Many older adults report sleep problems and use of hypnotics. Several studies have shown that hypnotics can have acute adverse effects on driving the next morning. It is unclear however whether driving of chronic hypnotic users is impaired. Therapeutic effects on insomnia and development of tolerance may reduce the residual effects on driving.
The present study aimed to compare actual driving performance and driving-related skills of chronic hypnotic users to good sleepers. To determine whether insomnia itself affects driving performance, driving and driving-related skills were compared between insomnia patients who do not or infrequently use hypnotics and good sleepers.
Twenty-two frequent users of hypnotics (using hypnotics a parts per thousand yen4 nights per week for more than 3 months), 20 infrequent users (using hypnotics a parts per thousand currency sign3 nights per week), and 21 healthy, age-matched controls participated in this study. On the night before testing, all subjects were hospitalized for an 8-h sleep recorded by polysomnography. Frequent hypnotic users used their regular medication at bedtime (2330 hours), while infrequent users and controls received no medication. Cognitive performance (word learning, digit span, tracking, divided attention, vigilance, and inhibitory control) was assessed 8.5 h and driving performance between 10 and 11 h after bedtime and dosing.
Polysomnographic recordings did not significantly differ between the groups, but the insomnia patients, treated or untreated, still reported subjective sleep complaints. Results show no differences in driving performance and driving-related skills between both groups of insomnia patients and controls.
Driving performance in chronic users of hypnotics and untreated insomnia patients is not impaired. For chronic users, this may be due to prescription of relatively safe drugs and low doses. For untreated insomniacs, this corroborates previous findings showing an absence of neuropsychological deficits in this group of patients.
- BENZODIAZEPINE USE
- ELDERLY DRIVERS
- On-the-road driving
- PSYCHOMOTOR PERFORMANCE
- TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS