'I fell asleep while driving' 

Terry Gasking was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea after a couple of terrifying incidents where he fell asleep at the wheel. He tells us how he got through it.

"I was driving along the A418 when I suddenly woke up and found myself going down the wrong side of the road.

"I must have fallen asleep at the wheel, even though I didn't feel particularly tired. Thankfully, nothing was coming the other way or I wouldn't be here today.

"The second time was particularly frightening. I was driving past a village school and remember being fully alert, watching the children to make sure they didn't step into the road.

"The next moment, I was gone – I'd fallen asleep, completely unaware. I woke up 50 yards away, about four feet from a brick wall. I could have killed a child.

"The worst thing about snoring and sleep apnoea is that you have no idea that it's happening to you. You think you're sleeping for hours, but you're not – you're only sleeping for very short spells.

"In my case, I was diagnosed as a moderate sufferer. I stopped breathing 28 times an hour. This means my average sleep period was just two minutes.

"When you think sleep deprivation is a form of torture, you realise that people with sleep apnoea go through torture every night because they're not getting enough sleep.

"I tried every simple 'remedy' I could lay my hands on – nose clips, things to put up your nose. Nothing worked. Then I tried CPAP [continuous positive airway pressure].

"The sleep deprivation that I'd suffered for 30 years went overnight. Suddenly, I was given the energy I had 20 years ago."

Page last reviewed: 14/07/2016

Next review due: 14/07/2019