Almost 28% of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea. This is according to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania. But first of all, what is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder that causes brief pauses of breathing during sleep. These can last at least 10 seconds or more and can occur up to 400 times a night. Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
* Loud snoring
* Morning headaches and nausea
* Frequent nighttime urination
* Gasping or choking while sleeping
* Loss of sex drive/impotence
* Excessive daytime sleepiness
* Disturbed sleep
* Irritability and/or feelings of depression
* Concentration and memory problems
How Can It Affect Your Driving?
Sleep apnea can affect your daytime alertness and performance. It can make it difficult for you to stay awake, focus your eyes, and react quickly while driving. Studies show that people with untreated sleep apnea are generally involved in a fatigue-related motor vehicle crash.
Many sleep apnea patients say they never fall asleep while driving. That may be true. But remember, you don’t have to fall asleep to have a crash. You simply have to be inattentive or less alert — and with untreated sleep apnea; you are not as sharp as you should be.
What To Do When You Learn You Have Sleep Apnea
You and/or your doctor should contact the medical qualifying examiner to determine your fitness to operate a commercial motor vehicle and to get help with treatment.
What Level of Sleep Apnea (mild, moderate, severe) Disqualifies a CMV Driver?
The disqualifying level is moderate to severe, which interferes with safe driving. The medical examiner must qualify and determine a driver’s medical fitness for duty.
Source: FMCSA. Read more here.