Most Americans have experienced sleepiness during the work day - needing that extra cup of coffee to hurdle the foggy, unfocused feeling caused by lack of sleep. It is common knowledge that daytime sleepiness can significantly impact productivity, but employers also need to be aware that it could actually point to a very serious health condition.

Sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep, causing low blood oxygen levels, affects one in five Americans or up to 18 million people in the U.S. Physicians cannot detect symptoms during routine office visits, and no blood test exists, so the condition often goes undiagnosed. Not only can work performance decrease by 30% percent if it goes untreated, but employees affected by sleep apnea are twice as likely to have a workplace accident.

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