You might be wondering what sleep apnea has to do with your daytime driving, right? After all, you sleep at night and then do most of your driving during the day. However, since sleep apnea that hasn’t been properly treated can cause disruptions in your sleep cycles, it can also affect your performance during the day since you aren’t well-rested.
In addition, research has shown us time and time again that sleep apnea can significantly increase your chances of being in an accident while driving due to the fatigue experienced from a lack of quality sleep.
Can You Drive a Truck While Having Sleep Apnea?
So the question remains - can you be a truck driver with sleep apnea? The short answer is yes. First, however, your sleep apnea needs to be under control and treated appropriately. While there are three different types of sleep apnea (central, obstructive, and mixed), obstructive is the most common and presents with a narrow or blocked airway during sleep. Since this health condition is the most prevalent - and more so in men than in women - it must be under control before continuing to drive a truck.
DOT Requirements for Sleep Apnea
There are no laws that say you need to be tested or screened for sleep apnea if you think you have this condition. However, there are some DOT requirements that you need to be aware of if you have sleep apnea.
Any trucker wanting a CDL will need a medical exam before obtaining their license and will need to have this process repeated every two years while actively operating a vehicle over 10,000 pounds. The medical examiner assigned to you can then determine (based on symptoms, medical history, and physical factors) whether or not you need to be tested for sleep apnea. Signs and symptoms that might have them recommending a sleep apnea test include the following:
- BMI over 40
- Neck size over 17” for males or 15.5 for females
- High blood pressure
- History of heart disease
- Snoring that is audible through a door or wall
- Narrow airway
If your sleep study does confirm sleep apnea, then treatment is the next available option - and that’s where a CPAP machine comes into play. According to CNS Occupational Medicine, a printout of how often you then use your CPAP over the course of a year will need to be brought to your next physical exam, displaying that you are using the machine at least 70% of the night.
Can You Fail a DOT Physical for Having Sleep Apnea?
No, the DOT won’t fail you for having sleep apnea, but they expect you to get treatment for it. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to daytime fatigue and can place you and others at risk while on the road.
If you have more questions, please speak to your medical professional about your options regarding treating your sleep apnea successfully with our accurate and affordable testing and treatments.