Team-BHP > Road Safety

  Search this Thread
Old 21st December 2016, 14:31   #46
earthian's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Ahmedabad
Posts: 611
Thanked: 2,123 Times
Sleep Apnea: The silent killer on Indian roads

Sleep Apnea

This is a good thread and i would like to add my personal experiences to it. There was a time, duration of about 10 years, when i used to feel very sleepy when i drove on long trips. There have been times when i have had to stop every 20 kms or so and splash water. Keeping awake was a major issue. And the worst part? This was even after a supposedly good nights sleep and having just commenced the journey.

It was worrisome. Then i took a sleep study and was diagnosed with sleep apnea. For those who don't know what is sleep apnea, see this:

Now i can drive even 12 hours in a day without any issue at all. It all boils down to how good a cat 4 sleep you enjoy or get. The solutions are so simple. I now carry a CPAP machine where ever i go and have absolutely no problem at all. It is a life changer. You feel more energetic, more composed and calm, no migraines or headaches, more capable.

It is unfortunate that for many years, i had no time ( sounds familiar?) to get a sleep study done or consult a doctor. We tend to treat this as mere "snoring", rather than a medical problem and one which is so easily solvable, without any drugs or surgery.

If any BHPians want to understand more about this, feel free.

Last edited by earthian : 21st December 2016 at 14:32. Reason: house keeping
earthian is offline   (8) Thanks
Old 21st December 2016, 14:32   #47
heydj's Avatar
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Rotterdam/Delhi
Posts: 535
Thanked: 735 Times
Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
[list][*]Personally, fast music keeps me more alert than say, Buddha Bar / lounge music on the stereo
One of the most valid points apart from getting adequate sleep.

I always listen to trance/techno music as adrenaline keeps me awake, though at no point should it influence driving speed.

Before starting off making a playlist of tracks to listen is a good idea as changes in tunes and genres keeps one mentally active. Prefer this to radio.
heydj is offline   (3) Thanks
Old 21st December 2016, 14:35   #48
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Gurgaon/Saigon
Posts: 755
Thanked: 2,452 Times
Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

I guess toll plazas help in mitigating risks of dozing off. I once was driving to Jaipur from Gurgaon. having witnessed huge traffic jams right from gurgaon up to dharuhera, was a bit lethargic, but not sleepy so we kept on. My wife was sleeping next to me and she had asked me to wake her up the moment I feel even a bit sleepy. But, you don't realize when it happens. I was feeling a bit dizzy and may even have dozed off for a moment when I saw toll plaza ahead. A halt and a bit of crawl till the toll window, rolling down the window to pay and a sudden gush of hot summer wind woke up my wife. And as chirpy as she is, rest of the distance was managed without any incident.

Real bad traffic is one more thing which helps you to defy dizziness. My first drive alone was during diwali weekend 3 years back. I started right after my office, at 4PM to Bareilly (330KM door to door only). Right in front of my office onwards till dasna toll, traffic was choc-o-block. It took me 5 hours to reach there! After that, it was butter smooth, and 250 KM were covered in 4 hours. The sheer excitement of my first drive alone, and my first drive at night (and first one on the newly opened access restricted toll road embedded with reflectors on the median, and both sides of road) kept me awake and alert, till 1AM when I finally reached home.

I love driving, and as long as I am excited about the drive, I am awake. As soon as it start to feel a bit boring, take rest, stop frequently and keep washing your face. Drink a lot of water. Nature's call will force you to stop.

Last edited by Nav-i-gator : 21st December 2016 at 14:37.
Nav-i-gator is online now   (1) Thanks
Old 21st December 2016, 15:13   #49
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Delhi
Posts: 39
Thanked: 32 Times
Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Excellent thread GTO! This is actually a very serious issue and well highlighted in the thread. I would just like to share one incident, which is slightly different.

This happened last year when I was driving with family from Delhi to Ranthambore. I had ample sleep the previous night and we also started at a sane time (0800 hrs if I remember correctly).

We had a heavy lunch on the way and to top the same, I had a couple of glasses of shrikhand. Now I am not a person who sleeps in the afternoons, but those glasses really knocked me out. We almost hit the road median at one place and I had to stop and eat some chewing gum (that always works for me).

Since then, I always make it a point to have light meals when I have to drive in the afternoons. (Guess the government can put a ban on drinking shrikhand and driving )
shekatkar31 is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 21st December 2016, 15:16   #50
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 274
Thanked: 462 Times
Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Thanks, Very useful thread.

To each, his own! But the bottom-line is, ample rest, fresh body & mind are absolutely necessary before long drives.
1. Usually I sleep early a day before the drive, and start driving little early next day to avoid traffic.
2. I never set any target / deadline to reach. If I tend to get delayed, I call and inform the parties waiting at other end. Simple.
3. On a day-long drive I take a 30 minutes nap right after lunch. I park the car at a shaded and well ventilated place, play music at mild volume, set the alarm to ring after 30 minutes and sleep. I do the same during long days in office too (in nap room though ), hence I feel perfectly at home doing this on long drives.
4. I keep a red bull for every 4 hours of driving. Since I hardly ever consume Red Bull (or any other form of Caffeine), Red Bull charges me up well on occasional usage.
5. I never keep quite and drive. Either I sing/hum with the song playing on stereo, or I talk with my co passengers on light topics.
6. Finally, I go by my body clock and nature. I Sleep well, start early and drive with sun and be well within my limits. I find no fun boasting of driving xxxx kms in a day/20 hours straight etc.

If I still feel sleepy (hardly ever), I stop immediately and take a longish break.
Zinda is offline   (2) Thanks
Old 21st December 2016, 15:45   #51
coolmel's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 608
Thanked: 362 Times
Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Recently on my drive to Gujarat, on the return journey, I slept for just 4 hours in the night. Morning left Ahmedabad by 9 and hit the main road at 11. Inherently I knew it I wouldn't be able to drive as I was sleepy. Luckily had the driver along, so asked him to take the wheel while I dozed off until Surat came. Had lunch at 3. The lack of good dhabas on this side of the track was puzzling. While you go north there are so many! The Sugar and Spice ones all missing on this side. Plus most didn't accept card. Before me and the driver became our cranky best, a Honest plaza cropped up and immediately halted. Even they weren't taking cards. Luckily I had enough reserve cash and sailed through. The moment until you eat is where the hungry and cranky self makes the mind go notorious. I was mad at the driver for driving with one hand on steering and other on gear, why the heck was he driving fast, not honking when needed or in a similar pattern etc. All until we ordered the food and it was gone. Reminded me of the Snickers ad. Now I just had a Rava Masala Dosa as I prefer to eat light during my drives, but didn't know the chef made it in butter. Had a chai post that. Moment I took the wheel as I had had 4-5 hours of sleep. A few minutes into the drive and I realised the butter kicked in making my eyelids heavy. I battled them for 2 hours until a point at sunset I realised I couldn't drive any further. Stopped for fuel and told driver to take the wheel all the way back. Dozed off again. And whizzed through most toll nakas saying we don't have cash, take card. Many did the same! 😆 Reached Mumbai at 10:15 pm.

In short moral of the story...cover your sleep really, really well. Goes a long way in having a great drive and helps you savour the same.
coolmel is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 21st December 2016, 15:50   #52
Divya Sharan's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Bangalore, BKSC
Posts: 495
Thanked: 1,573 Times
Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

If a loooooong pre-planned drive approaches, I:
1. Sleep 7+ hours at least for a week (not just the previous night)
2. Collect fast paced songs in my pen drive
3. Make sure the car is tip top at least 2 days prior to the drive (even the tire pressures - nothing left for the 11th hour)
4. Keep my plans flexible (if the need be)
5. Try to find more sleep!

Last edited by Divya Sharan : 21st December 2016 at 16:12.
Divya Sharan is offline   (3) Thanks
Old 21st December 2016, 17:12   #53
Senior - BHPian
silverado's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Mumbai-Pune
Posts: 1,712
Thanked: 2,078 Times
Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Palm beach road ( Navi Mumbai ) is a one dangerous road to drive if you are sleep deprived.

I used to travel to Belapur from Dadar using office cab.

Many a times in early morning shift, drivers used to do steady 80-90, but then speed drops below 60 and could see car slowly going in to side lane.
A quick glance on rear view mirror would prove that driver was getting drowsy and could see eye closing in drowsiness.

Would request those guys to splash water and resume driving.

The junction which comes at the end of palm beach road (going towards Belapur ) used to scare the hell out of me every time we crossed it early morning.

Way back in 2007-2009 there were no signals/speed breakers before that junction, and I used to ensure I have a small talk with driver as we were approaching that junction.

And I have to admit here, that I have driven in drowsy state a few times.
But over the time, I have been able to convince myself to avoid doing it.

This is the thread which should spring in your mind, whenever you are drowsy,tired and have a long way to go.

Last edited by silverado : 21st December 2016 at 17:30.
silverado is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 21st December 2016, 19:18   #54
aaychat's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Pune
Posts: 61
Thanked: 255 Times
Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Supremely important post. Safety is the most important and most ignored factor for Indian roads today. We have the worst record in the whole wide world. I would trade a safe car over a few extra BHP's any day.

The car manufacturers don't do enough because their research says that consumers don't care enough. Few people have safety ratings in their consideration set while making a purchase. While the numbers might be higher on this forum, it is a tiny fraction of the larger auto market.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Maintain a steady pace at a speed that you & your car are comfortable with. You’ll find that constantly varying speeds make the drive stressful. A steady, consistently manageable pace helps in effortlessly munching those miles. All expert drivers do this; it's second nature to them.
After going through the entire post, this is the only point I disagree with. On the highway, I find myself spacing out if i'm at a constant speed for a long time. Variable speed keeps me more alert about other vehicles around me. Could be just me though.

I thank you for this post and hope others write more about safety related issues that plague us.

Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads-bro-sleep-weep.jpg

Listen to what the BRO (Border Roads Organization) guys. They know what they are talking about.
aaychat is offline   (9) Thanks
Old 21st December 2016, 19:46   #55
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Chennai
Posts: 437
Thanked: 641 Times
Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

I have an incident to narrate here.
This was when I was driving back to Detroit from Pittsburgh after just 3 hrs of sleep the previous night. The freeway was utterly empty. I was driving with my wife sitting next to me fast asleep. My kids aged 5 years and 2 years were sitting at the back in their car seats and also fast asleep. I had engaged the cruise control and was feeling very drowsy but the fool that I was decided to continue on. At some point, I had fallen asleep with car at a constant 70 mph on cruise control - never realized it. Drifted from the fast lane to the outer most lane. A curve was approaching and the car was still going very straight. At the nick of time, just before the car hit the railings, somehow my elder son (all of 5 years old then) had woken up and seeing the situation shouted "Appa" and that woke me up. Managed to avoid hitting the railings and was lucky that there were no other vehicles on the freeway.
From then on, never drove long distances unless I had proper rest. Lesson learned.
chennai-indian is offline   (4) Thanks
Old 21st December 2016, 19:54   #56
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Panipat
Posts: 177
Thanked: 200 Times
Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Thanks very much GTO for this. I still remember your tips for driving during rainy season/ time. Any thread on safety is my hot favourite. Indeed valuable and quite insightful compilation.

Well I try to start my journey early, it saves time and fuel. Its also time when chances of micro-sleep are more if one has not taken adequate sleep may due to sort of intoxicating and cool breeze. For me safety gets precedent over everything and keep observing myself as a driver just to apply corrections. I practice the concept of defensive driving which is quite a useful tool for road safety. A car with good braking and acceleration is good IMO because when car is devoid of this I have seen drivers reluctant to kill momentum and take chance in overtaking thus creating potential for head on crash. So I tend not to hurry during overtaking. Quite often we don't stick to basics and create avoidable damages. I also avoid night driving and does only in rare cases.

Another thing I do is read 'road accident in India thread' periodically to drive home the point 'that safety is paramount'.

Last edited by Sip : 21st December 2016 at 20:00.
Sip is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 21st December 2016, 19:56   #57
Distinguished - BHPian
SS-Traveller's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 8,171
Thanked: 27,198 Times

Thanks for a very well-researched article.

There are certain distinct differences between
  • fatigue/tiredness,
  • drowsiness, and
  • microsleep
which need to be identified. For example, fatigue/tiredness may well be associated with being wide awake (so a tired person is not necessarily at risk while driving), whereas extreme boredom can cause microsleep in even a well-rested person.

It is important to identify the signs of drowsiness / sleepiness / onset of microsleep, and the list below is important to identify this:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Symptoms from the Sleep Foundation:
  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking or heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming; wandering / disconnected thoughts
  • Trouble remembering the last few km driven; missing exits or traffic signs
  • Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
  • Feeling restless and irritable
To this I may add:
  • Fidgeting in your seat
  • Rolling down window
  • Changing AC settings frequently
  • Changing channels / sound volume frequently
  • Driving faster / slower than usual
  • Lights hurt your eyes
From the highways in Australia, here are a couple of photos:
Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads-microsleep.jpg

Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads-rd14.jpg

However, current concept in low-risk driving says powernaps are not advised, because of the sleep inertia that follows it, which is risky as well.

I learnt about a workaround to avoid sleep inertia after a powernap - a strong cup of coffee just before starting a 15-20-minute powernap (after setting an alarm). By the time one wakes up from the powernap, the caffiene has had a chance to work on the body, and sleep inertia does not affect one's driving alertness.

A stop after every 2 hours and a brisk 5-minute run or jog (even while remaining stationary) whether one thinks one needs it or not, will prevent sleepy driving.

Commercial drivers do not understand when they are sleepy - they are not trained to detect and overcome sleepiness. And they are the biggest causes of sleep-related crashes on Indian roads.

Originally Posted by earthian View Post
Sleep Apnea
A very big, often undiagnosed, and at best ignored problem, especially in India. Obesity and sleep apnea frequently coexist. The observer will often detect the person to have dozed off in the middle of a conversation. Dentists trained in sleep medicine can detect prevailing sleep apnea in patients undergoing routine dental treatment.

A colleague with definite symptoms of sleep apnea refused to take things seriously when I discussed his problem with him, including the perils of driving in his condition - until, one fine day on his way from Chandigarh to Delhi, he and his wife both dozed off. Mercifully, the car scraped the raised median verge but did not run off the road. His children were in the back seat, without child seats and without seat belts.

The next day, I got a grudging thanks, but he finally did go for full investigations, leading to his regular use of a C-PAP machine.

Last edited by GTO : 22nd December 2016 at 10:30. Reason: Merging back to back posts
SS-Traveller is offline   (11) Thanks
Old 22nd December 2016, 03:20   #58
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: BLR, CCU
Posts: 35
Thanked: 113 Times
Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

This happened during the winter of 2014. Came to Delhi on a heavily fogged morning and was planning to go to Agra the next morning. Purpose was purely tourism. Booked a private cab, the ones with white board and CNG retro-fitted. The driver Pankaj Modi was very reasonable with the pricing and promised that he'll land in front of our guest house at 8 am sharp.

As with the fog and cold, Modiji seemed to have had a late night and turned up at 11 am. We started in the midst of dense fog with me and my wife at the back seat and my brother giving company to the driver at the front. As we hit Yamuna expressway and no sooner we reached the Buddh Circuit, my brother started snoring and Modiji was also looking very tempted. Then suddenly he rolled down the windows of his esteem in that severe cold as a way to get rid of his sleep.

Made him stop immediately. Offered him a smoke and the cola we were carrying and then gave him the proposition to sleep while I took over. He gleefully accepted and I drove the whole of Yamuna expressway to my utmost joy.

This was 2 days prior to that enormous 20 odd car pile up on the expressway. I still thank myself that I had the courage to ask the driver to step down and in a way might've avoided another pile up of the same nature!
dgogold is offline   (4) Thanks
Old 22nd December 2016, 07:42   #59
Senior - BHPian
rrsteer's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: 144022
Posts: 1,240
Thanked: 3,160 Times
Re: Sleep Apnea: The silent killer on Indian roads

Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post

The next day, I got a grudging thanks, but he finally did go for full investigations,e.

Which investigation has to be done and whom should (which doctor) I contact for it? This would be for my mother.
rrsteer is offline  
Old 22nd December 2016, 08:05   #60
Distinguished - BHPian
SS-Traveller's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 8,171
Thanked: 27,198 Times
Re: Sleep Apnea: The silent killer on Indian roads

Originally Posted by rrsteer View Post

Which investigation has to be done and whom should (which doctor) I contact for it? This would be for my mother.
Most private hospitals run sleep medicine labs. An overnight stay in such a lab with monitors attached reveals how acute the sleep apnea problem is. Your physician should also be able to guide you.
SS-Traveller is offline   (2) Thanks

Most Viewed
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Copyright ©2000 - 2024,
Proudly powered by E2E Networks