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

Leave A Reply



“I have never been to a dentist office that is sooo welcoming. I am not a fan of going to the dentist at all but when my sister recommended to try them, my thoughts about the dentist completely changed. This dentist office is very professional and do really care about the patient. I was amazed at the follow up phone call, email, and text! I highly recommend this dentist office to anyone and everyone.”

Jill S. from West Babylon


“Babylon Dental is the best! They are very flexible with their appointments and I am always greeted with a smile. I never have to wait very long once I am in the office and everyone is very professional. A truly great dental practice!”

Lesley E. from West Babylon


“This whole practice is wonderful!!! EVERYONE!! I used to panic going to the dentist, but this office made me finally do the right thing and take care of my teeth. Never thought I’d like going to the dentist… Thanks to all of the dentists and everyone who works there…”

Diane W. from West Islip


“I guess I could write this about every visit we’ve had for the past 25 years or so. Every visit we have, we’re treated like family…the good ones. Our options are always explained so we understand them & nothing is ever pushed on us. Thank you to everyone there.”

Robert U. from Lindenhurst


“I always LOVE my experience at Babylon Dental! Everybody is so kind, from the receptionist at the front to the billing staff on the way out. The dentists are thorough, friendly, and very attentive. The dental assistants are so knowledgeable and warm! This is the ONLY dentist I would ever consider going to. Keep up the great work! I look forward to seeing you all again!”

Erin M. from West Babylon


“This is the kindest, most compassionate office I have ever been to. Every person on staff is polite and courteous; not something you see too often these days. I ‘hated’ going to the dentist so much that I would only go when I had a problem. Since I started using Babylon Dental about 8 years ago, I go 2 to 3 times a year for a cleaning and just to make sure everything’s ok. I recommend this practice to everyone I know!”

Nancie P. from West Babylon


“Everything went very well. The procedure was almost painless, and since it was my first cavity filling, I was surprised at how easy it was. Everyone was very nice and willing to answer any questions I had.”

Andrew L. from West Islip


“The staff at Babylon Dental Care are by far the most professional people I’ve encountered. I was greeted with a smile from the minute I walked in and that continued throughout my entire visit. The office from the waiting room to the exam room were immaculate. Everything that was done during my visit was explained to me in detail which helps for someone with a fear of the dentist. The best experience I’ve ever had at a dental office.””

Nickesha J. from Lindenhurst


“If you have a fear of the dentist, Babylon Dental Care is the place for you. I always have an amazing experience when I visit Babylon Dental Care and I used to be someone who was very afraid of the dentist. I highly recommend this dental practice for all of your dental needs. Fantastic group!”

Robert P. from Freeport


“Who knew! I have always been afraid of the dentist because of a bad experience 25 years ago. This office renewed my comfort, and gave me the confidence to move forward and take care of dental work that should have been done years ago. The staff doctors and office personnel were so caring and receptive to my fear.”

Loretta P. from Bay Shore


“I have been a patient of Babylon Dental since Dr. Brown’s Office was originally in TSS shopping Center- perhaps 26 years now? I am always pleased with the high quality, professional care that I receive. I would not go anywhere else! Also, Maritza is a wonderful dental hygienist!”

Peter G. from Bating Hollow


“As a new patient, I was impressed by each staff member’s level of professionalism, friendliness, and knowledge. Dr. Brown gave me a thorough explanation of what was causing my dental issues, and how they could be fixed. I left feeling confident that I was in really good hands.”

Alexandra H. from Lindenhurst


“As always, Dr. Brown made my experience most memorable! I look forward to coming, believe it or not.”

Marie D. from Babylon


“First the reception area was beautifully decorated. Your office runs very smoothly and efficiently, plus the staff are professional, friendly and great at what they do. Best run office I’ve ever seen.”

Michael C. from North Babylon


“Amazing. I am deathly afraid, and have been hurt by many dentists. But Melody, who did my x-rays and cleaning, was great. I was amazed how much they actually CARED about how I felt and was doing. Dr. Brown who read my x-rays sat and just talked To me not at me for a good 15/20 minutes. Didn't suggest root canals, posts n crowns, yell at me about my missing back teeth. He just talked to me about what is currently going on and his best suggestions to care for it, which didn't include root canals, extraction etc. Therefore I would highly recommend them. And thank you for a really positive experience”

Pat M from Patchogue


“From the call center ( Jo ) to the front desk ( Jennifer) and of course Dr. Peck , highly recommended. They are professional and truly concerned about the patient's experience”

Boni M from Babylon


“I am not one to write reviews but I always have such a pleasant experience at this office, so I felt the need to share. The staff is friendly, the wait is short, it's easy to get appointments (especially because of their long hours) and it's super clean. Thank you, Babylon Dental Care!”

Jacqueline C from Sayville


“Everyone is always nice and sooooo patient. I would highly recommend this office to anyone that has a fear of going to the dentist. They also do wonderful community outreach! Very happy with the work they do!”

Andrea B from West Babylon


“The staff is so wonderful! Best experience I’ve ever had a dentist office by far. They offer the cutest “comfort bar” with tons of options to make you feel right at home. Not many people can say that they actually enjoyed their time at the dentist, but I 100% can!! Looking forward to coming back for my next cleaning!”

Rachael L from Patchogue