In a 2010 speech to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, administrator Anne S. Ferro shared the FMCSA’s statistic that three out of 10 truck drivers suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea, a disorder which impacts the individual’s ability to breathe while sleeping. When the breathing stops, those afflicted with sleep apnea wake until breathing resumes. In some cases, individuals may stop breathing 30 times in an hour. As a result of this condition, individuals feel exhausted even after sleeping for a full night.
For office workers, the sluggishness they feel the morning after a poor night’s sleep can serve as a minor annoyance; truck drivers suffering from this condition encounter a more hazardous situation when they get behind the wheel exhausted. It is for this reason that Ferro presented the sleep apnea statistic: “drivers with severe sleep apnea are at a great risk of being involved in a severe crash.”
So, how do you know if you have this condition? What can you do if you discover that you suffer from sleep apnea? Here are some key points to consider:
In many cases, individuals who are impacted by this sleep disorder have family members who suffer from sleep apnea as well. Lifestyle choices can increase the severity of sleep apnea, as obesity, smoking and alcohol influence the individual’s ability to sleep. Advanced age and ethnicity can have bearing as well.
Obviously, those whose sleep is disturbed will feel excessively drowsy in the morning. The inability to rest properly at night also impacts memory, concentration and mood. At night, those who suffer from sleep apnea are said to snore loudly and gasp or choke while they are struggling to breathe. In spite of the severity of the condition, many who have sleep apnea do not remember interruptions of their sleep cycle, assuming their drowsiness is a result of poor sleeping conditions.
Those who suspect that sleep apnea is impacting their quality of sleep visit a sleep center, where they are monitored throughout the night. Undergoing this medical observation can reveal that a repeated interruption of the sleep cycle is causing a reduction in daytime alertness. When the results from the sleep test reveal the presence of sleep apnea, doctors typically encourage their patients to make lifestyle changes in diet and exercise. Additionally, they will recommend purchasing a CPAP machine, which aids in maintaining airway pressure.
If you feel that your quality of sleep has consistently been on the decline, you may want to consider speaking with a doctor about sleep apnea. Your companions on the road will thank you.