Day after day, being on the road can be extremely tiring for truckers — even more so if they have undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. Constant sleep disturbances throughout the night can affect a trucker’s mood, performance, and alertness, putting them at an increased risk for a collision or accident while on the job.
Because truck drivers are at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea, it’s crucial to understand how this sleep disorder impacts them. Follow along as ApneaMed walks you through obstructive sleep apnea, how it affects truckers, and sleep apnea testing requirements through the Department of Transportation.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that results in an individual having disrupted breathing during the night. While sleeping, the soft tissues of the individual’s throat collapse and block their airway, making it difficult to breathe. As a result, the individual snores, chokes, gasps, or coughs in an attempt to dislodge the blockage and allow air through the airway again. When an individual experiences undiagnosed and untreated obstructive sleep apnea, the breathing disruptions will leave them feeling unrested and tired, even after getting a full night’s sleep.
How Truckers Are Impacted by Sleep Apnea
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for truck drivers, ensuring that they are rested and alert while navigating the roads in a large vehicle. If a truck driver has sleep apnea and wakes up exhausted, they are more likely to experience daytime sleepiness, leading to an increased risk of accidents. The increased drowsiness in a sleep apnea patient increases the chance of a truck driver getting into an accident by as much as 250% compared to a driver receiving adequate sleep.
The trucking industry is male-dominated, and sleep apnea most commonly impacts men over the age of 40. There is a greater chance of a truck driver being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea than in many other professions. The unhealthy lifestyle of truckers — living on the road, eating unhealthy food, and without physical exercise — also increases the likelihood of experiencing other health problems, such as obesity, that can lead to sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Test Requirements for Truck Drivers
The Department of Transportation requires that all commercial truck drivers undergo a DOT physical exam before getting the all-clear to hit the open road. Every two years, this physical exam is required by all truckers operating commercial vehicles weighing greater than 10,000 lbs.
While the DOT physical exam does not always include a sleep apnea test, the trucker will be asked to take one if their doctor suspects they might have obstructive sleep apnea. Without the sleep apnea test, the truck driver will not receive the approval to get back on the road. Because sleep apnea is prevalent in the trucking industry, it’s essential to get tested and undergo the necessary treatment to ensure whoever is behind the wheel feels well-rested and clear-headed.
Scheduling an At-Home Sleep Study for Truckers
ApneaMed’s at-home sleep apnea test provides a comfortable, convenient, and affordable option. If you need another sleep apnea test, you can perform a self-administered sleep study from the comfort of your own home (or on the road).
If diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is often recommended. The commercial truck driver can get the equipment they need from ApneaMed. ApneaMed offers AutoPAP machines that work similarly to CPAP, but the device can readjust pressure as required. The APAP machine will keep the driver’s airways open while they sleep by providing self-adjusted air pressure throughout the night — allowing them to get a deeper, more sound sleep. A well-rested truck driver is a safer driver who saves time and money.
Contact our team to learn more if you have any questions about ApneaMed’s at-home sleep apnea test or our sleep apnea treatment equipment.