The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is directing a great deal of attention to sleep apnea, including a “Spotlight on Sleep Apnea” section on the FMCSA website. Regulations concerning sleep apnea are being considered, though many occupational physicians and trucking companies are already addressing the serious safety concerns associated with untreated apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder caused by the narrowing or closure of the upper airway during sleep resulting in fragmented and poor quality sleep. Signs of sleep apnea include excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, morning headaches and difficulty concentrating. As a commercial truck driver, safety is a top concern, and when a driver is not well rested it is difficult to operate in a safe, efficient and effective manner.
FMCSA Sleep Testing Options
Recently, the FMCSA released a set of recommendations about testing for sleep apnea in truck drivers. Sleep clinics are the option many people think is the only way to be tested for sleep apnea., but home testing is a much less expensive option to being tested for sleep apnea in a lab. Additionally, the home sleep test is much more convenient and is less hassle for the truck driver’s schedule. According to the FMCSA, sleep clinics and in-home testing are both recognized as ways of being tested for sleep apnea in order to obtain a CDL license if screened at risk.
The FMCSA has 10 recommendations that should be considered when screening for sleep apnea. Some of these recommendations question whether the driver has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or higher, a neck size of 17 inches or bigger, if the driver reports excessive daytime sleepiness, has a small airway, hypertension, and/or diabetes.
If a driver has any of the above risk factors he/she should be referred for a sleep study. After being diagnosed with sleep apnea, they will have to be on a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine if they have an AHI (Apnea-Hypopnea Index) of 20 or greater, which is considered moderate sleep apnea.
Aeroflow Industrial Home Sleep Testing
Aeroflow Industrial Clinics offers in-home sleep tests that are accepted by the FMCSA. Sleep labs, compared to in-home tests, can be inconvenient for a truck driver’s schedule. With the in-home test, the driver will not have to be out of work to take the test. Aeroflow Industrial Clinics provides a turn-key program for diagnostic testing, treatment, and compliance management for sleep disorders.
Once a driver is diagnosed and starts treatment for sleep apnea, Aeroflow will be able to monitor compliance to make sure treatment is successful. For most drivers, the in-home sleep test through Aeroflow Industrial Clinics is the best and easiest option for reliable diagnosis and treatment.
Why wait for the FMCSA ruling to address the issues concerning sleep apnea? The industry is already aware of this serious safety concern and there are solutions available for trucking companies and drivers wishing to address the issue. Aeroflow Industrial Clinics has developed a program to screen, test, treat and managed compliance for sleep apnea in an economical and time efficient manner. Call us today and discuss the many sleep program options available to fleets and individual drivers.