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Sleep Apnea and Truckers. To the Respironics, Resmeds and Fisher Paykels of the world, the two go together like Love and Marriage. To truckers the combination is more like oil and water. Clearly, the manufacturers have the moral high ground. But whether they will be able to woo truckers remains to be seen.

Truckers are disproportionately predisposed to having some form of Sleep Apnea, with one study pegging the number at 28% of all those holding commercial trucking licenses. And like most people who have some form of Sleep Apnea, truckers aren't getting treated for it. Now pair those facts with truckers driving 18-wheelers on long hauls for hours on end without interruption, and the potential for disaster is alarming: of the small number of truckers who actually are being treated for Sleep Apnea, the study showed, there was a 73% reduction in preventable driving accidents.

Mention Sleep Apnea to a trucker, and the likely response will be denial. Which makes sense on a certain level, because they fear that if they admit it they will have their licenses, along with their livelihoods, revoked. And indeed, at the behest of the CPAP manufacturers, the Federal Department of Transportation is headed down that path, proposing that to be physically fit to hold a trucking license a driver must have "no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of a respiratory dysfunction likely to interfere with his/her ability to control and drive a commercial motor vehicle safely." If such a dysfunction is detected, the driver must be evaluated and treated for the dysfunction. Easy enough to say, but as we all know, getting well with Sleep Apnea is about trial and error, and often takes time. How the D.O.T. and the manufacturers agitating for this change are going to deal with that hard fact remains to be seen. But this much is clear: their success in wooing their unwilling partner will depend on it.

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Comment by Amy OHare on March 1, 2010 at 1:40pm
Oh, here is the eye-opening article I was referring to: Sleep Apnea and Truck Drivers
Comment by Amy OHare on March 1, 2010 at 1:35pm
Indeed. I am not a truck driver but feel that the industry is due for a mandatory sleep apnea test for all drivers. Does anyone else think that the DOT will make a sleep apnea test mandatory? I ask, becuase when I first started on my CPAP device through the Federal Sleep Institute, I found out some startling statistics about how sleep apnea affects truck drivers specifically, and it was eye opening.
Comment by Judy on March 16, 2009 at 11:13am
Good article, Mike. And I would think the rating of the quality of the evidence presented helps w/the acceptability of its conclusions. Its a tough issue: a man's livelihood, his family's livelihood, vs the risk to others on the road, especially as we are pushed to smaller and smaller cars for fuel efficiency - and the job market gets squeezed even further w/more and more people out of work, buying less, less demand for goods to be transported, the high cost of fuel, especially diesal .....
Comment by Mike on March 16, 2009 at 3:22am
Comment by Judy on January 30, 2009 at 2:08pm
Truckers can continue to drive for a living once they've established they are bing SUCCESSFULLY treated w/xPAP therapy and are COMPLIANT. The "key" for many, I would imagine, is the TIME it takes to attain SUCCESSFUL xPAP therapy. How many of us experienced the miracle of overnight success or even complete success w/in the first 30 days?
Comment by RichM on January 30, 2009 at 9:50am
I don't understand why they would pull their license if they are getting therapy most big rigs have a power converter to use 120 v so the cpap or bipap would work in their sleeping cab. When I was on the road all the time I took my cpap with me, even overseas .
Comment by sleepycarol on January 30, 2009 at 8:15am
This issue has been of interest to me and I have followed it on this forum and another that I belong to. My husband has worked in heavy construction since he was 21. After working his way up in the field, he now transport the various pieces of equipment to the job sites and then runs the equipment at the job site. His company is international and thus he has worked all over the U.S., plus some out of the country.

I asked him about getting a sleep study done after I was diagnosed since he snores like a freight train, but was quickly told no way -- no how!! I know part of his reluctance is job related as this is the only type of work is in his blood and I can't imagine him doing anything else.

In my opinion, this is not an issue of just truck drivers only. What about those that work in other dangerous / high risk jobs? How many fatal accidents could be aoided in the factories if people were diagnosed and being treated? I know there is the mind set that those are not at risk to others -- but this isn't entirely too. Those that have to witness such an accident can be affected for the rest of their lives.
Comment by Sugarshirl on January 30, 2009 at 1:37am
I could not imagine being a trucker and having sleep apena, it just seems such a dangerous combination. If they know that they would not be able to drive if it was discovered they had sleep apena, I am sure they would not amit having it. They might feel that they are used to it and can function like so many other people that have it and have not yet been diagnosed. I have had sleeping problems for many years, but I always just thought it was due to my weight so I never had it checked out by a doctor. I just tried to deal with it and I always told people that I was one of those that really only needed 3-4 hours of sleep a night. There were two incidents that convinced me to get tested. It wasn't the jerking awake so many times during the night or sitting up on the side of the bed, sleeping and even falling forward onto the floor a couple of times. It was driving home from work and falling asleep at the wheel. This happened twice. Both times I was extremely lucky as I woke up in time to see all the brake lights in front of me and hitting the brakes hard while turning quickly into the island lane. If I would have been driving a big rig, it would have been a horrible accident. The night at the sleep clinic was the worst of my life, but they figured out that I stopped breathing 90 times per hour! I have always been a mouth breather so I was given a full face CPAP that covers both my nose and mouth and really blows at a pressure of 14. It was amazing how quickly I adapted to it and started sleeping 8 hours a night. What a difference in my energy level and my focus at work and just feeling like a new person. I just wish there was some kind of more portable CPAP that truckers could use so they could be able to perform their job feeling more alert and focused and not have to worry about losing their livelyhood.
Comment by The SleepGuide Crew on January 30, 2009 at 1:26am
Given the interest in this article, we have decided to leave it in its featured spot for the rest of today. New article to come tomorrow!
Comment by Elizabeth on January 29, 2009 at 5:58am
In response to Gordon Osmond's post regarding the night shift causing sleep apnea. I feel that is not the case. Sleep apnea is a medical condition, not a biological clock dysfunction. If that were the case there would be many more needing the CPAP and my husband worked off-shift hours for years and he sleeps just fine. I have OSA and I have had it for years but was just diagnosed 3 months ago. My husband said it looked like I was gasping for breath. After being studied and found to have severe sleep apnea I am being treated and I see a difference in energy level but it doesn't help with insomnia. After learning how dangerous sleep apnea is and how sleep medicines are not good for people with sleep apnea, that takes that treatment away from me to help me with sleep. PLUS I have finally been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I've had that for a few years too but was just diagnosed and that does not go well with sleep apnea and insomnia. I would be worse without the machine but it does not help my other woes of sleep disorders. I was told that my pain would go away after I get the deep sleep I need with my CPAP machine. It is not true. I still hurt and they put me on Cymbalta which has helped lesson the pain but not take it away. I take arthritis pain formula medicine and a muscle relaxant for those really bad days I get. Between the 3 I finally get a little relief even if it's for only 3 to 4 hours. My point is that there is more than just sleep apnea going on for many people. CPAP is the best thing that has happened to me. I now have energy to get to a gym to help me lose weight and to help with my Fibromyalgia pain. I couldn't do this before my machine. Thanks for reading my post. God bless you all.

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