People who snore at night and experience brief pauses in breathing most probably have a sleeping disorder called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious disorder which can pose a great risk because it can cause lives if undiagnosed. The effects of sleep apnea to a person can be life threatening especially if the person who has it works in the transportation industry, specifically, commercial truck drivers.
Why can sleep apnea be life threatening to commercial drivers? Driving requires extreme focus and attention while on the road. Even a few seconds of unpreparedness can be fatal because accidents can happen in an instant. Drivers who have sleep apnea go to work feeling tired because of episodes of snoring and unconscious awakening at night. Instead of having a relaxing deep sleep, these people have to settle with light and unrefreshing sleep. As a result, they wake up feeling like they did not have enough sleep. There is also the possibility of suffering from headache and irritability. It does not end there. People who have sleep apnea lack concentration during the day and can feel excessive sleepiness which may result to unconsciously falling asleep at inappropriate times. For those who drive big vehicles, this is unacceptable.
The Department of Tourism recognizes the disturbing prevalence of sleep apnea among commercial drivers so they came up with a possible solution. We can get more info from the DOT website but basically, holders of a commercial driver's license are required to know the DOT regulations on sleep apnea. The DOT website has posted significant information about sleep apnea including the common risk factors and other frequently asked questions so it is best to check it out to create awareness to al concerned. The common risk factors include a large neck size, recessed chin, small jaw, large overbite, small upper airway, being overweight, and high blood pressure. Those who are aged 40 years and above who snore loudly, smoke and drink alcohol, or have a family history of sleep apnea also have a higher probability of having one as well. For truck drivers, some of the common traits include a large neck size and increased body weight, as mentioned earlier, so it is understandable that the risk of them having sleep apnea is significant.
Awareness on the DOT and sleep apnea details is the first step to resolving one of the existing problems of the transportation industry. The DOT mandates the commercial drivers to undergo a sleep test to determine if they have one. Once a person is diagnosed, the next steps can be taken for resolution and prevention. Sleep apnea is a treatable disorder. A driver who has one does not have to worry about losing his job over it because something can still be done. One of the solutions is to have the drivers undergo a therapy wherein they have to wear a nasal mask during sleep. They can also lose weight, avoid the other risk factors such as smoking and alcohol, and know the proper sleeping position. Something can be done. If you are a driver and you have sleep apnea or know someone who does, get help and undergo treatment to save lives, including yours.