Dealing With Sleep Apnea

Jim Luff
Posted on October 24, 2016

Don't be this guy (Photo via PEXELS user unsplash.com)
Don't be this guy (Photo via PEXELS user unsplash.com)
Do you have sleep apnea?  It's estimated nearly 28% of all licensed commercial drivers have it.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder that causes brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. These pauses in breathing 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
• Gasping or choking while sleeping
• Loss of sex drive/impotence
• Excessive daytime sleepiness
• Irritability and/or feelings of depression
• Disturbed sleep
• Concentration and memory problems
• Frequent nighttime urination

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

In order to diagnose sleep apnea, your doctor may send you to a sleep center for testing. You may be asked to spend a night at the center, where experts will monitor your sleep.

How Can Sleep Apnea Affect Your Driving?

Because sleep apnea affects your sleep, it also affects your daytime alertness and performance. Untreated sleep apnea can make it difficult for you to stay awake, focus your eyes, and react quickly while driving. In general, studies show people with untreated sleep apnea have an increased risk of being 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.

Related Topics: accident reduction, chauffeur behavior, chauffeur training, driver behavior, driver safety, driving, Jim Luff, operations, passenger safety, Safety, Shop Talk blog

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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