Detecting and Treating Sleep Apnea among Your Truck Drivers Will Make Them Safer Drivers

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Driving is serious business and a simple mistake can mean your driver's life and the lives of others. Falling asleep while driving can be fatal and expensive for your company. Regular fatigue and sleep deprivation can be easily alleviated by scheduling drivers appropriately allowing them to rest and be rejuvenated when they hit the road. Sometimes allowing enough rest is not enough. If some other condition exists, it must be treated to alleviate the sleep problems it has caused. Commercial drivers are high risk for a very serious sleep disorders that can make them a risk on the road.

Sleep apnea [] is a condition that caused the upper airway to narrow or close during sleep. This results in many sleep disturbances throughout the night and can lead to daytime sleepiness. Disturbances can occur as often as every thirty seconds and the sufferer may either snore very loudly or wake up gasping for air. A person with this condition is very unlikely to know there is a problem. They do not remember the disturbances. If their partner witnesses only snoring they will only see it as a nuisance most times and think nothing more of it.

Other health conditions can develop if apnea is not treated including depression, insomnia, heartburn, heart disease, and diabetes and cost your company more when it comes to healthcare. This condition is a risk for drivers because it prevents them from getting restorative sleep. Drivers will experience extreme daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and have trouble maintaining their attention. These symptoms are normally hidden with the consumption of caffeine and other stimulants. Apnea is a condition that requires treatment and cannot be resolved by simply changing sleeping habits. Many treatments are available depending on the severity and what the sufferer prefers.

Drivers with this condition cannot perform as well when on the road and are at a higher risk for accidents. Some studies have found that drivers with sleep apnea operate a vehicle just as a drunk driver does. Crash rates increase drastically when the condition is untreated. The driver either falls asleep at the wheel or makes other mistakes due to being overly fatigued. To provide security for your company and promote safety in your business, you may want to consider having each of your drivers evaluated for sleep apnea. Detection of this disorder and effective treatment can help reduce the amount of sleep related accidents, cost of crashes, and increase driver retention.

The most common sleep study test administered for detecting sleep apnea in truck drivers is a polysomnagram. It is administered by a sleep technician. Brain, breathing, and heart activity are measured during sleep. Others things might be observed if needed. Once the test is complete, a specialist will go over the measurements to determine if apnea or some other condition exists. Various treatment options may be offered if a driver has the condition. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP is widely used for treatment. A device is worn during sleep that blows air into the throat allowing the passage to stay open. Surgical procedures and dental appliances can also be used depending on how severe the apnea is.
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