Hidden Dangers of Sleep Apnea- Is Your Pilot Falling Asleep?

Book your next appointment
You wouldn’t get in the car with a tired, fatigued driver would you? Yet everyday, thousands upon thousands of airline passengers board planes, without giving a second thought to the condition of the pilot.

Make no mistake about it; sleep apnea is a risk for pilots just like it is for everyone else, and has been linked to several accidents over the years. In fact, you can take a look at this video below to see how a lack of sleep can lead to tragedy not just 30,000 feet in the air, but in several other scenarios as well:

A Scary Story

sleep-apnea-300x300In 2008, a commercial aircraft carrying 40 passengers flew past its intended destination, because both the captain and first officer fell asleep at the controls. Fortunately, the pilot awoke, turned the plane around and landed it safely.

While this story had a safe and happy ending, it could have led to disaster. The National Transportation Safety Board determined a major contributing factor was the captain’s undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea.

You can read the full story here: https://www.cnn.com/2009/US/08/03/sleepy.pilots.apnea/index.html?iref=nextin

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Apnea is a medical term that means “being without respiration.” In other words, individuals who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea literally stop breathing for periods of time while they sleep.

This results in interrupted sleep, which in turn leads to individuals not being able to perform normal tasks as well due to sleep deprivation.

Snoring is a possible sign of sleep apnea (although just because you snore doesn’t necessarily mean you have sleep apnea), with obesity, heart disease, and stroke being other contributing factors.

To put it simply, the more overweight and unhealthy a person is, the higher likelihood they will develop obstructive sleep apnea at some point during their lives.

What are Common Signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Do you think that you or someone you know may be suffering from sleep apnea? It’s your job to seek treatment (it could save lives). Here are a few common signs and symptoms associated with sleep apnea:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Falling asleep during the day
  • Needing to take frequent naps
  • Headaches
  • Mood swing and irritability
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Short attention span

These symptoms are not just a result of “being tired.” If you or someone you know are experiencing any of these symptoms on a frequent basis, it’s time to get evaluated for sleep apnea with an at-home test.

Sleep Apnea = Too Much Alcohol Consumption?

It’s been suggested that individuals with mild to moderate sleep apnea may operate at the same level as a person with a .06 to .08 blood alcohol level, the legal limit in many states.

This means that pilots and crew members who are flying with undiagnosed sleep apnea are responsible for hundreds, if not thousands of lives on a daily basis, while operating at the cognitive equivalent of “drunk.”

As you can imagine, this has pressured the FAA to amend it’s guidelines to better test and manage pilots, crew members, and their schedules to avoid sleepy pilot syndrome.

What is the FAA Doing to Protect Passengers and Pilots?

sleep-apnea-300x3002Untreated sleep apnea is a generally disqualifying medical condition requiring a special issuance medical certificate. In the past, BMI (body mass index) was used to screen pilots for obstructive sleep apnea, since being overweight is highly correlated with obstructive sleep apnea.

However, the FAA has now rewritten it’s testing procedures in order to more accurately diagnose pilots suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, and prevent them from operating aircraft until they seek treatment and get their condition under control.

Currently, Aviation Medical Examiners (AME’s) use a combination of medical history, symptoms, and and physical/clinical findings. Obstructive sleep apnea exams are conducted during a physical examination, using the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) guidelines.

The bottom line is the FAA is taking action to eliminate pilots with sleep apnea from flying commercial aircraft. If a pilot is found to be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, they must seek treatment or potentially risk losing their license.

What now?

Whether you are a pilot, crew member, or just an average person reading this article, obstructive sleep apnea is a real medical concern with serious consequences.

At Babylon Dental Care, we are dedicated to helping patients in New York diagnose and treat their sleep apnea. For more information on our take home sleep apnea tests you can visit this page.

To schedule your obstructive sleep apnea evaluation, give us a call today or contact us here



Share This Article :

Related Posts

Vaping and Oral Health

February 1, 2024

Teeth Whitening Longevity

January 1, 2024

Leave A Reply



“Amazing experience getting my teeth cleaned at Babylon Dental Care. Melody is fantastic and provided a top-notch painless service. Highly recommend.”

Ron S


“Absolutely incredible team. From the very moment you walk in you're greeted with kindness and people who want to help you. When I was asked how everything was I literally told them I was speechless. Having had terrible experiences as a kid with dentistry I wasn't sure if the nice things I've heard and read would live up to my expectation. I'm so glad they met them, and even went above and beyond what I had imagined. They offered me several options (a comfort menu) for things I could ask for to help make the time go by easier and with less anxiety.. all for free! If you have been holding off due to how long it's been and how anxious you might be then take this as your sign to look into coming here. I really truly am so glad I overcame my fear and made my appointment, they are just *that* good”

Brian K


“Really love this office, they are so kind and non judge mental, I have dealt with so many judge mental dental offices and I have felt totally at ease here. Truly grateful to find them. Dr David is so gentle and for the first time ever I don’t have an anxiety attack coming in to the dentist. The ladies in the front are a pleasure as well, Beth is a breathe of fresh air.”

Angela P


“I had my teeth cleaned by Melody and she did an incredible job. She is gentle, and caring. My teeth look and feel amazing! I normally hate going to the dentist but now look forward to my cleanings with Melody and this location! Everyone is this office is so kind and sweet from the moment you walk in.”

Gillian W


“This was my first time at this Dental office. I went in for a cleaning and dental exam. The office is Clean and modern. I felt comfortable and welcomed right from the start. My hygienist 'Melody' was great! I feel that she was very thorough, talked me through everything she was doing and made recommendations for improving my routine at home. My dental exam with Dr. Diamond was just as pleasant. I liked that she also took her time and I didn't feel rushed. All-in-all it was a good experience. The entire team at the clinic displayed a high level of professionalism and made me feel comfortable throughout my visit.”

Brenda S


“Love this office and all staff! From the front desk, to the hygienist, the dentists and the lovely ladies that check you out, it’s a top notch experience. I trust them 100%!”

Marian P


“Dr. David and the entire staff at Babylon Dental Care are amazing! Every single person who works there is so kind compassionate. I’m a very nervous patient and Dr. David and his assistant Amber made me feel so at ease. I highly recommend Babylon Dental Care especially if you’re an anxious patient!”

Elisabeth D


“From the moment I walked in it was a great experience. The facility is modern and clean. I was treated extremely well. And I really don't like going to the dentist but I'm actually looking forward to my next visit. Everyone I met was great! Thank you for making me feel comfortable.”

Tom M


“Everyone in the Patchogue office are wonderful! Kind, caring, and attentive. I have always hated dentists but I am never anxious to come there. I can honestly say I have NEVER felt this at ease. Thank you all for making this a wonderful experience for me. I won’t ever hesitate to go to the dentist again!”

Susan G


“First visit and everyone was so nice and made the transition to a new dentist seamless! Corinn did a great cleaning and explained everything as she was doing it!”

Kayleigh P


“I would highly recommend Babylon Dental Care. The Drs and Staff are all very friendly and professional. They take the extra time to explain the procedures which are truly done gently and with care. I saw Dr. Knakal and Dr. Diamond. The lobby is comfortable and the dental work areas are immaculate. Also, I have never had to wait very long before being seen!”

Regina B


“First time here, never felt so comfortable at the dentist. Super clean and friendly staff. Corrin and Dr. Brown are absolutely wonderful! Very thorough and knowledgeable.”

Cara P


“This is quite possibly the most impressive Dental office I’ve ever seen. All the staff goes above and beyond to make you feel welcome. The office is so gorgeous through out. I loved my hygienist, she was very knowledgeable and very thorough and informative about being proactive with your hygiene habits. Dr Hsu was amazing. I highly recommend him. Very professional and explains everything he’s doing and that you’re comfortable during the visit. I’m really glad I found this office and my new Dentist.”

Angel W


“I have been using Babylon Dental Care for almost 10 years. Dr. Brown, Jen, Melody and Michelle are incredible. They are always concerned with the patients well being and health making it a different experience. They treat you like family, not a patient. I use them for dentistry and their silent night therapy. Thank you for taking care of my family. Great job team!”

Chuck M


“I've been coming here for about a year and a half. I have always had Francesca and she's great. She's always professional, friendly and honest with me. They have a pretty good system with the walkie-talkies too which makes the process more or less pretty smooth. I also really appreciate that they are transparent up front with cost, not many places are like that in my experiences.”

Scott A


“Professional and courteous staff, every time I come here I’m more than satisfied. Dr Wrann & Dr Knakal are exceptionally good. I would highly recommend Babylon Dental!”

Nick S


“Very professional staff and the hygienist Melody is amazing. The dentist are very thorough and they explained every little bit of details of your procedure. They make you feel so relaxed and welcoming. I would recommend Babylon Dental Care to anyone.”

Verona B


“I recently moved approximately 300 miles away, I continue to make the trip back to Babylon Dental Care. My hygienist Paige could not be kinder, friendlier or professional. I have been having issues with bone loss in my jaws and now it's time for implants. Dr. Knakal has been outstanding. I know I am in the best hands. Everyone I have dealt with at BDC from the receptionists to the checkout personnel are awesome! I will be continuing to make the trip for all my dental care.”

Pete R


“Babylon Dental Care is an amazing practice! I had an issue with my teeth and they took me immediately. Their friendly and compassionate staff walked me through each step and in a matter of a week I had that tooth extracted and my flipper ready for every day use! You can’t even tell I have it in! The office is spotless and they even have Netflix! How cool is that! You’re welcomed as soon as you walk in and they made me feel so comfortable. Dr. Golo and Dr. Knakal took such good care of me and I would recommend them to anyone! The office is so convenient and literally across the street from my home so it doesn’t get better than that! Thank you Babylon Dental!”

Joseph S


“I've never had such an amazing experience at a dentist. They are so kind, so caring, so friendly, and really make you feel appreciated and not just like a patient number. I am blown away by the care I received here, and will be recommending them to everyone I know!”

Jessica C


“I cannot adequately express my appreciation for this practice. Best dental practice ever! Everyone is so kind, caring and respectful. I don't dread going to the dentist anymore. I've had a lot of work done and am extremely pleased. They are very gentle and strive to keep you pain free. Very professional from reception on up. I highly recommend Babylon Dental. Would give them 10 stars if I could!”

Debra B


“Had the zoom whitening treatment and all I can say is wow!!”

Beth L


“At Babylon Dental Care, “care” is given from arrival to check out. I was anxious; it had been a few years since my last filling. From the moment I walked into the exam room, Karen comforted me. She explained the process, answered my questions and talked with me to keep me calm. Dr. Wrann was excellent! I did not have any pain before, during or after the procedure. So happy! Thank you to a truly great team!”

Kristina F


“I went there during covid as my dentist was shut down by the pandemic. They really do everything they can to make you feel good about your experience. Melanie who cleans my teeth as well is wonderful and does a great job everything by the time I leave I don't want to go. Excellent place for dental work. They go above and beyond.”

Connor L