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Study shows high rate of truckers with undiagnosed sleep apnea

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  • Sleep apnea
  • trucking

American Academy of Sleep Medicine  |  Apr 09, 2012
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Truck drivers are not the best judges at diagnosing their own sleep apnea, a new study reports. Research showed that self-diagnosis and symptom reports fell far short of determining sleep apnea when compared to home testing. Only 4 percent of 517 commercial vehicle drivers in Australia reported an earlier diagnosis of sleep apnea. The study found another 41 percent when drivers were tested with home monitors.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been associated with a higher risk of motor vehicle crashes. In December, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced new rules for the maximum hours of work per shift and mandatory rest periods for truck drivers. The FMCSA reduced by 12 hours the maximum number of hours a truck driver. Truck drivers also were mandated a break of at least 30 minutes after every eight hours worked.

The truckers in the Australian study worked an average of 65 hours a week. When surveyed, 40 percent of the drivers said they had trouble staying awake while driving in the last month. Of the commercial operators diagnosed with sleep apnea, less than half used continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. CPAP is the first-line treatment for sleep apnea.

The study appears in the April edition of the journal SLEEP. Find out if you are at risk for sleep apnea. Get help for sleep apnea at an AASM-accredited sleep center.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Arzu 10 Nov
    Well it ALL depends on what the cause of your Apnea is?it is eetihr,a. your body actually stops breathing (or Suppressed) for a certain length of time. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)orb. The air passage way is closed for a length of time. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)Both will show up as Positive on a Sleep Study.The cure for (B.) is simply sleeping on your side. Most people get Slight sleep Apnea from sleeping on their back as their airway slightly compresses (Gravity) causing the restriction of oxygen to the blood.As for A. the only real way to fix the problem is eetihr the Self-Hep treatment, or, Therapy. Ill explain both for you.Self-help treatment for sleep apneaMinor sleep apnea is responsive to self-help remedies, or “behavioral treatments.” Some of the following self-help treatments for sleep apnea may work for you.* Lose weight. Overweight individuals who lose even 10% of their weight can reduce sleep apnea and improve sleep quality.* Stop using alcohol, tobacco, and sedatives, or anything that relaxes the muscles of the throat and encourages snoring.* Sleep on your side. Special pillows or remedies that encourage side-sleeping, such as the “tennis ball trick,” might help people who only experience sleep apnea when they sleep on their back. See Snoring Causes and Cures for more tips.* Elevate the head of your bed 4 -6 inches. This can alleviate snoring and make breathing easier.* Maintain regular sleep hours.* Use a nasal dilator, breathe right strips or saline nasal spray to help open nasal passages.Therapy Based Treatment:CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)CPAPCPAP is the most widely recommended treatment for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. CPAP entails wearing a mask-like device while you sleep, which provides pressurized air to prevent the airway from collapsing. Most CPAP units are the size of a tissue box and many now come with a built in humidifier for comfort.While CPAP works very well in preventing apnea symptoms, many people find the apparatus uncomfortable and difficult to use. Luckily, recent advancements to CPAP technology have made these once cumbersome devices much lighter, quieter and much more comfortable. Recent refinements include options such as* “bilevel PAP,” which switches from higher to lower air pressure during the exhalation, making breathing easier for some,* “AutoPAP”, which uses an internal regulator that adjusts pressure rather than remaining at one fixed setting.Different Masks The following tips may help you use CPAP more comfortably and successfully:* Take your time. Start by using your CPAP for short periods during the day. Use the “ramp” setting to gradually increase air pressure.* Make small adjustments to the mask, tubing and straps to find the right fit. Soft pads are available to cover the straps and reduce skin irritation.* Put your CPAP unit under the bed if the noise bothers you.* Use a humidifier with the CPAP unit (or get a unit with a humidifier) to decrease dryness and skin irritation. Try a special face moisturizer for dry skin.* Try a saline nasal spray or a nasal decongestant for nasal congestion.* Keep your mask, tubing and headgear clean. Replace CPAP and humidifier filters regularly.* Work with your doctor or sleep specialist to ensure the right fit and find the right settings on your CPAP unit.* Find a support group or others who use CPAP to exchange tips and give and receive moral support.* Use the CPAP consistently – every night and during every nap. This will make the adjustment easier and ensure maximum benefit.Dental appliances, oral devices, and lower jaw adjustment devicesMost dental devices are acrylic and fit inside your mouth, much like an athletic mouth guard or orthodontic appliance. Others fit around your head and chin to adjust the position of your lower jaw. Two common oral devices are the Mandibular Repositioning Device and the Tongue Retaining Device. These devices open your airway by bringing your lower jaw or your tongue forward during sleep.Surgery as treatmentSurgery can increase the size of your airway. The surgeon may remove tonsils, adenoids, or excess tissue at the back of the throat or inside the nose. Or, the surgeon may reconstruct the jaw to enlarge the upper airway.Surgery may be an effective option for some, and can even provide permanent relief from symptoms. However, any surgery carries risks of surgical complications and infections, and in some rare cases, symptoms can become worse after surgery. If you have exhausted other apnea treatment options, you may want to discuss surgical options with your doctor or sleep specialist.NOTE:You will find that using BOTH the Self-Help approach AND the therapeutic approach will give you the greatest benefit!I hope this helped!