Sleep apnea is a medical condition where the affected individual stops breathing involuntarily while they sleep. There are multiple types and a wide range of factors can increase a person’s risk of developing the sleep disorder. According to a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the American Transportation Research Institute, it is estimated that 1 out of every 3 truck drivers is at least mildly affected by sleep apnea.
What is It?
Sleep Apnea causes a person to stop breathing periodically throughout the night. In the most severe of instances, an individual can stop breathing once every minute. There is some good news! After a person receives an official diagnosis from a sleep specialist, the condition is treatable. The most common way of treating sleep apnea is with an CPAP machine. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. This machine provides pressurized air through a face mask in order to keep the airway clear while the person’s body relaxes during their sleep cycle.
Certain factors can increase a person’s risk of developing sleep apnea. Although anyone can be affected, men are most commonly impacted. Some other factors include smoking, having a recessed chin or narrow airway, family history of the disorder, and obesity. Truck drivers oftentimes live a sedentary lifestyle which results in higher obesity rates among the workers in the occupation. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly will lower one’s risk of developing certain medical conditions down the road. Click HERE to check out our post about the importance of prioritizing health as a truck driver.
One of the most serious symptoms is daytime fatigue. Driving fatigued is a common cause for truck-related accidents. Truckers need to be alert and mindful when they are operating big rigs. An accident has the potential to be catastrophic. Never drive a truck if you are tired or if you find yourself nodding off. PULL OVER! Don’t ever put your life or the lives of others on the road at risk.
The high number of drivers suffering from sleep apnea has inspired some companies to ask their drivers to get tested. A few companies work with their employees to cover the cost of the tests, but many require the worker to pocket the bill.
There has been some controversy in the trucking community on this topic. Some drivers have come forward and stated that requiring testing violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and that they believe the procedure is intrusive. Others understand the risk that the disorder poses if left untreated and support companies asking drivers to get tested.
Most drivers who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea are able to return to their jobs confidently once obtaining some form of treatment. Just be sure to stay up to date on all driver test policies and be aware of your own body. If you think that you may have sleep apnea, consider meeting with a medical professional.
Click HERE to read a general article that explains what sleep apnea is, the three main types, and the factors that can raise a person’s risk. Remember to always seek medical advice from medical professionals.
Tell us what you think! Do you believe that required sleep apnea testing is too intrusive? How could this risk be mediated?
Thanks for reading!
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