It’s no secret that truck drivers are usually at high risk for suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. If you are a commercial trucker, run a trucking company, or have any job that requires you to maintain a CDL in good standing, sleep apnea is definitely a condition you will want to be aware of.
When it comes to testing for and treating sleep apnea, there can be a lot of unknowns that scare you into holding off on testing or trying to circumvent a sleep test to secure a real diagnosis, but the real frightening aspect is waiting too long and suffering from the side effects of untreated sleep apnea like chronic fatigue, excessive daytime sleepiness, and brain fog—not to mention heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.
Here are three things you need to know about sleep apnea, testing, and treatment:
Sleep Apnea is a Sleep Disorder that Can Impact Your Health
Sleep apnea is a condition that prevents you from getting the proper air you need to remain in a deep sleep. An average adult experiences about 3-5 apnea events per hour, but anything over 5 an hour is cause for alarm. While the mechanics of sleep apnea are fairly straightforward, many people don’t understand the frightening side effects and future medical conditions that sleep apnea can put you at risk for.
Because sleep apnea prevents you from getting restorative, healthy sleep on a nightly basis, it can cause excessive fatigue that influences your ability to drive safely. Because of the incredible risks of untreated sleep apnea, it is imperative that you undergo a home sleep test to see if your diagnosis requires treatment.
You Can Test Yourself for Sleep Apnea at Home or On the Road
If your examiner or trucking company mandates sleep apnea testing, you have a couple options.
- You could undergo an in-lab sleep study at a sleep clinic or hospital.
- You could take an at-home sleep test with companies like ApneaMed.
While in-lab tests are helpful for those who may suffer from more complex sleep disorders like insomnia, restless leg syndrome, or narcolepsy, sleep apnea is much more easily diagnosed and managed.
At-home sleep tests are fairly simple. You sign up with a home sleep testing provider who then sends you a sleep testing kit complete with instructions on how to use it properly. You wear the device for one full night of sleep, and then send it back to your provider for analysis.
ApneaMed providers our clients with access to reliable, comfortable at-home sleep testing and makes this process extremely simple. First, fill out our patient questionnaire to see if you are a good candidate for sleep testing. We will send you a unit with clear instructions for one full night of data, which you will then send back for analysis. Your results are then read by a board-certified sleep physician who can give you a clear diagnosis.
It’s also a distinct possibility that your company currently has a partnership with ApneaMed. If this is the case, you can speak with your medical examiner and/or trucking safety managers to see if you can take a unit home and undergo sleep testing as soon as possible. This will get you results and a diagnosis much faster than traditional sleep testing.
You have many options available to get the answers you need. So be sure to speak with your company about ApneaMed partnerships or in-home testing as soon as possible.
A Sleep Apnea Diagnosis Does Not Disqualify You From a CDL
Just because you suffer from sleep apnea does not mean you will lose your CDL so long as you seek appropriate treatment for your sleep apnea based on severity and best treatment options. However, if you are diagnosed and refuse treatment, then you can be denied a CDL by either a medical examiner or your employer.
However, sleep apnea is an easily treatable condition and many truck and other CDL drivers are able to perform their jobs perfectly regardless of the severity of their sleep apnea. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea and your medical examiner reports that you are managing your condition, then you can regain your current CDL status.
Sleep apnea has many potential treatments depending on your specific case. Some opt for dental appliances or surgery, but the most common and effective sleep apnea treatment is the nightly use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or an automatic positive airway pressure (AutoPAP) machine. Simply wear the mask while you sleep to prevent airway obstruction and start getting deep, restorative sleep so you can be alert and aware on the roads.
A sleep apnea diagnosis does not have to be a frightening event surrounded by uncertainty, and it certainly should not delay your decision to have yourself tested if you believe you may be at risk for even mild sleep apnea. While the long-term health risks should be a good enough reason to seek treatment sooner, your job as a professional truck driver means you need to be responsible, alert, and well-rested when you’re on the roads for the safety of yourself and others.
If you have questions about whether or not you should undergo sleep apnea testing, you can contact ApneaMed with any questions.