Sleep apnea can make performing everyday activities more difficult due to feeling tired and lethargic. But when you're a truck driver, this can wreak havoc on your ability to perform the duties of your job sufficiently.
Luckily, there are proactive measures you can take that make it easier for you to be a truck driver with sleep apnea. Follow along as ApneaMed outlines what truck drivers can do to find relief from their sleep apnea and maintain peak performance while on the road.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes an individual to experience numerous breathing disruptions while they sleep. This happens when the soft tissues within the throat collapse and block the airway, causing them to have trouble breathing. As a result, the individual may gasp, cough, or choke to remove the blockage, only to have the same blockage occur shortly after.
When sleep apnea goes untreated, it can cause the individual to experience morning headaches and nausea, excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability, and concentration and memory problems. Although sleep apnea can impact anyone, individuals who are overweight, have a poor diet, smoke, and are over the age of 40 are more prone. In many cases, truck drivers meet these criteria and thus are more prone to sleep apnea.
How to Be a Truck Driver With Sleep Apnea
Because trucking is a male-dominated industry and eating and drinking habits may not be the best while on the road, truck drivers have an increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea. Without proper management of their sleep apnea or tweaks to an unhealthy lifestyle, truckers may feel unrested and lethargic as they go about their route — putting their lives and the lives of those on the road in danger. Untreated sleep apnea may also have negative repercussions on their health.
To help maintain the safety of themselves and others around them, we recommend truck drivers with sleep apnea follow these tips:
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep – It can be hard to stick to a strict schedule when on the road. You may drive through the night to beat a storm or meet a deadline. Whatever the scenarios, it is crucial that truck drivers with sleep apnea get at least eight hours of sleep each night to reduce the chances of feeling drowsy during the day.
- Get proper nutrition from meals – It’s easy to make unhealthy meal choices when on the road. Instead of taking the time for a decent sit-down meal, many truck drivers opt for a quick meal from a fast food joint so they can eat while they drive. This leads to unhealthy choices that can wreak havoc on your overall health and increase the risk of breathing disruptions.
- Avoid driving after midnight – Those with sleep apnea often feel more tired than those without, even when getting adequate sleep. To avoid feeling excessively tired while driving, it is recommended that truck drivers with sleep apnea try to get most of their driving in during daylight hours since it is more difficult to concentrate on the road in the dark.
- Use a CPAP machine – One of the most effective ways to cut back on the number of breathing disruptions you may experience is by using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. While it may not seem like the most convenient piece of equipment to bring on the road, it can make a night and day difference in the quality of sleep you receive — making you a safer driver by helping you feel well-rested.
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).
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is often recommended if diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. 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.