Sleep Apnea: The Sleep Disorder Plaguing Truck Drivers

Jun 28, 2019

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, around 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing for a short period of time during their sleep cycle. This sudden interruption can range from moderate (a few times per cycle) to severe (multiple times per cycle), and requires medical attention. If left untreated, it can lead to high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.

So what does this mean for truck drivers? A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania found that almost one-third of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Because sleep apnea interrupts sleep and causes a person to feel drowsy and less alert during the day, it can cause real problems for drivers working long hours. When left untreated, a driver will become less attentive and experience hindered cognitive functioning.

If you believe you have symptoms of sleep apnea from the list below provided by the FMCSA, contact your doctor. You then work with a qualified medical examiner to determine whether or not you can safely operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Once diagnosed with sleep apnea, a person is no longer qualified to operate a CMV and must be successfully treated to regain medically-qualified-to-drive status.

In most cases, sleep apnea is treatable with the help of a CPAP machine or other lifestyle changes. At Sisbro, you're not just a number; your health matters to us. We offer flexible schedules, and if you believe you could have sleep apnea, take the time to visit your doctor. Your safety and the safety of others on the road are two of our number one priorities.

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea (Provided by the FMCSA)

Sleep apnea occurs in all age groups and both sexes, but there are a number of factors that may put you at higher risk:

  • A family history of sleep apnea
  • Having a small upper airway
  • Being overweight
  • Having a recessed chin, small jaw, or a large overbite
  • A large neck size (17 inches or greater for men, 16 inches or greater for women)
  • Smoking and alcohol use
  • Being age 40 or older
  • Ethnicity

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea (Provided by the FMCSA)

  • Loud snoring
  • Morning headaches and nausea
  • Gasping or choking while sleeping
  • Loss of sex drive/impotence
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability and/or feelings of depression
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Frequent nighttime urination