Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder among CMV drivers.
Drivers are especially at risk of developing sleep apnea because of other health factors, including unbalanced diet, inconsistent sleep patterns, and age. A study in 2002 showed that roughly 1/3 of truck drivers in the USA suffered from sleep apnea. Those numbers have stayed consistent in the two decades since, but the number of solutions to the sleep apnea problem have grown since then.
WHAT IS SLEEP APNEA?
“Sleep apnea” describes a group of sleep disorders commonly grouped by difficulty breathing while asleep.
Symptoms can be:
- shortness of breath
- interrupted sleep
Problems created by sleep apnea include:
- cognitive slowdown
Basically, it’s poor sleep that makes the next day harder. For CMV drivers, sleep apnea itself doesn’t disqualify them from operating. But it can put them in danger of making a mistake on the road that can lead to a ticket or an accident. Although there are no federal regulations against driving a CMV while diagnosed with sleep apnea, drivers can still get denied medical certification if they continue to leave it untreated.
HOW TO FIX THE PROBLEM?
With so many drivers suffering from sleep apnea and many more at risk of developing it, there’s a huge need for solutions to this problem.
The most common solution is a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine
These typically consist of a humidifier, air pump, and face mask. Drivers can wear this while asleep to regulate their breathing. The major draw of CPAP machines is that they are typically easy to use, and most doctors recommend them. However, for over-the-road drivers who sleep in sleeper berths or hotels, CPAP machines can be inconvenient or just plain uncomfortable.
Another, more modern solution is an MRD (mandibular repositioning device).This is a custom mouth guard that holds the airway while you sleep. It’s better for drivers because it doesn’t require a plug in and is way more portable. A drawback is that it isn’t as commonly used as CPAP machines, so drivers will have to know where to go to find one.
SLEEP APNEA IS TREATABLE
Drivers who are suffering from sleep apnea have options to relieve their symptoms while they work toward a healthier lifestyle.
- An easy way to reduce general health causes of sleep apnea over time is diet and exercise. Check out our articles on how drivers can eat healthy on the road and get exercise without access to a gym.
- If you have tried a CPAP machine and it doesn’t work for your situation, look into MRDs. Here’s a link for a dental organization called Sleep Matters LLC that helps CMV drivers with sleep apnea. They provide MRDs, as well as other help. It may seem strange to go to a dentist for a sleeping disorder, but Sleep Matters has an all-angles approach to beating sleep apnea. They have the knowledge and tools to work with you and find the best way to get your nights restful again, whether you’re on the road or at home.
HAS SLEEP APNEA AFFECTED YOUR JOB?
If sleep apnea has already affected your job – if you have a ticket or accident threatening your driving record, then contact us for help.
CDL Legal helps truckers and carriers with all kinds of traffic and safety problems. We can get you legal help in court, review your safety score for improvements, and much more. Sleep apnea is just one of the challenges facing truckers on the road, and only one of the hidden costs to a trucking career. With a job this demanding, truckers need someone in their corner to protect their license record and their job.