Sleep apnea among truckers is of major concern in the U.S. There are close to 5,000 truck driver related deaths that occur on an annual basis. More than 1,500 of those are due to the effects of sleep apnea, drowsiness, chronic fatigue, sleepiness and more. Sleep deprivation affects commercial truck drivers, airline pilots, ship captains, transportation workers or any sort, night-shift workers and also train engineers/conductors. The resulting outcome of any of these individuals suffering from sleep deprivation or the effects of sleep apnea will often be devastating. When a truck related incident or crash occurs the cost can exceed $80,000 fairly quickly. When a casualty is involved in a truck related crash to cost could exceed $3.5 million.
Types of Apneas
There are two main types of sleep apnea, which truckers should be treated for. Obstructive (OSA) and Central (CSA). Obstructive sleep apnea or OSA occurs when some type obstruction or blockage occurs in the airway causing the individual to stop breathing. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not signal to the rest of the body to breath.
Sleep apneas prevent an individual from completing the required amount sleep cycles their body needs in order to receive a good night of sleep. The occurrence of multiple apneas throughout the night will contribute to the following effects:
- Extreme sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Daytime performance suffers
- Falling asleep during the day (during work, on the phone, while driving)
- Irritability and mood swings
- Slow reaction time
- Sexual dysfunction
- Learning deficiency
- Memory lapse
What can you do?
Many drivers or operators of motorized vehicles are oblivious to the fact of how fatigued their body is and will continue driving or operating in spite of this risk. As a driver, you should be tested for sleep apnea not only to help identify and minimize any accident or death related risks but also to make sure you are promoting your health.