Sleep Apnea and driving

  • Aug 06, 2017

Sleep apnea causes interruptions in a person’s sleep pattern. Lack of sleep can lead to drowsiness and slow reaction to unexpected traffic situations. While driving any vehicle requires an alert driver, truck drivers are typically going down the highway at the tune of fifty to eighty thousand pounds. Reaction time is key and may be lessened if the driver is groggy.

Sleepiness, dull response time and lack of concentration are all side effects of sleep apnea. A crash can occur in the blink of an eye. The country depends on the truck drivers to deliver goods that we use in every aspect of our lives. Sleep apnea can hinder the driver’s ability to function safely. Safety should be first and foremost. Keep yourself safe as well as others on the road and see your doctor to get checked.


What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. During sleep, the tongue will fold back and block air flow from entering the lungs. This disruption can repeatedly occur throughout the night and may last up to a minute each time. People with sleep apnea are often tired even after several hours of rest. The main symptom of sleep apnea is excessive daytime sleepiness.

Additional symptoms of sleep apnea include; restless sleep, loud snoring with brief periods of silence followed by gasps, falling asleep during the day, morning headaches, trouble concentrating, irritability, mood or behavior changes, forgetfulness, anxiety, and depression.

The size of a person’s neck may also be considered a sign of sleep apnea. Many doctors will measure the neck and base a diagnosis on the measurement alone. The symptoms mentioned above can be present in many conditions. Having such symptoms doesn’t mean a person has apnea. These are just commonly noticed symptoms associated with sleep apnea.

Lack of proper rest may interfere with a truck driver’s ability to focus, increasing the risk of an accident. While this may sound extreme, most people are unaware that he/she will stop breathing hundreds of times through their sleep pattern each night.


Diagnoses and treatment of sleep apnea

During an examination, a doctor will look for signs of sleep apnea. If symptoms are present, many doctors prefer to send their patient to a sleep center for diagnosing sleep apnea. The screening usually requires the patient to stay overnight. Monitors are used to record your heart rate, oxygen levels, and breathing patterns. This form of testing can be expensive and may not be covered by insurance. Other doctors will suggest the patient do an at home study. This type of screening is similar as the one performed at the sleep center but without the expense. The patient records heart rate, oxygen levels, and breathing patterns in the comfort of their home. The results of both forms of testing will help diagnose the condition. Once diagnosed, a C-PAP machine may be issued to the patient. A C-PAP machine provides a constant stream of forced air. This allows you to receive air throughout the night and helps lessen the delayed breathing.

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