Trucker Mama: Better Rest?

Much has been discussed in the past two years related to obstructive sleep apnea and truck drivers.

Sleep apnea occurs when you stop and start breathing during sleep.  If you snore loudly and wake up after a full sleep still tired, you may be suffering from this disruptive sleep condition.

Some of us are more susceptible to sleep apnea than others (trucker mama included).  Here are some of the traits that may contribute to sleep apnea:

  • ·         Being overweight
  • ·         Having a large neck (17+ inches for men and 15+ inches for women)
  • ·         A small airway (either from birth or swelling in this area)
  • ·         Age
  • ·         Smoking
  • ·         Stuffy nose
  • ·         Alcohol, or anything else that relaxes these muscles
  • ·         Genetics
  • ·         Being Male

(Thanks to for such a great online resource!)

The Federal Motor Carrier Association conducted a study that estimated one in 4 drivers may suffer from sleep apnea – detected or not.  This is not terribly unlike the percentage in the general population, but drivers have the added element of operating heavy equipment.

This diagnosis does not affect your ability to drive once successfully treated, which is virtually always possible.  You may do an overnight sleep study in your home or at a sleep center – depending on your insurance and physician preference. 

Sometimes simple lifestyle changes can help with sleep apnea – losing weight or quitting smoking.  The most common treatment is sleeping with a CPAP machine. 

Starting on the 22nd, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s medical review board will meet to make recommendations. The meeting in Arlington, VA is open to the public.  How would you comment?  What has been your experience to date with the increased focus on sleep apnea?

Writing this sure has me thinking.  I know the goal of everyone involved is to find a reasonable way to prioritize your health and safety with applicable tests and treatment, should sleep apnea be a potential issue. 

You live balancing driving and rest daily, and I am anxious to your thoughts on this topic.

As always, I look forward to hearing what you think of this article and what else you would like to see in this spot. 

Take care of yourself and drive home safely,

Trucker Mama