all too well how difficult it can be to go through the day after sleeping for only a few hours the night before. However, as bad as these occasional sleepless nights feel, consider how bad it must be for those suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness, a blanket term used to cover such sleep disorders as narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia.
In addition to making it difficult to get through the day, EDS can also present very real dangers to its sufferers. For instance, consider a recently released report by Children's of Alabama hospital in Birmingham, which determined that children with EDS were twice as likely to be struck by a car while crossing the street.
Here, the researchers had 33 children (ages 8 to 16) who were diagnosed with EDS and 33 children (ages 8 to 16) who did not have the condition attempt to cross a simulated street created in a virtual reality lab at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
"This finding extends previous reports documenting the harmful effect of sleep deprivation on transportation safety of adults and adolescents," reads the report. "In particular, this study provides initial evidence to suggest that untreated EDS may be associated with increased injury risk to children in pedestrian settings."
Not only did the study reveal that children with EDS were two times more likely to be involved in a pedestrian accident, but that this remained the case even when they took the time to look both ways before crossing.
The researchers believe that the time-tested safety method of looking both ways before crossing failed these children due to the fact that their fatigue made them merely go through the motions of looking back and forth and back again without any real type of danger processing. In other words, they simply looked without really looking.
The researchers conclude by suggesting that sleep professionals need to make sure that they provide both children with EDS and their parents with more information on the elevated accident risk, and that efforts need to be undertaken to make communities more aware of the problem.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident or pedestrian accident caused by the negligence or recklessness of another, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.
Source: Alabama.com, "Sleepy kids more likely to be hit by a car, Alabama study finds," Mike Oliver, March 3, 2014