Sleep Apnea is a major problem in the trucking industry today. Millions of truck drivers suffer with it and these drivers are at an increased risk of being involved in accidents. Accidents involving heavy trucks are often fatal for both truck drivers and others on the road. The reason sleep apnea if left untreated is so dangerous for drivers is because it is a condition which often leads to daytime sleepiness. This means that many truck drivers are actually sleepy while driving.
Sleep apnea negatively affects the quality of sleep for truck drivers if it is not treated. The level of alertness and performance of drivers with this condition is greatly diminished. This can make it difficult for truck drivers to say wake and be alert enough to focus their eyes. This often makes it difficult for drivers to react quickly in an emergency situation while driving. This is why truck drivers with untreated sleep apnea have an increased risk of being involved in a driver fatigue related motor vehicle accident.
The typical victim of sleep apnea is an overweight male over the age of 40. This includes the major of truck drivers on the roads today. Although, the majority of drivers who have this condition are overweight, one certainly does not have to be overweight to suffer with it.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type and it is the type that affects most truck drivers. This is basically long pauses in breathing during sleep.This can happen repeatedly through the night.This can be followed by choking or gasing for breath. The objective of treating this condition is to keep the airways open while the victim is sleep.
Many drivers are unaware that they have sleep apnea which is why it is important for them to be screened for it. Phillip, a 20 year veteran longhaul truck driver was one of those drivers who suffers with it and was totally unaware that he had it. Fortunately, the trucking company he worked for had their drivers screened for it. Phillip was sent to a sleep clinic for an evaluation and the results confirmed that he had obstructive sleep apnea. When asked if he had previously experienced any symptoms of it such as snoring or daytime sleepiness he admitted that he had. He stated that his wife had complained for years about his loud snoring but he did not think it was a serious condition. He says he continued to drive for years despite he was often tired and sleepy. He also advised that he was often so sleepy while driving his truck that he is destined to not have been involved in an accident.
The treatment recommended for Phillip's condition was a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. A CPAP machine includes a mask, tubes and a fan which allows air to pass through the throat. This reduces snoring and pregnents sleep apnea disturbances. Phillip admits that he does not actually like the CPAP machine, but states that it has made all the difference in the quality of sleep he gets each night. He says he wakes up refreshed and does not worry about trying to stay awake while driving. He stated that he initially had some trouble with the mask so he got a different mask and says it is much better. He says the CPAP machine is not a cure for sleep apnea but just a treatment so he uses it whenever he sleeps even for naps.
Truck drivers who have sleep problems should be tested for sleep apnea. If they get a positive diagnosis for it they should not panic because it can be treated. Treatment will definitely improve the quality of sleep for those drivers. Some truck drivers with obstructive sleep apnea do not need a CPAP machine. The CPAP machine is a popular method of treatment but other treatments are available. Alternative treatments are also available which may help for those who suffer with mild conditions.