How to Manage Sleep Apnea as a Truck Driver
Over 3 million Americans work as truck drivers today, and a significant portion of them have some degree of obstructive sleep apnea. Truck drivers work in a profession where reflexes and awareness are necessary for the safety of every car on the road. Sleep apnea, a sleeping condition, could negatively affect the quality of sleep for truck drivers, and it could cause safety concerns. There are accessible treatment options and suggestions available to truck drivers with sleep apnea that can help reduce some of these risks.
Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea
For trucker drivers with sleep apnea, driving without seeking treatment for their condition greatly increases the risk that accidents will occur. Sleep apnea can reduce how many hours of good sleep a driver gets, which in turn can cause a host of other issues. Some of these possible risks include drowsiness, fatigue, irritability, and hypertension.
Options for Drivers with Sleep Apnea
If a driver notices that he/she experiences heavy snoring, gaps in breathing patterns, morning headaches, or lack of energy, they should consider taking a sleep apnea test. Tests can be done at a local clinic or with a take-home test that monitors the wearer’s breathing, breathing effort, and oxygen levels.
If a doctor diagnoses a truck driver with sleep apnea, they will likely recommend using a CPAP machine. CPAP machines work by delivering air into the throat to prevent the narrowing of the respiratory airway. Using this treatment option will help the driver get an adequate amount of sleep each night so that they stay alert while on the roads.
One common difficulty when driving long distances with a CPAP machine is finding distilled water to refill the device. A commonly-found gallon of distilled water may work well at home, but on the road, it can cause many difficulties. Instead, a driver can get travel size distilled water for their CPAP machines to avoid the inconvenience of lugging around a large jug of water.