Truck drivers spend a lot of time on the open road, often maintaining an odd sleep schedule that enables them to efficiently get from Point A to Point B. But if your truck drivers aren’t getting enough quality sleep each night, it leaves them feeling fatigued and unrested throughout the day — making it difficult to concentrate and function properly.
In order to operate a tractor-trailer safely, your truck drivers need to be well rested, which is why it’s imperative that all truck drivers are tested for sleep apnea. While sleep apnea affects approximately 4% of the general population, it is said to affect approximately 35% of truck drivers.
Today, ApneaMed will walk you through what sleep apnea is and how it can lead to trucking accidents if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes an individual to experience breathing disruptions throughout the night, often unnoticed by the individual, that leaves them feeling unrested even after a full night’s sleep. There are three types of sleep apnea, which include:
- Central Sleep Apnea – This type of sleep apnea occurs when there is a disconnect between the brain and the muscles that control breathing, resulting in breathing cessations.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea – As the most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues of the throat collapse during the night and cause a blockage in the airway.
- Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome – This type of sleep apnea presents itself similarly to obstructive sleep apnea but does not respond to common treatment methods like continuous positive airway pressure therapy.
Why Are Truckers At Risk of Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea most commonly impacts men over the age of 40, especially if that man is overweight. Because truck driving is a male-driven profession, the chance of having truck drivers on your staff with sleep apnea is substantially higher. Plus, the trucker lifestyle and limited healthy food options put them at greater risk of health problems that can lead to obstructive sleep apnea.
If a truck driver has untreated sleep apnea, they can get the proper amount of sleep each night but have low quality sleep due to the breathing disruptions throughout the night — resulting in extreme fatigue and a lack of concentration. As a result, the increased drowsiness drastically increases the chance of a truck driver getting into an accident by as much as 250% compared to a well-rested driver.
Scheduling an At-Home Sleep Study for Truckers
Due to the increased risk of trucking accidents when sleep apnea goes untreated, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires all drivers to undergo a physical exam that proves they can operate a commercial vehicle effectively. DOT requires truck drivers to take this exam every two years to ensure all drivers operating commercial vehicles weighing more than 10,000 lb are more than capable.
While the physical exam doesn’t always include a sleep apnea test, if the sleep physician believes the truck driver might have a sleep disorder, they’ll require sleep apnea testing before you gain DOT approval.
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). 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.