Driving for hours on end can be tiring. But if a truck driver is also suffering from sleep apnea, they risk being more tired than normal — dangerously so. If obstructive sleep apnea goes untreated, the truck driver may not be getting the quality of sleep they need to operate at peak efficiency throughout the day. They’re often left lethargic and fatigued, which can significantly increase their chances of getting into an accident.
Because of the trucking lifestyle, truck drivers have a much higher risk of being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. Because of this, it’s important that truck drivers take measures into their own hands and proactively try to lessen the chance of sleep apnea. Follow along as ApneaMed walks you through how obstructive sleep apnea affects truckers and how truck drivers can effectively treat their sleep apnea while on the road.
1. Get 8 Hours of Sleep
Obstructive sleep apnea causes an individual to experience many breathing disruptions through the night that occur when the soft tissues in their throat collapse. As a result, their airway becomes blocked and they gasp or choke to unblock the airway. To help combat the fatigue that these breathing disruptions can cause, a truck driver must get an adequate amount of sleep each night.
Although sleeping conditions may be less than ideal, truck drivers should do what they can to get a minimum of eight hours of sleep. To promote restful sleep, they can try using blackout curtains to make their cabins dark, limit the use of electronics before bed, and get some physical activity to tire out their mind and body.
2. Improve Their Diet
It’s difficult to find well-balanced and nutritious meals while out on the road, which is why many truck drivers turn to fast food regularly. These unhealthy meals are often packed full of processed carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and added sugars that can wreak havoc on their health.
Over time, eating these foods repeatedly will lead them to become overweight — which makes the likelihood of breathing disruptions more frequent. The added weight on their neck will make the airway blockages happen more often, decreasing their quality of sleep. Opting for nutrient-dense meals will help the truck driver maintain a healthy weight.
3. Increase Physical Activity
Sitting behind the wheel of a truck for hours on end can make it difficult to get outside and get the physical exercise that their body needs. This lack of physical activity paired with poor eating habits increases the odds of the trucker being diagnosed with sleep apnea. Starting small by heading outside for a morning or evening walk can make a tremendous difference with beginning a healthier lifestyle.
4. Limit Alcohol Intake
After a long day on the road, a truck driver may sit down for a few beers to unwind. Shortly after, they may head back to their truck cabin to pass out for the night. While the alcohol may help them fall asleep more quickly, it may prevent them from achieving deep sleep. When drinking alcohol, you’re more likely to be woken up mid-sleep cycle as the alcohol metabolizes in your body and prevents you from reaching REM sleep.
5. Reduce Caffeine Consumption
Caffeine consumption is a never-ending cycle of poor sleep for a truck driver. Long days on the road often leave a truck driver feeling tired. To combat this sleepiness, they opt for caffeinated beverages to give them a bit of a pick-me-up. However, while the caffeine wakes them up in the short term, it can make it difficult to calm their mind when it is time for bed. This prevents them from reaching the deep sleep they need to safely operate their truck.
6. Avoid Driving After Midnight
In most cases, it will be easier for an individual to reach a deeper sleep in dark and quiet conditions. Although a truck driver may prefer driving their route through the night in the darkness, this is the peak time to fall asleep and achieve a better night’s rest. Instead of operating their truck between midnight and 7 am, where they may have a more difficult time focusing on the road, truck drivers should use that time to sleep.
7. Late Night Snacking
Life on the road encourages a weird schedule that can disrupt one’s sleep. When ending a shift late at night, a trucker may be inclined to eat a quick snack before going to bed. However, late-night snacking can cause the truck driver to experience indigestion or acid reflux, which will keep them up into the late hours of the night.
8. Use a CPAP Machine
If a truck driver is diagnosed with sleep apnea after taking preventative measures, they must use a CPAP machine so they can safely operate their truck. A sleep physician can work with them to find a portable and convenient solution that they can use while on the road and sleep in a variety of situations (i.e., in the truck, at a hotel, etc.).
ApneaMed Provides Sleep Apnea Testing & CPAP Therapy for Truck Drivers
If you need sleep apnea testing or CPAP therapy equipment as a commercial truck driver, ApneaMed can provide you with everything that you need to start on your journey to improved health. Have questions about ApneaMeds’ at-home sleep apnea test or our sleep apnea treatment equipment? Contact our team to learn more or to schedule a consultation.